Battle of Peleliu

Coordinates: 7°00′N 134°15′E / 7.000°N 134.250°E / 7.000; 134.250
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Battle of Peleliu
Part of the Mariana and Palau Islands campaign of the Pacific Theater (World War II)

The first wave of U.S. Marines in LVTs during the invasion of Peleliu on 15 September 1944.
Date15 September – 27 November 1944
(2 months, 1 week and 5 days)
Location7°00′N 134°15′E / 7.000°N 134.250°E / 7.000; 134.250
Result American victory
 United States  Japan
Commanders and leaders
William H. Rupertus
Paul J. Mueller
Roy S. Geiger
Herman H. Hanneken
Harold D. Harris
Lewis B. Puller
Kunio Nakagawa 
Sadae Inoue
Units involved

III Amphibious Corps

Additional support units

Peleliu garrison

Additional support units
47,561[1]: 36  10,900[1]: 37 
17 tanks[2]
Casualties and losses

Total Palau Group

  • 1,989-2,143 battle deaths
  • 8,514 wounded and injured
Breakdown by locations
  • Peleliu and Ngesebus Islands[a]
    • 1,573+ battle deaths
    • 6,531+ wounded and injured
    Angaur Island[b]
    • 260+ battle deaths
    • 1,354+ wounded and injured
    Navy (excluding Peleliu Island)
    • 134 battle deaths
    • 255 wounded
Breakdown by service
  • Marines[4]
    • 1,252-1,336 killed, died of wounds, missing presumed dead
    • ~5,200-5,274 wounded
    • 542-612[6] killed, died of wounds, missing
    • 2,736 wounded and injured
    • 195 killed and died of wounds
    • 504 wounded[8]

Total Palau Group[9]

  • 12,033 dead (excluding stragglers)
  • 360 prisoners (excluding stragglers)
Breakdown by locations
  • Peleliu and Ngesebus Islands
    • 10,695 dead
    • 301 prisoners
    Angaur Island
    • 1,338 dead
    • 59 prisoners
Battle of Peleliu is located in Palau
Battle of Peleliu
Location within Palau
Battle of Peleliu is located in Asia
Battle of Peleliu
Battle of Peleliu (Asia)
Battle of Peleliu is located in Pacific Ocean
Battle of Peleliu
Battle of Peleliu (Pacific Ocean)

The Battle of Peleliu, codenamed Operation Stalemate II by the US military, was fought between the United States and Japan during the Mariana and Palau Islands campaign of World War II, from 15 September to 27 November 1944, on the island of Peleliu.

US Marines of the 1st Marine Division and then soldiers of the US Army's 81st Infantry Division fought to capture an airfield on the small coral island of Peleliu. The battle was part of a larger offensive campaign known as Operation Forager, which ran from June to November 1944 in the Pacific Theater.

Major General William Rupertus, the commander of the 1st Marine Division, predicted that the island would be secured within four days.[10] However, after repeated Imperial Japanese Army defeats in previous island campaigns, Japan had developed new island-defense tactics and well-crafted fortifications, which allowed stiff resistance[11] and extended the battle to more than two months. The heavily-outnumbered Japanese defenders put up such stiff resistance, often by fighting to the death in the Japanese Emperor's name, that the island became known in Japanese as the "Emperor's Island."[12]

In the US, it was a controversial battle because of the island's negligible strategic value and the high casualty rate, which exceeded that of all other amphibious operations during the Pacific War.[13] The National Museum of the Marine Corps called it "the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines".[14]


By 1944, American victories in the Southwest and Central Pacific had brought the war closer to Japan, with American bombers able to strike at the Japanese main islands from air bases secured during the Mariana Islands campaign (June–August 1944). There was disagreement among the U.S. Joint Chiefs over two proposed strategies to defeat the Japanese Empire. The strategy proposed by General Douglas MacArthur called for the recapture of the Philippines, followed by the capture of Okinawa, then an attack on the Japanese home islands. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz favored a more direct strategy of bypassing the Philippines but seizing Okinawa and Taiwan as staging areas to an attack on the Japanese mainland, followed by the future invasion of Japan's southernmost islands. Both strategies included the invasion of Peleliu, but for different reasons.[15]

The 1st Marine Division had already been chosen to make the assault. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled to Pearl Harbor to personally meet both commanders and hear their arguments. MacArthur's strategy was chosen. However, before MacArthur could retake the Philippines, the Palau Islands, specifically Peleliu and Angaur, were to be neutralized and an airfield built to protect MacArthur's left flank.



