I have had the privilege and honor of visiting many of our WW2 Marine battlefields over the years and this past January, I visited Peleliu for the second time. With almost a full week of exploration, I was able to traverse much of the battlefield and get a feel for the terrain that our Marines dealt with in 1944. While the jungle has taken over much of the battlefield, one can still readily see how impossible the terrain was……craggy, sharp coral dominates the battlefield, whether it be low-lying coral ridges or the Umobrogal Mountains. I can't imagine fighting there, especially considering that in September 1944, there was very little foliage and the temperatures hovered around 100 degrees. We explored Bloody Nose Ridge, Pope's Ridge, the Point, and the coral Badlands, just to name a few. Signs of a desperate, horrific fight were everywhere. A Japanese tank still sits on the airfield where it was taken out by the 5th Marines…LTV's can be found…….shrapnel and battlefield debris are everywhere. We climbed and crawled through Bloody Nose Ridge, stopping at each fighting position, marveling at how the 1st Division Marines conquered a dug in enemy. While Iwo Jima and Tarawa hold much of our attention in Marine Corps history, Peleliu is arguably the toughest battle our Marines fought in WW2, when you consider the ferocity of the enemy, the climate, and the terrain.
I am including a picture I took from the Point area on White Beach. This shows the view that the Japanese had as they took aim at our Marines landing. It is easy to see how they could inflict such heavy casualties and why taking that position and the heavy machine gun positions behind it were so key to victory. I am looking to talk to any Peleliu veterans so please contact me at my email address below if interested.
4th Division, 14th Marines