The Beach and the Plan2Detailed planning by the assault unit scheduled for the Peleliu landing began on 2 June 1944, when CinCPOA's warning order of 29 May was received by the 1st Marine Division. It was now resting and reorganizing on Pavuvu in the Russells, a small island group about 65 miles northwest of Guadalcanal, having arrived there in April following the strenuous New Britain campaign. Although Major General Rupertus was absent in Washington arranging for replacements, Brigadier General Oliver P. Smith, the Assistant Division Commander, immediately initiated a staff study of the proposed assault. As soon as the G-2 officer assembled all available maps and aerial photographs of Peleliu and adjacent islands, the staff members began a careful examination of the beaches. In spite of the fact that higher echelons provided very little guidance during this early phase of the planning or that little intelligence of the island was available, the division managed to have a workable plan by the time of the commanding general's return.
Knowledge of Peleliu's beaches and terrain came almost solely from photographs, for it was nearly impossible to land a reconnaissance patrol and expect it to scout successfully the interior of the small, strongly-held island. The Fifth Fleet's carrier strike in March had made the first systematic aerial surveillance of the Palaus, and subsequent flights by carrier planes and the
land-based aircraft of the Fifth Air Force obtained up-to-date vertical and oblique shots of the island chain. In addition, photographic profiles of all potential beaches were taken by the submarine, USS Seawolf, during the period 23-28 June.
A month later, another submarine surfaced off Peleliu with the intention of landing small underwater demolition teams (UDTs) by rubber boats. Bright moonlit nights, coupled with active Japanese radar and constant air and sea patrols, however, kept the USS Burrfish submerged for two weeks, during which time it could only take periscope photographs of the island's shore lines. Finally, on a dark night, a five-man landing party succeeded in paddling ashore on a beach later used in the assault. Much valuable data was obtained, but vital beach information, such as depth of water, nature of shoals, and type of bottom, had to wait upon the explorations of the UDTs working under the protective cover of naval gunfire just prior to the landing.
The intelligence officers of X-Ray Provisional Amphibious Corps regularly passed on to the 1st Marine Division and other assault units the latest maps and photographs as well as the current estimate of the enemy's strength. The standard map of Peleliu for the operation was compiled by CinCPOA cartographers and drawn on a scale of 1:20,000. Although the map contained some errors, it was workable and accurate for most of the island. Front line units received blown-up sections on the larger scale of 1:10,000 and 1:5,000. Following the fortuitous capture on Saipan of certain 31st Army Headquarters files, Americans knew almost to a man the size of the Japanese garrisons in the Palaus. Although modified by later findings, this estimate served as the basis for tactical planning by the assault forces.
Right from the start, the Marine planners noted that the Peleliu landing would be different from any of the 1st Marine Division's earlier operations. To cross the 600-700-yard reef all along the prospective beachhead--similar to the situation encountered at Tarawa--would necessitate transporting the troops, equipment, and supplies across the coral obstacles solely by amphibian tractors. In addition, while the southern part of the island was flat and low, like an atoll, the parallel ridges just to the north of the airfield possessed some of the most rugged and easily defended terrain yet encountered by American forces in the Pacific. Peleliu, therefore, would repeat many of the difficulties encountered at Tarawa, as well as some which were met on Saipan.3
Although Peleliu abounded with beaches suitable in size for a division landing, the Marine staff quickly selected the western ones as being most preferable. The eastern beaches, backed by sprawling swamps that would hinder movement inland, had been discarded early, as were the extreme northern ones which were too far from the
prime objective of the assault, the airfield.
The division planners finally narrowed the choice down to three courses of action: (1) to land on the beaches overlapping the airfield; (2) to land on the beaches overlapping the airfield, while at the same time landing on the two promontories at the southern end of the island; or (3) to land on the beaches north of the airfield.
At first, the Marine officers had leaned toward the idea of making a two-pronged assault, with one regiment landing on the southern promontories while another one attacked across the beaches overlapping the airfield. Later, however, a more complete photographic coverage revealed that the promontories were strongly fortified and that the reef between them was covered with concrete tetrahedrons and was heavily sown with mines. An expert in UDT techniques warned, also, that the pillboxes ringing the coves could prohibit demolition work on the reef. The third possibility, landing in the north, was discarded because the ground rose abruptly into jungle-covered cliffs which would deprive the division of maneuver space.
By the time General Rupertus returned on 21 June, his staff members felt that an attack over the western beaches overlapping the airfield best favored success; after making his own estimate, the division commander agreed. The code name of WHITE and ORANGE were given to the selected beaches.
Although the 1st Marine Division's staff inaugurated the detailed planning for the Peleliu landing, the amphibious corps slated for the assault (X-Ray--redesignated IIIAC on 15 August 1944) passed on the proposed plan before giving it a stamp of approval. For instance, when Rupertus wanted to assault the objective with two regiments, holding the other afloat as reserve, General Julian C. Smith recommended a simultaneous landing by three infantry regiments, with a RCT of the 81st Infantry Division as division reserve. After returning from Guam and assuming charge of X-Ray, General Geiger ruled that the Marine division would land with three regiments abreast, less one battalion landing team as the division's sole reserve.