By 1944, Peleliu was occupied by about 11,000 Japanese of the 14th Infantry Division, along with a handful of Korean laborers.[16][17] Colonel Kunio Nakagawa, commander of the division's 2nd Regiment, led the preparations for the island's defense.[17]

After their losses in the Solomons, Gilberts, Marshalls, and Marianas, the Imperial Army assembled a research team to develop new island-defense tactics. They chose to abandon the old strategy of trying to stop the enemy on the beaches, where they would be exposed to naval bombardment. The new tactics would only disrupt the landings at the water's edge and depend on an in-depth defense further inland. Colonel Nakagawa used the rough terrain to his advantage by constructing a system of heavily fortified bunkers, caves, and underground positions, all interlocked in a "honeycomb" system. The traditional "banzai charge" attack was also discontinued as being both wasteful of men and ineffective. These changes would force the Americans into a war of attrition, requiring more resources.

Japanese fortifications

Nakagawa's defenses were centered on Peleliu's highest point, Umurbrogol Mountain, a collection of hills and steep ridges located at the center of Peleliu overlooking a large portion of the island, including the crucial airfield. The Umurbrogol contained some 500 limestone caves, connected by tunnels. Many of these were former mine shafts that were turned into defensive positions. Engineers added sliding armored steel doors with multiple openings to serve both artillery and machine guns. Cave entrances were opened or altered to be slanted as a defense against grenade and flamethrower attacks. The caves and bunkers were connected to a vast tunnel and trench system throughout central Peleliu, which allowed the Japanese to evacuate or reoccupy positions as needed and to take advantage of shrinking interior lines.

The Japanese were well armed with 81 mm (3.19 in) and 150 mm (5.9 in) mortars and 20 mm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft cannons, backed by a light tank unit and an anti-aircraft detachment. The Japanese also used the beach terrain to their advantage. The northern end of the landing beaches faced a 30-foot (9.1 m) coral promontory that overlooked the beaches from a small peninsula, a spot later known to the Marines who assaulted it simply as "The Point". Holes were blasted into the ridge to accommodate a 47 mm (1.85 in) gun, and six 20 mm cannons. The positions were then sealed shut, leaving just a small slit to fire on the beaches. Similar positions were crafted along the 2-mile (3.2 km) stretch of landing beaches.

The beaches were also filled with thousands of obstacles for the landing craft, principally mines and a large number of heavy artillery shells buried with the fuses exposed to explode when they were run over. A battalion was placed along the beach to defend against the landing, but they were meant to merely delay the inevitable American advance inland.


Unlike the Japanese, who drastically altered their tactics for the upcoming battle, the American invasion plan was unchanged from that of previous amphibious landings, even after suffering 3,000 casualties and enduring two months of delaying tactics against the entrenched Japanese defenders at the Battle of Biak.[18] On Peleliu, American planners chose to land on the southwest beaches because of their proximity to the airfield on south Peleliu. The 1st Marine Regiment, commanded by Colonel Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, was to land on the northern end of the beaches. The 5th Marine Regiment, under Colonel Harold Harris, would land in the center, and the 7th Marine Regiment, under Colonel Herman Hanneken, would land at the southern end.

