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Battle of Peleliu, 1944 (Paperback)

Three Days That Turned into Three Months

Colour Books Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: WWII Photographic Books WWII > Photographic Books

By Jim Moran
Frontline Books
Series: Images of War
Pages: 256
Illustrations: Black and white illustrations + 4 colour plates
ISBN: 9781526778215
Published: 5th August 2021



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After the Allies had defeated the Japanese in the Solomons and the Dutch East Indies, the capture of the Philippines became General MacArthur’s next objective. For this offensive to succeed, MacArthur felt compelled to secure his eastern flank by seizing control of the Palau Islands, one of which was Peleliu. The task of capturing this island, and the enemy airfield on it, was initially handed to Admiral Nimitz.

The Palau Islands, however, formed part of Japan’s second defensive line, and Peleliu’s garrison amounted to more than 10,000 men. Consequently, when the US preliminary bombardment began on 12 September 1944, it was devastating. For two days the island was pounded relentlessly. Such was the scale of the destruction that the commander of the 1st Marine Division, Major General William H. Rupertus, told his men: ‘We’re going to have some casualties, but let me assure you this is going to be a fast one, rough but fast. We’ll be through in three days – it may only take two.’

At 08.32 hours on 15 September 1944, the Marines went ashore. Despite bitter fighting, and a ferocious Japanese defence, by the end of the day the Marines had a firm hold on Peleliu. But rather than Japanese resistance crumbling during the following days as had been expected, it stiffened, as they withdrew to their prepared defensive positions. The woods, swamps, caves and mountains inland had been turned into a veritable fortress – it was there where the real battle for possession of Peleliu was fought.

Day after day the Americans battled forward, gradually wresting control of Peleliu from the Japanese. Despite Major General Rupertus’ prediction, it was not until 27 November, after two months, one week and five days of appalling fighting, and a final, futile last sacrificial charge by the remaining enemy troops, that the Battle of Peleliu came to an end.

As featured in

The Armourer

As featured in

Irregular Magazine

Moran provides quite a detailed text for one of these books, but his narrative flows well enough while complementing the many monochrome photographs that are the book’s selling point. Those pictures also tell the story. Many of them cover the landings and could come from just about any of the Marine invasions during the War, but others depict the hostile terrain and the claustrophobia of fighting in the relatively confined spaces that look distinctively Peleliu in nature. Newcomers to the Pacific War will gain insight from this book, but there is enough in it for anyone interested in the theatre.

Robert Neil Smith, Amazon Reviewer

This Images of War publication marries an impressive collection of period photography to a terse but informative narrative. In the event, the conquest of Peleliu would take three months, not three days. As the imagery depicts, the ferocity of an well-prepared Japanese defense would take its toll on the Marines and on their Army reinforcements.

Of note, the author passes lightly over the controversy of whether the Peleliu invasion was even necessary. His narrative spends more time on the challenges to the leadership of the 1st Marine Division. Also of note, the author has included a small but meaningful collection of artwork by reporter and artist Tom Lea. Well recommended to students of the Second World War in the Pacific.

HMS Warspite, Amazon Reviewer

As Featured In

WWII History, April 2022

"You get a nice concise overview of island operations along with the plethora of photos..."

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Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

Looking at the war in the Pacific other nations had troops there fighting, but the US Marine Corps and Infantry Units who fought there are owed a great debt as they did most of the heavy lifting when it came to winning the Pacific War. The Americans paid a heavy price in young men’s lives during the island hoping and it is good to see their sacrifices covered in books such as this that put faces to Wars.

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"Highly recommended for all builders."

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"A great addition to the series and one that can be easily recommended."

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The Battle of Peleliu 44 book is a fascinating look at the war in the far east fought by the US, obviously, with this book the message is bought to through top-class photographs with supporting text and information. The book is split into chapters, Opposing Plans, Opposing Forces, Peleliu D-Day, D+1 to D+7, 81st Infantry, The Nightmare Continues, The Nightmare Ends and the Aftermath. What seems to be an extra in this book is the artwork at the back and the copies of the surrender leaflets too, both a welcome addition to the book and helps this book stand out from some of the others. Certainly recommended.

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UK Historian

The is a cracking book, coving an intense battle with many casualties on both sides. The photographs capture some of the horror and loss and leads one to understand the tactics the US used in future landings.

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ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

I Learned a great deal from this research and collection of great photographs - a very fine book on Peleliu.

Patrick Brent, Founder and Director of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation

A really interesting read from an author who is an expert on the history of the US Marines and the photos offer lots of diorama ideas and detail for modellers, as well as the basic interest for historians.

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Military Model Scene

Featured in

Wargames Illustrated - August 2021
 Jim Moran

About Jim Moran

Born in 1954 in Sheffield, England, JIM MORAN lives in Yorkshire. Following a grammar school education, Jim has had a forty-year-long career as a civil engineering surveyor working on major highway and airbase construction projects, both in the UK and overseas. Jim has been a student of the history of the United States Marine Corps, amassing a huge collection over the past forty years. He has assisted Hollywood productions on uniform and equipment details for Flags of our FathersThe Pacific (HBO mini-series) and Windtalkers. Jim is an associate member of the Second Marine Division Association, US Marine Raider Association, Marine Corps Association, and US Marine Corps League as well as being the 'on-board' historian to the US Marine Corps League, Det 1088 (UK).

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