The reserve's small size was not considered risky, for the embarked troops of the 81st Infantry Division were not to be committed to the Angaur landing until the situation on Peleliu had passed the critical assault phase. In addition, one RCT of the 81st was to be held afloat as corps reserve. Disturbing for the future, however, was Rupertus' apparent unwillingness to make use of available Army troops. This early reluctance foreshadowed the division commander's marked refusal, later, to employ Army units as reinforcements during the critical first week ashore on Peleliu.
General Smith, as the Marine Corps spokesman during the inter-service planning, took exception to the Navy's proposal for Angaur's seizure before the Peleliu landing. This course of action, the general explained, would permit the Japanese to rush reinforcements from Babelthuap down the island chain onto Angaur, thus prolonging the fighting there. To seize Peleliu first, he argued,
would make it impossible for additional enemy troops to reach Angaur. Eventually, the naval planning staff was brought around to Smith's way of thinking "but, desiring Angaur for construction of a second airfield, continued throughout to press for the earliest possible landing on that island."4
As finally approved, the scheme of maneuver for the Peleliu assault called for the landing of three RCTs abreast on a 2,200-yard-wide beachhead, followed by a drive straight across the island to seize the airfield and to divide the enemy forces. On order, a reinforced battalion would make a shore-to-shore assault against Ngesebus Island and capture its fighter strip.
On the left (north) flank of the beachhead, over the WHITE Beaches, the 1st Marines would land two of its battalions abreast, with the remaining one in regimental reserve. After driving inland and helping to secure the airfield, the regiment was to pivot left and attack toward the high ground north of the airfield.
Landing in the center over Beaches ORANGE 1 and 2, the 5th Marines would use two battalions in assault and one in support. While the left battalion tied in with elements of the 1st Marines, the other assaulting battalion would push straight across the island to the eastern shore. The support battalion, to be landed at H plus 1, would attack across the airfield and then participate in a wheeling movement northward. Once the airfield was captured, the mission of the 5th Marines would be to seize the northeastern peninsula and its nearby islets.
Only one beach, ORANGE 3, was assigned to the 7th Marines, for it was to land in a column of battalions, with its 2d Battalion remaining afloat as division reserve. The first battalion ashore was to attack eastward in conjunction with the 5th Marines, while the following battalion was to swing right and attack southward. After the opposite shore had been reached, all of the might of the 7th would be thrown into a push to the southern promontories, wiping out any Japanese holdouts in that area.
The 11th Marines, reinforced by the 8th 155mm Gun Battalion and the 3d 155mm Howitzer Battalion, both from corps artillery, was to land on order after H plus 1 over the ORANGE Beaches. Once ashore, the regiment would set up so that its 1st and 2d Battalions would be in direct support of the 1st and 5th Marines, respectively, while its 3d and 4th Battalions, together with the corps artillery, would be in support of the division. Four hours after the 11th Marines was ashore, all battalions were to be prepared to mass their fires on the ridges north of the airfield. In addition, the 8th 155mm Gun Battalion had the assignment of locating its artillery pieces so as to provide supporting fire for the Army division's later assault on Angaur.
The scheme of maneuver selected by the division commander contained the best features of the two discarded courses of action. The approach to the White and Orange beaches avoided the enemy-emplaced hazards on the reef off the southern beach. Once ashore, the massed division could attack inland swiftly over the low flat ground that was well-suited for the employment of tanks. Such a rapid advance would quickly gain the island's airfield, uncover maneuver room for the division, and strike the main enemy beach defenses on the east coast from the rear. With the early seizure of the opposite shore, the division could operate multiple unloading points in order to speed up the disgorging of the thousands of tons of cargo needed to sustain the offensive.
The scheme did have one real danger, however. The Marines would be forced to attack across the low flat ground while the dominating ridges remained in enemy hands. The Japanese were sure to have guns of large caliber emplaced on those commanding heights. Nevertheless, the division officers willingly accepted this risk, because of the scheme's other obvious advantages. They also figured that the 7th Marines would easily mop up the southern portion of Peleliu on the first day, after which it could help the 1st Marines take the key ridges north of the airfield. Until such time as the combined striking power of the two RCTs could be massed against the defenders on the ridges, the 1st Marines would be supported by the concentrated fire of planes, gunfire ships, artillery, and tanks.
Even with the benefit of hindsight, it still is difficult to challenge the Marine officers' reasoning. After the war, however, some criticism was raised as to whether there would have been fewer Marine dead, if the landing had taken place on the north beaches at the foot of the commanding ridges.5 Granted that a successful assault at this point could have given the division control of the key terrain early in the campaign, anything less than 100 percent execution would have been fatal. If the momentum of the initial assault failed to seize the ridgeline, then the Marines would have been stranded on a narrow low beachhead, without room to maneuver or emplace supporting artillery, while the enemy would be literally looking down their throats.
