Battle of Peleliu

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Palau Islands campaign

The Battle of Peleliu, codenamed Operation Stalemate II, was fought between the United States and the Empire of Japan in the Pacific Theater of World War II, from September to November 1944 on the island of Peleliu, present-day Palau. U.S. forces (originally consisting of only the 1st Marine Division, but later relieved by the Army's 81st Infantry Division), fought to capture an airstrip on the small coral island.

Major General William Rupertus, commander of 1st Marine Division, predicted the island would be secured within four days. However, due to Japan's well-crafted fortifications and stiff resistance, the battle lasted over two months. It remains one of the war's most controversial command decisions because of the island's questionable strategic value and the very high death toll. Considering the number of men involved, Peleliu had the highest casualty rate of any battle in the Pacific War.[1] The National Museum of the Marine Corps called it "the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines".[2]

Contents

Background

By the summer of 1944, 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. 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 mainland. Admiral Chester Nimitz favored a more direct strategy of bypassing the Philippines, but seizing Okinawa and Formosa as staging areas to an attack on the Chinese mainland, followed by the future invasion of Japan's southernmost islands.

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