The Battle of Peleliu, codenamed Operation Stalemate II, was one of the most brutal and controversial of WW2. While it was expected to last a mere 4 days, the reality was over 2 months of intense fighting in 100+ degree weather. This scene from my Battle of Peleliu series - Coral & Blood - depicts the D-Day landing on this small coral island. Place: White Beach I, Peleliu, Palau Islands. Date: 15 September 1944. Time: 08.30. Main Combatants: USMC vs. Japanese Imperial Army. While the marine names below are fictitious, the scene is based on the realities of this harsh campaign...
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Pvt. Donahue joins his fellow marines, of the 1st Marine Division, as they head toward White Beach I. He's carrying part of a mortar. The easy landing promised by the Navy after pre-invasion bombardment proved to be anything BUT easy, as the USMC dealt with new Japanese island defense tactics and took heavy fire from The Point (see more on this ferocious Japanese stronghold at the bottom of this page).
Lt. Whitaker also heads toward the beach....
...and is shot by a Japanese sniper.
View from a Japanese machine gunner's pillbox.
Vantage point of the Japanese sniper that shot Lt. Whitaker.
Casualty Row: Sgt. Johnson chewed up by an MG, Pvt. Smith shot through the chest by a rifle, and LCpl. Carlton hit by a 47mm artillery piece. Only a few fleshy pieces are left on that last one.
The Japanese buried thousands of artillery shells, with their fuses exposed, on the Peleliu landing beaches. These exploded when stepped on or run over. That's what happened to this poor fellow.
Gunney Roberts was unlucky enough to have a 47mm shell land next to him.
Gunney's buddy reacts to his friend's misfortune.
Master Sgt. Callahan, torn to pieces by a Japanese 25mm auto cannon, firing down from The Point.
A US jeep, hit by the same Japanese 25mm auto cannon, is now a piece of scrap metal. Above: view from the back of the jeep. Below: view from the side.
The Point. A heavily armed and nearly impregnable Japanese stronghold. Located on a strategic promotory overlooking White Beach 1, its Japanese auto cannon and artillery fire dessimated USMC landing forces. Many marines who did make it ashore had lost their weapons or gear.
Overhead view of the Japanese casement at The Point. The real casement was sealed closed.
Japanese Type 96 25mm auto cannon. Fires a 25mm artillery shell at 200-260 rpm. One of the best Japanese weapons of all time, in my opinion.
Side view of the casement. In the foreground is a Type 1 47mm anti-tank artillery gun. Yes, they were firing anti-tank shells at US infantry! Ow. By day's end, the 1st Marine Division had secured their landing beach, but little else. That was with 200 dead and 900 wounded. Little did they know that the fighting for control of Peleliu had just begun...