The unanimity of opinion among Marines who participated in the operation and later had a chance to examine the island's terrain and Japanese defenses in great detail is that the correct course of action was taken. Typical of their attitude is the following comment:
None of the remaining beaches which might permit a landing in force would allow the rapid development of an adequate beachhead which is so essential in a landing operation. The Division Command was confronted with the problem of selecting
the least undesirable of several beaches. In the light of those factors as well as the later developments, the correctness of the decision to land on the White and Orange beaches is hardly open to question.6
Logistic Considerations7While the assault Marines received more newspaper coverage than did the logistic commands, the latter are, of course, just as essential to victory on the battlefield. The service units, performing the unquoted tasks of tending the wounded, furnishing tactical and logistical transport, providing all combat equipment and supplies, and repairing troop weapons, vehicles and other equipment, were a decisive factor behind every successful amphibious landing in the Pacific War. STALEMATE II was no exception.
To supply the vast and complex assortment of ships, equipment, and troops required for the Palau Operation, all the major Pacific commands had to be called upon for support. Only the closest liaison among these various echelons made it possible for logistic preparations to proceed smoothly. "Overall requirements for supplies, materials, and service personnel needed for the Palau operations were ascertained by joint study. Policies affecting the Army, Navy, and Marines were implemented by interservice and intra-staff planning."8 Available shipping, always a limiting factor in amphibious undertakings, had to be tightly scheduled, while the estimated arrival dates of the cargo vessels bringing the heavier base development equipment directly from the United States had to be carefully calculated.
The basic guidelines for STALEMATE II's logistic planning were set forth on 1 August 1944 by Admiral Halsey's Operation Plan 14-44, which also instructed all combatant and auxiliary ships to make a special effort to ensure they sailed from the mounting points for the target with the maximum authorized loads of ammunition, fuel, and fresh provisions. Now began an intense period of activity as all the major bases of the Pacific commands pitched in to provide the necessary logistic support, and a 24-hour workday with 12-hour shifts became the norm.
While the various warships and cargo ships took on dry provisions, the fleet tankers loaded to half capacity with Diesel oil and aviation gasoline and topped to maximum draft with fuel oil. Fresh and frozen foods, however, were available only in limited quantities, and battleships, cruisers, and carriers were provisioned to serve at least one completely dry ration every sixth day. By the last part of August, the stocks had been exhausted, and a Marine unit requesting
fresh meat and vegetables for its troops was forced to sail for Peleliu with only a supply of emergency rations instead.
All types of vessels, from the 90,000-ton floating dry-dock to the hospital ships, steamed toward the designated staging areas. In the Tulagi-Purvis Bay region of the Solomons alone, there were gathered at one time 255 vessels, with ship movements averaging 122 daily during the last week of August. From the far reaches of the Pacific, the various vessels began to rendezvous at the mounting areas of Manus, in the Admiralty Islands, about 1,000 miles in a southwesterly direction from the objective, and Eniwetok Atoll, some 1,500 miles northeast of Peleliu.
The IIIAC assault elements and accompanying garrison forces were directed by Headquarters, Expeditionary Troops, to carry with them sufficient rations for 32 days, water enough for 5 days when pro-rated at 2 gallons per man per day, medical supplies to last 30 days, and a 20-day supply of clothing, fuel, lubricants, and miscellaneous equipment. For the assault phase, all weapons would be allowed five units of fire--a unit of fire being that amount of ammunition which CinCPOA had determined from previous campaigns would last for one day of heavy fighting.9 In addition, the 105mm howitzers would be issued another two units, and the 57mm antitank guns supplied with five more. The 1st Marine Division, moreover, arranged to carry an additional 10 units of flamethrower fillers and explosives, since it expected to encounter numerous fortified positions on Peleliu.
Detailed planning for Marine and naval cooperation during the Peleliu assault began 8 August, when a joint conference at Pavuvu was attended by the staffs of General Rupertus and Admiral Fort, commander of the Western Attack Force. At this time, the division's proposed scheme of maneuver was presented, thus permitting Admiral Fort to determine what support would be required of his force. Naval gunfire and air support plans were worked on jointly by the respective staff members concerned with these matters, and the use of UDTs for clearing away underwater obstacles and the selection of potential landing beaches for the various amphibious craft were discussed in detail.
Two days later, the Commander of Transport Group 3, the division's assigned lift, arrived with members of his staff. This time, the regimental commanders and their staffs joined the conferences planning the combat loading of the assault forces for the Peleliu operation.10 During this phase of joint planning, the details of boat allocation,
landing plans, and control of the landing waves were ironed out. Lieutenant Colonel Robert G. Ballance, commanding the 1st Pioneer Battalion, was involved frequently in these conferences, for he was to be the division shore party commander.
[Full details of the landing operations described below can be found in the Field Manuals and doctrine publications of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. --HyperWar]
By the time of STALEMATE II, the Marine Corps' amphibious techniques for an assault landing over a fringing reef had been battle-tested, modified where necessary, and molded into a smooth working ship-to-shore operation. Since previous Pacific campaigns had revealed that the LVT (Landing Vehicle, Tracked) was indispensable to the uninterrupted flow of assault troops past the coral barriers guarding the enemy's shores, every man in the assault forces at Peleliu was transported to the beach in an amphibian tractor.