The division's artillery regiment, the 11th Marines under Colonel William Harrison, would land after the infantry regiments. The plan was for the 1st and 7th Marines to push inland, guarding the 5th Marines' flanks, and allowing them to capture the airfield located directly to the center of the landing beaches. The 5th Marines were to push to the eastern shore, cutting the island in half. The 1st Marines would push north into the Umurbrogol, while the 7th Marines would clear the southern end of the island. Only one battalion was left behind in reserve, with the U.S. Army's 81st Infantry Division available for support from Angaur, just south of Peleliu.

On 4 September the Marines shipped off from their station on Pavuvu, north of Guadalcanal, a 2,100-mile (3,400 km) trip across the Pacific to Peleliu. A Navy Underwater Demolition Team went in first to clear the beaches of obstacles, while warships began their pre-invasion bombardment of Peleliu on 12 September.

The battleships Pennsylvania, Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee and Idaho, heavy cruisers Indianapolis, Louisville, Minneapolis and Portland, and light cruisers Cleveland, Denver and Honolulu,[1]: 29  led by the command ship Mount McKinley, subjected the tiny island, only 6 sq mi (16 km2) in size, to a massive three-day bombardment, pausing only to permit air strikes from the three aircraft carriers, five light aircraft carriers, and eleven escort carriers with the attack force.[19] A total of 519 rounds of 16 in (410 mm) shells, 1,845 rounds of 14 in (360 mm) shells and 1,793 500 lb (230 kg) bombs pounded the islands during this period.

The Americans believed the bombardment to be successful, as Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf claimed that the Navy had run out of targets.[19] In reality, the majority of Japanese positions were unharmed; even the battalion left to defend the beaches was virtually unscathed. During the assault, the island's defenders exercised unusual firing discipline to avoid giving away their positions. The bombardment managed only to destroy Japan's aircraft on the island, as well as the buildings surrounding the airfield. The Japanese remained in their fortified positions, ready to attack the American landing troops.

Opposing forces[edit]

Naval command structure for Operation Stalemate II
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
Admiral William F. Halsey Jr.
Vice Adm. Theodore S. Wilkinson
Expeditionary Troops and III Amphibious Corps commanders
Maj. Gen. Julian C. Smith
Maj. Gen. Roy S. Geiger
Marine ground commanders on Peleliu
Maj. Gen. William H. Rupertus
Oliver P. Smith as a major general
Lewis B. Puller as a major general

American order of battle[edit]

United States Pacific Fleet[20]
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
US Third Fleet
Admiral William F. Halsey Jr.

Joint Expeditionary Force (Task Force 31)
Vice Admiral Theodore S. Wilkinson

Expeditionary Troops (Task Force 36)
III Amphibious Corps[c]
Major General Julian C. Smith,[d] USMC

Western Landing Force (TG 36.1)
Major General Roy S. Geiger, USMC

1st Marine Division

Beach assignments

Japanese order of battle[edit]

Lt. Col. Kunio Nakagawa
Marine with captured Japanese 141mm mortar

Palau District Group[23]
Lieutenant General Inoue Sadao[h] (HQ on Koror Island)
Vice Admiral Yoshioka Ito
Maj. Gen. Kenjiro Murai[i]

14th Division (Lt. Gen. Sadao)
Peleliu Sector Unit (Lt. Col. Kunio Nakagawa[j])

  • 2nd Infantry Regiment, Reinforced
    • 2nd Bttn. / 2nd Infantry Regiment
    • 3rd Bttn. / 2nd Infantry Regiment
    • 3rd Bttn. / 15th Infantry Regiment
    • 346th Bttn. / 53rd Independent Mixed Brigade



Routes of Allied landings on Peleliu, 15 September 1944

US Marines landed on Peleliu at 08:32 on 15 September, the 1st Marines to the north on White Beach 1 and 2 and the 5th and 7th Marines to the center and south on Orange Beach 1, 2, and 3.[1]: 42–45  As the other landing craft approached the beaches, the Marines were caught in a crossfire when the Japanese opened the steel doors guarding their positions and fired artillery. The positions on the coral promontories guarding each flank fired on the Marines with 47 mm guns and 20 mm cannons. By 09:30 the Japanese had destroyed 60 LVTs and DUKWs.

