Pen & Sword's Images of War: Battle of Peleliu 1944
|Pen & Sword|
|$24.95 from Casemate|
242 pages, softcover, 7.5 x 9.5 inches
This addition to the Images of War series concentrates on the campaign in the Palaus, specifically Peleliu and to a lesser point Angaur. This particular campaign was considered necessary as McArthur did not want to be concerned about Japanese bombers from this area menacing his landings at Leyte in the Philippines. This was to be a joint USMC/US Army mission with the Marines initially tackling Peleliu and the Army the smaller island of Angaur.
During this campaign, the DUKW, waterborne truck, was first used to help bring in later troops and supplies. The initiall assault was via AMTRACKs, which were landing craft on tracks. These vehicles would be able to clamber over the reef and bring troops straight to the beach. They were lightly armored to protect against small arms fire.
There was the usual pre-invasion bombardment by naval gunfire as well as by the aircraft carriers that were operating with the task group. After two of the three days of bombardment, the battleship group had apparently run out of targets so left for the Philippines. Just prior to the landing of troops, LCIs that were fitted with rocket launchers pounded the landing areas.
What was not realized is that the Japanese were well dug in and most survived the preparation. Artillery and mortar fire as well as heavy machine gun emplacements took a deadly toll on the Marines headed for the beach. Casualties were high. What made matters worse is that once inland, there was no way to dig foxholes through the coral surface. In addition, the Japanese did not do any mass banzai charges and continued to pick away at troops. They retreated to the high ground were caves protected them from artillery and enabled them to continue to harass the Marines. What was supposed to last three days extended to nearly three months and even after the island was deemed secure, there were still pockets of troops, the last ones not surrendering until 1954.
There was and has been a lot of debate as to whether this campaign was really needed or not. Hindsight shows that the Japanese simply did not have the planes needed to cause any sort of trouble for the Leyte operation and there was some animosity between the Army and the Marines as both services went about waging war in a very different way.
As with all books in this series, it is full of period photos with enough history so you know what went on. Included in this edition are several pages of Tom Lea's superlative art work. I still vividly recall some of those images that I saw in a Life book on WWII back 55 years ago. A great addition to the series and one that can be easily recommended.
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