These vehicles and their infantry passengers, as well as the LVT(A)s (armored amphibian tractors), were carried to the target by LSTs (Landing Ships, Tank). At a distance safe from enemy shore batteries, the LSTs opened their massive doors and disgorged the amphibians loaded with the assault Marines. The LVTs then proceeded to within roughly 4,000 yards of the beach. Here, along the line of departure, the vehicles were reformed into waves and headed in succession toward the beaches. Patrol craft and submarine chasers were stationed at this and other control lines to regulate movement. These vessels served also to facilitate communications between the various elements of this complex amphibious operation.
Upon reaching the reef, the amphibian tractors would crawl over and continue landward. At a point several hundred yards offshore, the LVT(A)s, which made up the initial assault wave, would begin firing their cannon for the last minute support of the assault troops in the following waves of LVTs. Once ashore, the Marines could get prompt artillery support from 75mm pack howitzers landed, ready for action, from the rear ramps on the most recent version of the LVT. Additional support was to be furnished by 105mm howitzers, brought onto the beach by DUKWs (21/2-ton amphibious cargo trucks) which had been specially equipped with an A-frame unloading device to land the completely-assembled 105.
The division's tanks would be preloaded in LCTs (Landing Craft, Tank) which, in turn, were loaded unto the well decks of LSDs (Landing Ships, Dock). Once in the unloading zone, the decks of these floating drydocks were flooded with water. After the huge stern gates of the LSDs had swung open, the LCTs emerged for a run to the reef, where the tanks, specially waterproofed beforehand, debarked and continued ashore under their own power.
An innovation first tested at Peleliu was the use of LVTs to guide these tanks onto the beaches. Evolved to prevent delays and casualties such as those experienced during the Marianas campaign, this successful technique was described by a Marine tank officer in the following account:
An LVT was placed on each LCT to lead the tanks ashore. These LVTs were used to test the depth of the water, and as long as they propelled themselves along the bottom the tanks would follow, but if the
LVTs became waterborne the tanks would stop until the LVTs could reconnoiter a safe passage. . . . Fuel, ammunition and maintenance supplies were loaded on these LVTs which enabled the tank units to have a mobile supply dump available to thereupon reaching the beach.11
For the rest of the troops, equipment, and supplies, the passage to the target area was made in assault cargo and personnel transports. The Marines were moved from their transports to the line of departure by LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel), where they were formed into waves and dispatched to a transfer line just seaward of the coral. For the remainder of the trip to the beachhead, the troops and their equipment were transferred into empty LVTs and DUKWs which had returned from the beach to shuttle the rest of the Marines and their gear to shore.
Since the LVTs had a waterborne speed of about 4.5 miles per hour, the trip from the line of departure to the beach was estimated as 30 minutes and from the transfer line, 15 minutes. Preceding the first wave of troops and scheduled to hit the beaches at H-Hour were the armored amphibians. A minute later, the initial assault troops would land, with the following waves scheduled to land at five-minute intervals. Within the first 20 minutes, five assault battalions, comprising some 4,500 men, were to be on their assigned beaches, and tanks would begin landing over the edge of the reef. Four minutes later, the regimental weapons companies were to begin landing and, by H plus 85 minutes, with the coming ashore of three more infantry battalions, there would be 8,000 combat Marines on the beachhead.
To follow, of course, would be the remaining 17,000 men of the reinforced division, their equipment, and the some 34,500 tons of initial supply support. The division logisticians planned to leave practically all the bulk cargo either in the cargo nets or on the pallets loaded on board the ships at the embarkation points in order to expedite unloading at the target.12 When these pre-packaged loads made the trip from ship to the supply dump on land, they would be moved intact at each necessary transfer point by crane instead of being unloaded and reloaded, piece by piece, by manpower. If necessary, the pallets could be dumped on the edge of the reef and hauled to the beach by bulldozer. In all, the division utilized some 2,200 pallets, attempting to palletize a representative portion of the bulk cargo. As it turned out, however, the items found most suitable for palletizing were ammunition, barbed wire, and pickets.
In charge of all unloading activities to the seaward of the beaches was the transport group beachmaster. Under him were three transport division beachmasters, each responsible for the unloading in front of a regimental beach. Each of these beaches was assigned a reef beach party and a shore
beach party. The reef beach party was responsible for the amphibian vehicles and boats when afloat and. had the task of marking approaches over the reef and points on it where craft unable to negotiate the coral barrier could be beached. The shore beach party became the naval platoon of the regimental shore party and, as such, performed its normal functions in connection with marking of the beaches, salvage, and evacuation.
As the division shore party commander at Peleliu, Lieutenant Colonel Ballance supervised the handling of supplies on and in the rear of the beaches, as well as the casualties arriving from the battalion aid stations. He had the further responsibility of providing for the close-in defenses of the beach areas.
Initially, the division shore party was to be decentralized with a detachment of the subordinate regimental shore party going in with each assault battalion. Each regiment had been furnished a company of pioneers from Lieutenant Colonel Ballance's 1st Pioneer Battalion as the framework for its shore party.