5th Marines on Orange Beach

The 1st Marines were quickly bogged down by heavy fire from the extreme left flank and a 30 feet (9.1 m) high coral ridge, "The Point".[1]: 49  Puller's LVT was hit by a dud high velocity artillery round, and his communications section was destroyed on its way to the beach by a hit from a 47 mm round. The 7th Marines faced a cluttered Orange Beach 3, with natural and man-made obstacles, forcing the LVTs to approach in column.[1]: 52 

The 5th Marines made the most progress on the first day, aided by cover provided by coconut groves.[1]: 51  They pushed toward the airfield but were met with Nakagawa's first counterattack. His armored tank company raced across the airfield to push the Marines back but was soon engaged by tanks, howitzers, naval guns, and dive bombers. Nakagawa's tanks and escorting infantrymen were quickly destroyed.[1]: 57 

At the end of the first day, the Americans held their 2-mile (3.2 km) stretch of landing beaches but little else. Their biggest push in the south moved 1 mile (1.6 km) inland, but the 1st Marines to the north made very little progress because of the extremely heavy resistance.[1]: 42  The Marines had suffered 200 dead and 900 wounded. Rupertus, still unaware of his enemy's change of tactics, believed the Japanese would quickly crumble since their perimeter had been broken.[26]

Airfield/South Peleliu[edit]

A wounded Marine receives a drink from a Navy corpsman.

On 16 September the 5th Marines moved to capture the airfield and push toward the eastern shore.[1]: 61  They ran across the airfield, enduring heavy artillery fire from the highlands to the north, suffering heavy casualties in the process. After capturing the airfield, they rapidly advanced to the eastern end of Peleliu, leaving the island's southern defenders to be destroyed by the 7th Marines.[1]: 58 

This area was hotly contested by the Japanese, who still occupied numerous pillboxes. Heat indices[27] were around[28] 115 °F (46 °C), and the Marines suffered high casualties from heat exhaustion. Further complicating the situation, the Marines' water was distributed in empty oil drums, contaminating the water with the oil residue.[29] Still, by 23 September the 5th and 7th Marines had accomplished their objectives, holding the airfield and the southern portion of the island, although the airfield remained under threat of sustained Japanese fire from the heights of Umurbrogol Mountain until the end of the battle.[19]

American forces began using the airfield on 17 September. L-2 Grasshoppers from VMO-3 began aerial spotting missions for Marine artillery and naval gunfire support. On 26 September Marine F4U Corsairs from VMF-114 landed on the airstrip. The Corsairs began dive-bombing missions across Peleliu, firing rockets into open cave entrances for the infantrymen, and dropping napalm; it was only the second time napalm had been used in the Pacific, [citation needed] which proved effective at burning away the vegetation hiding spider holes and usually killing their occupants. The time from takeoff to the target area for the Corsairs operating from Peleliu Airfield was very short, sometimes only 10 to 15 seconds. Most pilots did not bother to raise the aircraft's landing gear, leaving them down during the air strike. After the strike was completed, the Corsair simply turned back into the landing pattern again.

The Point[edit]

Frontline warning sign on Peleliu, October 1944

"The Point" at the end of the southern landing beaches continued to cause heavy Marine casualties from the enfilading fire of Japanese heavy machine guns and anti-tank artillery across the landing beaches. Puller ordered Captain George P. Hunt, commander of K Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, to capture the position. Hunt's company approached "The Point" short on supplies, having lost most of its machine guns while approaching the beaches. Hunt's second platoon was pinned down for nearly a day in an anti-tank trench between fortifications. The rest of his company was endangered when the Japanese cut a hole in their line, surrounding his company and leaving his right flank cut off.[1]: 49 

However, a rifle platoon began knocking out the Japanese gun positions one by one. Using smoke grenades for concealment, the platoon swept through each hole, destroying the positions with rifle grenades and close-quarters combat. After knocking out the six machine gun positions, the Marines faced the 47 mm gun cave. A lieutenant blinded the 47 mm gunner's visibility with a smoke grenade, allowing Corporal Henry W. Hahn to launch a grenade through the cave's aperture. The grenade detonated the 47 mm's shells, forcing the cave's occupants out with their bodies alight and their ammunition belts exploding around their waists. A Marine fire team was positioned on the flank of the cave where the emerging occupants were shot down.