As soon as possible, the regimental shore party commander was to take over and consolidate the unloading operations on his beach. In turn, Lieutenant Colonel Ballance, upon landing, was to assume control of all shore party activities and to select the best beaches over which supplies would continue to be unloaded. To insure that the vital stream of supplies continued to flow into the supply dumps on the beaches, the colonel planned to maintain the closest of coordination with the various beach parties.
Later, when all assault shipping was ashore, the beach dumps were to be taken over by the 16th Field Depot, a Marine supply agency designated as part of the Island Command but attached to the 1st Marine Division for the assault phase. This innovation worked extremely well from the Marines' standpoint, for it made the field depot subject to the direct orders of the division's commanding general. According to the commanding officer of the 1st Service Battalion, this arrangement made all "the difference between ordering and asking.13
Another technique, first improvised during the Marianas campaign, was included in the original plans for the Peleliu assault. Two provisional companies of infantry replacements were attached to the shore party, until such time as they would be needed to fill depleted ranks in the rifle regiments. The shore party could make good use of these extra men during the critical unloading phase, and they would be readily available for deployment as riflemen on the front lines when needed. The heavy losses of the 1st Marines during the first week of the Peleliu campaign accentuated the wisdom of planning for combat replacements and, in the later Iwo Jima operation, each Marine division had two replacement drafts attached to its shore party.
Logistic support on D-Day was expected to be hectic and difficult. The assault battalions would be able to take in with them only limited quantities of
rations, water, and ammunition, and the anticipated heavy fighting would make it particularly important to assure an adequate resupply of ammunition and water. To safeguard this vital flow of supplies reaching the embattled Marines ashore, certain improvisations were made and precautions taken by the logistic planners.
Until such time as a pontoon causeway could be constructed over the reef to the Peleliu beaches, the creation of an artificial, waterborne supply beach seaward of the reef was imperative. For this purpose, 24 pontoon barges were lashed to the sides of LSTs for the journey from the Solomons to the target. These barges had been formed by fastening pontoon cells, seven cells long and three wide, into a single unit. When an outboard motor was attached, they became self-propelled. Once in the unloading area, only the lines holding the barges to the sides of the LSTs had to be loosened and the barges would be launched into the water, ready to proceed under their own power.
Nine of these barges, which had been modified to allow the mounting of cranes on them, would be dropped into the sea early on D-Day. After having swing cranes lowered onto them and secured, the barges would proceed to a point approximately 1,000 yards seaward of the reef. Their job was to facilitate the transfer of bulk supplies from the boats bringing them from the cargo ships to the amphibians for transportation across the reef and onto the beach. If shore-based enemy fire proved too dangerous, the barges could move under their own power to a safer spot farther out.
Three other barges were to provide fuel and lubricating oil for the LVTs. After being launched from the LSTs, these self-propelled barges were to be loaded with 80-octane gasoline and lubricating oil and dispatched to a point just off the reef. One was assigned to each regimental beach, and they all were ordered to erect a large banner, marked "Gas," so that the LVTs could easily recognize them.
The remaining 12 barges would be used to establish floating dumps. Since the transports and cargo ships were expected to retire to safer waters out to sea at nightfall, provision had to be made for an accessible supply of critical items which would be needed by the assault battalions during the hours of darkness. Upon being launched, these barges would proceed to designated cargo ships, where they would take on predetermined loads of infantry and tank ammunition, flamethrower fuel, motor fuel, lubricants, emergency rations, and water in drums, before continuing on to report to their assigned transport division beachmasters for mooring off the reef. Large painted numbers on the sides of the barges would aid the drivers of the LVTs and DUKWs in identifying the type of load contained in each. The amphibians could come alongside the barge and load by hand, or the barge might be placed next to a crane for speedier loading.
The problem of how to insure an immediately accessible supply of high expenditure rate items, such as mortar and machine gun ammunition and flamethrower fuel, for the assaulting troops during the afternoon of D-Day was also resolved. At Peleliu, the amphibian
cargo trailer would be utilized in quantity for the first time. This Marine-designed vehicle had an axle and two pneumatic tires on the bottom while its top could be bolted into place, making it waterproof. Pre-loaded in the Russells, the trailers could be lowered into the sea by cranes at the transport area and towed by LCVPs to the reef, where amphibians would hook onto them, drag them across the jagged coral barrier, and finish towing them the rest of the way to the beach. Each rifle regiment was allotted 13 of these trailers and the artillery regiment 20.
Another method of handling priority cargo was by means of specially loaded LCVPs. Certain of the assault ships would set aside eight LCVPs, preloaded with infantry ammunition, flamethrower fuel, and water. On D-Day, these LCVPs would be dispatched to the reef off their assigned regimental beaches. The respective regimental shore parties would be briefed on the contents of the different type loads and could send out LVTs or DUKWs to locate the correct LCVP and take on a load. In a similar manner, LCMs (Landing Craft, Mechanized) were to be loaded with artillery ammunition in order to meet urgent requests for resupply of the Marine batteries ashore.
Since Peleliu lacked surface water and its enervating climate would accelerate consumption, preparations were made to insure an adequate supply for the attacking infantrymen. Every available 5-gallon can was pre-filled to the brim and scheduled for an early trip to shore, while scoured-out 55-gallon oil drums would hold a reserve supply. After the engineers managed to set up distillation apparatus and drill new wells, the water problem was expected to vanish.
Throughout the logistic planning for STALEMATE II, the short supply of shipping in the Pacific was always a limiting factor. An unfortunate example of this situation was the fact that only four LSDs were available and these were equally divided by IIIAC planners between the Peleliu and Angaur assault units. The division found itself able to lift only 30 tanks and had to leave 16 behind. This decision aroused criticism, for Peleliu was more heavily defended and more suitable for tank operations than Angaur, where, as it turned out, only one company of tanks was ever employed at one time. As the commanding officer of the 1st Tank Battalion later stated:
. . . it is my belief that a serious error, indefensible from the tank viewpoint, was made in splitting the available tank shipping . . . as events proved it was extremely unsound in view of the desperate need for additional tanks throughout the first five (5) days of the operation . . . our Corps staff at that time did not include a tank section, greatly handicapping tank planning at Corps level.14
The lack of shipping space, coupled with the planners' belief that Peleliu's limited land area would not cause a serious transportation problem, resulted in the breaking up of the 1st Motor Transport Battalion as an integral unit. Only Company A was allowed to lift its organic equipment, including repair facilities, and, even
then, its platoons were distributed among the infantry regiments to expedite the movement of supplies from the beach to the forward areas during the initial advance inland. Company C was detached during the operation and its men utilized as amphibian tractor drivers, and Headquarters and Service Company was assigned the responsibility for the division's maintenance and fuel supply, while Marines of Company B were to serve as stretcher bearers, relief drivers, and reserve troops throughout the campaign. Since each individual unit of the division down to company level was allowed to lift up to five vehicles, depending upon its mission, the total number of trucks carried to the target approximated the number that would have been organic to the 1st Motor Transport Battalion, but the lack of centralized control proved far from satisfactory. In the battalion commander's view:
This proved to be a serious handicap in the direct supply of troops. With few exceptions, there were no trucks available for the movement of troops even though the tactical situation of then [during the Peleliu campaign] called for the expeditious movement of troops by vehicular transportation.15
PAVUVU, TROOP TRAINING, AND SHORTAGES16Following the Cape Gloucester campaign in the debilitating rain forests of New Britain, the Marines of the 1st Division were badly in need of rest and rehabilitation. A suitable camp was already available on Guadalcanal but, instead, General Geiger chose the small island of Pavuvu, in hopes of sparing his exhausted men the distasteful task of furnishing large working parties each day to the Island Command as was customary on the larger island. He had made the selection following a reconnaissance of Pavuvu by air and with the expectation that a battalion of Seabees would be there preparing facilities.
Upon the Marines' arrival in April 1944, they discovered to their dismay that the 10-mile long piece of coral was virtually a jungle, with the abandoned plantation long overgrown and rats and rotting coconuts practically everywhere. The 15th Naval Construction Battalion, having completed a 1,300 bed hospital on nearby Banika Island on 26 March, had little time to work on the camp on Pavuvu before the Marines arrived. Typical of the Marines' bitterness was that of the officer who barged into General Smith's tent and shouted, "Great God! Who picked this dump? More like a hog lot than a rest camp."17
Instead of getting a chance to relax, the battle-weary Marines found themselves
turned to constructing a livable camp area. Disposing of the rotting coconuts alone took over a month; wells for drinking water had to be dug;18 and for weeks, the men were forced to live, work, and sleep in mud until they had laboriously bucket-hauled enough coral to surface the access roads and living area. Not surprisingly, the morale of the division hit an all-time low. The majority of the veterans had been in the Pacific for over two years, and their exertions in two strenuous jungle campaigns had sapped their reserves of energy. Alternately racked by malarial chills or burning up with its fever--which the tropical climate of Pavuvu did nothing to alleviate--weakened by poor rations, and rotten with a variety of fungus growths in various parts of their bodies, these Marines were both physically and mentally exhausted. The number answering sick call increased alarmingly, averaging "200 to 250 cases daily. . . . Hospitalization would not have been required in many of these cases had water, clean surroundings and clean clothing and of course good food been available to all units on the Island."19 Because of the Marines' weakened condition, their letdown following the recent tensions and stresses of combat, and the countless frustrations encountered on Pavuvu, they tended to behave in a manner that people back home might consider eccentric and to give credulity to wild rumors that ordinarily would have been laughed down.20
Adding to their woes, the food on Pavuvu, while adequate, was monotonous, unappetizing, and limited--for example, fresh meat appeared on the mess tables only once a week--the movies were usually second-run features or worse, and beer was limited to only a few cans a week.21 Contributing to the men's dissatisfaction with their lot was the widespread belief that service troops on Banika and Guadalcanal were eating and drinking much better than the combat-returned Marines. Welding these dispirited, malady -ridden, and exhausted men once again into a keenly-edged fighting team was the first task faced by the division's officers, who set about immediately preparing the Marines physically and
psychologically for their role in the forthcoming assault. Training, however, had to be conducted under the severe limitations of space, equipment shortages, and the detailing of men and equipment for the construction of camp facilities. In addition, the division experienced an influx of some 260 officers and 4,600 enlisted men replacing those Marines being rotated home. All of the newcomers had to be broken in on their new jobs for the imminent battle.