K Company had captured "The Point", but Nakagawa counterattacked. Over the next 30 hours Nakagawa counterattacked four times against a sole company, critically low on supplies, out of water and surrounded. The Marines had to resort to hand-to-hand combat to fend off the Japanese attackers. By the time reinforcements arrived, the company had successfully repulsed all the Japanese attacks, but had been reduced to 18 men, suffering 157 casualties during the battle for The Point.[1]: 50–51  Hunt and Hahn were both awarded the Navy Cross for their actions.

Ngesebus Island[edit]

U.S. Marine in combat at Peleliu Island, September 1944

The 5th Marines—after having secured the airfield—were sent to capture Ngesebus Island, just north of Peleliu. Ngesebus was occupied by many Japanese artillery positions and was the site of an airfield still under construction. The tiny island was connected to Peleliu by a small causeway, but 5th Marines commander Harris opted instead to make a shore-to-shore amphibious landing, predicting the causeway to be an obvious target for the island's defenders.[1]: 77 

Harris coordinated a pre-landing bombardment of the island on 28 September, carried out by Army 155 mm (6.1 in) guns, naval guns, howitzers from the 11th Marines, strafing runs from VMF-114's Corsairs and 75 mm (2.95 in) fire from the approaching LVTs.[1]: 77  Unlike the Navy's bombardment of Peleliu, Harris' assault on Ngesebus successfully killed most of the Japanese defenders. The Marines still faced opposition in the ridges and caves, but the island fell quickly, with relatively light casualties for the 5th Marines. They had suffered 15 killed and 33 wounded and inflicted 470 casualties on the Japanese.

Bloody Nose Ridge[edit]

Marines waiting in their fighting holes

After capturing "The Point", the 1st Marines moved north into the Umurbrogol pocket,[1]: 81  named "Bloody Nose Ridge" by the Marines. Puller led his men in numerous assaults, but each resulted in severe casualties from Japanese fire. The 1st Marines were trapped in the narrow paths between the ridges, with each ridge fortification supporting the other with deadly crossfire.

A F4U Corsair drops napalm on Japanese positions atop Umurbrogol.

The Marines took increasingly high casualties as they slowly advanced through the ridges. The Japanese again showed unusual fire discipline, striking only when they could inflict maximum casualties. As casualties mounted, Japanese snipers began to take aim at stretcher bearers, knowing that if stretcher bearers were injured or killed, more would have to return to replace them and the snipers could steadily pick off more and more Marines. The Japanese also infiltrated the American lines at night to attack the Marines in their fighting holes. The Marines built two-man fighting holes, so one Marine could sleep while the other kept watch for infiltrators.

One particularly bloody battle on Bloody Nose came when the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines—under the command of Major Raymond Davis—attacked Hill 100. Over six days of fighting, the battalion suffered 71% casualties. Captain Everett P. Pope and his company penetrated deep into the ridges, leading his remaining 90 men to seize what he thought was Hill 100. It took a day's fighting to reach what he thought was the crest of the hill, which was in fact another ridge occupied by more Japanese defenders.

Marine Pfc. Douglas Lightheart (right) cradles his .30 caliber (7.62×63mm) M1919 Browning machine gun in his lap, while he and Pfc. Gerald Thursby Sr. take a cigarette break, during mopping up operations on Peleliu on September 15, 1944.