The amount of terrain on Pavuvu suitable for training purposes proved to be small even for a platoon to maneuver about, let alone a whole division. As a result, Marines on field problems found themselves slipping between the tents and messhalls of their bivouac area.22 With large-scale maneuvers out of the question, the only recourse was to place a much greater emphasis upon small unit exercises, practicing with rifles, automatic weapons, grenades, bazookas, and portable flamethrowers. Meticulous attention was paid to the details of each unit's proposed scheme of maneuver ashore at the target. Over and over again, the movements of the scheme were rehearsed until each rifleman, specialist, and leader knew exactly where he was to be and what he was to do throughout the different phases of the assault.
Stressed also was instruction in close-in fighting with the bayonet, knife, club, hip-level snap shooting, and judo. The use of hikes, excellent in hardening men for the rigors of combat, was handicapped by the lack of space; the marching units kept bumping into each other.
Unfortunately, practical experience in tank-infantry coordination, destined to be of inestimable value in the coming battle, was limited to one day for each rifle regiment. Each squad, however, did actually coach the movements and firing of a tank by visual signals and the external telephone in the rear of the tank.
Wherever suitable terrain could be found, firing ranges and combat areas were set up, and their use was rigidly controlled by a tight scheduling. In the combat areas, platoon-sized groups employed flamethrowers, bazookas, demolitions, antitank guns, machine guns, and rifles while practicing simulated assaults against log bunkers. On the infiltration course, Marines negotiated barbed wire and other obstacles, while live ammunition forced them to keep down, Other subjects covered were the techniques of night defense, chemical warfare, patrolling with war dogs, and coordination of fire teams using all organic weapons. The ground phase of, the training closed in the middle of August with combat firing by all units.
Even more difficult and nightmarish than the infantry's efforts were the attempts of the division's supporting arms to train with their bulkier equipment on Pavuvu. The 11th Marines rehearsed massing fires with time, impact, and ricochet bursts, but due to lack of space,
the artillery "was reduced to the pitiful expedient of firing into the water with the observers out in a boat or DUKW."23 Without room to maneuver, tank training had to stress gunnery, flamethrower operations, fording, night security, all-around defense, and textbook study of tactics. On the whole, organic support units spent the majority of their training period breaking in replacements, repairing battered equipment, and shaking down new vehicles.
During the division's training period, two newly developed weapons were received. The Navy Mark I flamethrower was capable of throwing a flame of blazing napalm24 to a distance of 150 yards and sustaining it for 80 seconds, Three of the flamethrowers were mounted on LVTs, while another LVT was equipped to serve as a supply carrier for the napalm mixture. Although slated for employment primarily against beach pillboxes during the assault landings, the new weapon was to prove its great value in reducing dug-in fortifications farther inland.
The other new weapon was the 60mm shoulder mortar, adapted to fire from a light machine gun mount and designed for flat trajectory fire against pillbox and cave openings. Some of its parts, however, proved too weak to stand the rough wear and tear of combat, and Marines who had to lug the weapon around complained of its heaviness. Even more serious was the recoil, which was so severe that the gunner had to be relieved after firing only two to four rounds. Since this new weapon's function duplicated that of the bazooka, which gave a good performance on coral-surfaced Peleliu, Marines were inclined to hold the shoulder mortar in less regard than the older and more familiar weapon.
Hindering the whole training schedule of the division, but especially the amphibious phases, were critical shortages of equipment. These embraced such a wide array of items that about the only things in adequate supply were the basic arms of the individual infantrymen. Shortages in armored amphibians, amphibian tractors, flamethrowers, demolitions, automatic weapons, bazookas, engineering equipment, and waterproofing material existed right up to the last stages of training, while final allotments in some categories arrived barely in time to be combat-loaded with the troops. In addition, some of the supplies furnished with the division were not of A-1 quality:
Belts of machine gun ammunition had rotted . . . powder rings on mortar ammunition were disintegrating and bourrelets rusted, shotgun shells swollen or, if brass, corroded. All ammunition had to be unstowed, inspected and in large part replaced and restowed at the last minute.25
To complicate matters further, the division had been ordered early in July to form two provisional amphibian tractor battalions, "utilizing personnel of the 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion, augmented by personnel from units of the
division."26 These Marine elements preparing for imminent combat, however, objected strenuously to parting with any of their skilled men, and often did not without a fight. In addition, those Marines reassigned to the amphibian tractor battalions had to be retrained in the operation of the unfamiliar equipment. Often, due to lack of time to practice, these inexperienced drivers would be performing on-the-job training with tractors filled with Marines practicing assault landings.