Trapped at the base of the ridge, Pope set up a small defensive perimeter, which was attacked relentlessly by the Japanese throughout the night. The Marines ran out of ammunition and had to fight the attackers with knives and fists, even resorting to throwing coral rock and empty ammunition boxes at the Japanese. Pope and his men managed to hold out until dawn, which brought on more deadly fire. When they evacuated the position, only nine men remained. Pope later received the Medal of Honor for the action. (Picture of the Peleliu Memorial dedicated on the 50th anniversary of the landing on Peleliu with Captain Pope's name)

The Japanese inflicted 70% casualties on Puller's 1st Marines, or 1,749 men.[1]: 66  After six days of fighting in the ridges of Umurbrogol, Geiger sent elements of the U.S. Army's 81st Infantry Division to Peleliu to relieve the regiment.[1]: 66  The 321st Regiment Combat Team landed on the western beaches of Peleliu—at the northern end of Umurbrogol mountain—on 23 September. The 321st and the 7th Marines encircled "The Pocket" by 24 September, D+9.[1]: 75, 81 

By 15 October the 7th Marines had suffered 46% casualties, and Geiger relieved them with the 5th Marines.[1]: 83  Col. Harris adopted siege tactics, using bulldozers and flame-thrower tanks, pushing from the north.[1]: 83–84  On 30 October the 81st Infantry Division took over command of Peleliu, taking another six weeks, with the same tactics, to reduce "The Pocket".[1]: 85 

After finishing the battle of Angaur, the 81st Infantry Division was ordered to assist the 1st Marine Division in their efforts to seize Peleliu. The 81st Infantry Division eventually relieved the 1st Marine Division, and assumed command of combat operations on Peleliu. The 81st Infantry Division remained engaged in the Battle of Peleliu until the end of organized Japanese resistance on 18 January 1945.

On 24 November Nakagawa proclaimed, "Our sword is broken and we have run out of spears". He then burnt his regimental colors and performed ritual suicide.[1]: 86  He was posthumously promoted to lieutenant general for his valor displayed on Peleliu. On 27 November the island was declared secure, ending the 73-day-long battle.[26]

A Japanese lieutenant with twenty-six 2nd Infantry soldiers and eight 45th Guard Force sailors held out in the caves in Peleliu until 22 April 1947 and surrendered after a Japanese admiral convinced them the war was over.[1]: 81 


Marines in a hospital on Guadalcanal after being wounded in the Battle of Peleliu

The reduction of the Japanese pocket around Umurbrogol mountain has been called the most difficult fight that the U.S. military encountered in the entire war.[29] The 1st Marine Division was mauled and remained out of action until the invasion of Okinawa began on 1 April 1945. In total, the 1st Marine Division suffered over 6,500 casualties during its month on Peleliu, over one third of the entire division. The 81st Infantry Division also suffered heavy losses with 3,300 casualties during its tenure on the island.

Postwar statisticians calculated that it took U.S. forces over 1,500 rounds of ammunition to kill each Japanese defender and that the Americans expended 13.32 million rounds of .30-calibre, 1.52 million rounds of .45-calibre, 693,657 rounds of .50-calibre bullets, 118,262 hand grenades, and 150,000 mortar rounds.[19]

The battle was controversial in the United States because the island lacked strategic value and yet cost so many American lives. The defenders lacked the means to interfere with potential US operations in the Philippines,[19] and the airfield captured on Peleliu did not play a key role in subsequent operations. Instead, the Ulithi Atoll in the Caroline Islands was used as a staging base for the invasion of Okinawa. The high casualty rate exceeded all other amphibious operations during the Pacific War.[13]

In addition, few news reports were published about the battle because Rupertus' prediction of a "three days" victory motivated only six reporters to report from shore. The battle was also overshadowed by MacArthur's return to the Philippines and the Allies' push towards Germany in Europe.

The battles for Angaur and Peleliu showed Americans the pattern of future Japanese island defense but they made few adjustments for the battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa.[30] Naval bombardment prior to amphibious assault at Iwo Jima was only slightly more effective than at Peleliu, but at Okinawa the preliminary shelling was much improved.[31] Frogmen performing underwater demolition at Iwo Jima confused the enemy by sweeping both coasts, but later alerted Japanese defenders to the exact assault beaches at Okinawa.[31] American ground forces at Peleliu gained experience in assaulting heavily fortified positions such as they would find again at Okinawa.[32]

On the recommendation of Admiral William Halsey Jr., the planned occupation of Yap Island in the Caroline Islands was canceled. Halsey actually recommended that the landings on Peleliu and Angaur be canceled, too, and their Marines and soldiers be sent to Leyte Island instead but this plan was overruled by Nimitz.[33]

In his book With the Old Breed, Eugene Sledge describes his experiences in the Battle for Peleliu. One of the final scenes in Parer's War, a 2014 Australian television film, shows the Battle of Peleliu recorded by Damien Parer with his camera at the time of his death.[34]

Individual honors[edit]


Posthumous promotions[edit]

For heroism:

  • Colonel Kunio Nakagawa – lieutenant general
  • Kenjiro Murai – lieutenant general

United States[edit]

Pfc. Richard Kraus, USMC (age 18), killed in action

Medal of Honor recipients[edit]

Unit citations[edit]

D-day Peleliu, African Americans of one of the two segregated units that supported the 7th Marines – the 16th Marine Field Depot or the 17th Naval Construction Battalion Special take a break in the 115 degree heat, 09-15-1944 – NARA – 532535
  • Presidential Unit Citation:
    • 1st Marine Division, 15–29 September 1944[35]
    • 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion, FMF[36]
    • U. S. Navy Flame Thrower Unit Attached[36]
    • 6th Amphibian Tractor Battalion (Provisional), FMF[36]
    • 3d Armored Amphibian Battalion (Provisional), FMF[36]
    • Detachment Eighth Amphibian Tractor Battalion, FMF[36]
    • 454th Amphibian Truck Company, U. S. Army[36]
    • 456th Amphibian Truck Company, U. S. Army[36]
    • 4th Joint Assault Signal Company, FMF[36]
    • 5th Separate Wire Platoon, FMF[36]
    • 6th Separate Wire Platoon, FMF[36]
    • Detachment 33rd Naval Construction Battalion (202 Personnel)[36]
    • Detachment 73rd Naval Construction Battalion's Shore Party (241 Personnel)[36]
  • USMC Commendatory Letter:[k]
    • 11th Marine Depot Company (segregated)
    • 7th Marine Ammunition Company (segregated)
    • 17th Special Naval Construction Battalion (segregated)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marines: at least 1,252 killed, DOW, missing presumed dead, and 5,274 wounded. Army: at least 260 killed/DOW and 1,008 wounded/injured. Navy: 50 killed, 11 DOW, 249 wounded. Navy medical records report a higher figure of 1,273 battle deaths for the Marines,[3] while Appendix H of "History of the USMC in World War II vol. IV" gives 1,336 killed, died of wounds, missing presumed dead, and 5,450 wounded, though a substantial part of those who died of wounds are also recorded as WIAs.
  2. ^ All Army casualties
  3. ^ Also included the Army's 81st Infantry Division (assigned to the capture of Angaur), the 77th Infantry Division, and the 5th Marine Division[21]
  4. ^ Because the III Amph. Corps was still struggling with the capture of Guam, Marine Corps planning for Stalemate II was assigned to Gen. Smith; operational command for the invasion was turned over to Gen. Geiger.[22]
  5. ^ Rupertus was not at peak effectiveness, having broken an ankle at Guadalcanal during landing practice for Stalemate II, but Smith learned of this too late to make a change in divisional command.[22]
  6. ^ While commanding the 1st Marine Division at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War, Smith announced, "Retreat, hell ... we're just advancing in a different direction."
  7. ^ Became the most decorated Marine in the history of the Corps.
  8. ^ "...stern-voice and strict disciplinarian;" served 10-year sentence on Guam for war crimes.[24]
  9. ^ Sadao sent Murai to Peleliu to provide sufficiently high Army rank to balance the command authority of Vice Adm. Ito, who was nominally in charge of Navy forces in the lower Palaus.[25]
  10. ^ Committed suicide along with Murai as the struggle for the Umurbrogol Pocket neared its end.
    • On D-day the 7th Marines had a situation. They did not have enough men to man the line and get the wounded to safety. Three men were sent to find help and found two segregated units, the 16th Marine Field Depot (11th Marine Depot Co. & 7th Marine Ammunition Co.)[40] and 17th Special CB. The Marines were not certain what their officers would think of them bringing African Americans but, they knew they needed help.[40] The 17th Special Seabees were assigned to the 1st Pioneers as shore party. Together with the 16th Depot Marines they helped with the wounded that day. At 0200 that night the Japanese mounted a counterattack. By the time it was over nearly the entire 17th had volunteered to hump ammo to the line on the stretchers they were bringing the wounded back on, fill in where the wounded had been, man 37mm guns that had lost their crews, and volunteer for anything. The record for the 16th Depot says they were carrying ammo and wounded back the same as the Seabees and had picked up rifles and become infantry where needed also.[41][42][43][44][45] The 17th Seabees remained with the 7th through D-plus 3. Before the battle was over and the island secured Maj. General Rupertus wrote three letters saying "Well Done" to the two Marine Companies and the CB . According to the Military History Encyclopedia on the Web, were it not for the "Black Marine shore party personal" the counterattack on the 7th Marines would not have been repulsed.[46]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Moran, J. and Rottman, G.L., 2002, Peleliu 1944, Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd., ISBN 1841765120
  2. ^ Taki. "The History of Batlles of Imperial Japanese Tanks". Plala (in Japanese). Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  3. ^ [1] Naval History and Heritage Command, "World War II casualties," citing "The Statistics of Diseases and Injuries. vol.3. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1950." Retrieved 2/10/23. "Invasion of Palau Islands: 1171 killed, 101 died of wounds, 1 died as a prisoner."
  4. ^ [2]"History of the USMC in World War II vol. IV: Western Pacific Operations p. 285, 797. Retrieved 2/10/23. Total for Peleliu island is 1,252 killed, DOW, MIAPD, and 5,274 wounded. Appendix H lists 1,050 killed, 250 died of wounds, 36 missing presumed dead, and 5,450 wounded, including many of those who later died.
  5. ^ [3]"History of the USMC in World War II vol. IV: Western Pacific Operations p. 285. Retrieved 2/10/23. Total Palau Group: 542 killed and 2,736 wounded or injured in action.
  6. ^ [4]"Casualty Report Number II" 8 May 1945, p. 65. Retrieved 2/10/23. 424 killed, 179 died of wounds, 9 missing in action, 2,313 wounded and injured in action
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  9. ^ <ref>[7]"History of the USMC in World War II vol. IV: Western Pacific Operations p. 179, 253. Retrieved 2/10/23. According to American records, the Japanese lost more than 12,000 dead and 300 prisoners on the 3 main islands, excluding several dozen more who survived the initial battle and were captured or killed later.
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  37. ^ The Right to Fight:African American Marines in WWII, Peleliu and Iwo Jima, Bernard C. Nalty, Marine Corps Historical Center, Building 58, Washington Navy Yard, Washington D.C. 20374, 1974, PCN 190-003132-00 "The Right to Fight: African-American Marines in World War II (Peleliu and Iwo Jima)".
  38. ^ African Americans at War: an Encyclopedia, Volume I, Jonathan D. Sutherland, ABC, CLIO, Santa Barbara, Ca, 2004, p. 480, ISBN 1-57607-746-2
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Further reading[edit]

  • Camp, Dick (2009). Last Man Standing: The 1st Marine Regiment on Peleliu, September 15–21, 1944. Zenith Press. ISBN 978-0760334935.

External links[edit]