Further complications arose for the newly formed 3d Armored Amphibian Battalion (Provisional), because it was scheduled to receive the recently developed LVT(A), or armored amphibian tractor, which would form the initial assault wave at Peleliu and furnish fire support for the following troop waves. Lacking any of the new vehicles for demonstration purposes, the battalion's Marines, completely unfamiliar with the LVT(A) or its armament, were forced to rely solely upon blueprints for acquaintance with the tractor they would be handling in combat. Although the first delivery of the armored amphibians arrived early in August, difficulties still persisted. After feverishly practicing with the new vehicles, the crews were dumbfounded to find that the next shipments were of a later model, mounting 75mm howitzers instead of the 37mm's with which the crews had previously familiarized themselves. Approximately two-thirds of the battalion had to be retrained as a result.
"That the battalion should turn in an outstanding performance after such unpropitious beginnings might well rank as one of the minor miracles of the campaign."27 The man responsible for the battalion's good showing on the Peleliu beaches was Lieutenant Colonel Kimber H. Boyer. He "did one of the greatest training jobs I ever saw or heard of,"28 said a fellow officer. Although beset by overwhelming problems and forced to obtain his men in driblets from whatever source he could find, Lieutenant Colonel Boyer managed to train and shape his crews into a finely tuned combat team by the time of the assault. The commanding officer of the newly formed 6th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, Captain John I. Fitzgerald, Jr., "faced with almost the same problems and circumstances [as Boyer], performed as admirably."29
The amphibious training, not only of the amphibian battalions but also of the entire division, was retarded seriously by the insufficiency of amphibious vehicles and the lack of repair parts for them. Upon its arrival at Pavuvu, the division had only 48 of the 248 LVTs authorized for the Peleliu campaign. Of these 48, more than half were inoperative, awaiting vital parts. When the first shipment did arrive, there remained less than a month in which to prepare the vehicles, train the crews, and familiarize the several thousand assault troops in LVT ship-to-shore techniques.
As a result, the division was forced to substitute the DUKWs as personnel carriers and to use them in the amphibious
exercises with the infantry regiments. It was during such a landing drill that General Rupertus fell from an amphibian tractor and severely fractured his ankle, an injury that might have caused a less determined man to miss the Peleliu campaign. The amphibious trucks used by the infantry, however, had to be taken away from the artillery units, which had been practicing their own assault techniques of loading and unloading howitzers and radio jeeps in the LVTs and DUKWs. Consequently, the training time available to the 11th Marines was drastically reduced.
Training for the 1st Marine Division culminated in large-scale landing rehearsals at the Cape Esperance area on Guadalcanal. By this time, 27 and 29 August, the assault units were already embarked on board the vessels which would carry them to the target, and the warships scheduled to provide naval gunfire support for the operation were also on hand.
The first rehearsal was designed solely to test communications. After the new radio equipment, which had been rushed by air from Pearl Harbor to supply the division's minimum requirements, was accurately calibrated, the rehearsal went off smoothly. On the 29th, the naval guns and planes blasted at the beaches prior to the landing and continued deep supporting fires after the Marines debarked and moved inland. Spreading out, the assault units went through the motions of their assigned missions, and everything went off smoothly.
At a critique held the next day, and attended by all of the ranking commanders of both naval and ground forces, not a single serious criticism was raised; in fact, nothing in the way of constructive revisions was even discussed. The two practice landings, however, had served their purpose of familiarizing the troops with their debarkation and transfer stations, snapping in the new crews of the amphibian vehicles, coordinating the preliminary gunfire and bombardment plans, and ironing out any possible kinks in the complicated ship-to-shore maneuver, which depended upon split-second timing and scheduling for success.
On 3 September, a shore party exercise was held at Tetere Beach on Guadalcanal, but no supplies were unloaded. The next landing performed by Marines of the division would be over Peleliu's coral reef and onto the enemy-held beaches.
Despite its frustrations with Pavuvu's shortcomings, the equipment shortages, and the training difficulties, the 1st Marine Division had done an admirable job of fusing the new replacements with the older veterans of Guadalcanal and Cape Gloucester into a recharged, combat-ready fighting unit. When the 1st Division's Marines stormed ashore at Peleliu, they were once again a topnotch assault outfit.
MOUNTING THE ATTACK30The logistical problem confronting the 1st Marine Division in mounting out from Pavuvu for the Peleliu campaign and the many heartbreaking difficulties
encountered in solving it cannot be overemphasized. What the situation would have been if the division had not been lifted by an experienced transport group is hard to imagine, because the loading of the naval vessels had to be closely coordinated with the final plans for the beach assault.
Fortunately, the transport group commander, his staff, and the vessels' crews were veterans in complicated ship-to-shore movements and experts in working with Marines to solve related problems. The group staff, according to one Marine officer:
. . . worked in the closest liaison, not only with the Division's Operations and Planning Officers, but with the commanders and staff officers of subordinate units, together with the Navy Control Officers designated for each beach. The consolidated scheme was a product of close and effective joint planning.31
The embarkation warning order reached the Marine division on 5 August, only 10 days before the actual assault loading was to begin. Planning by staff officers started immediately but, without any idea of the number, type, or characteristics of the allotted ships, only the most general plans could be made. Although the transport group commander and his staff arrived at Pavuvu on 10 August, the necessary, detailed information was not obtained until two days later. Even after the ships finally appeared, it was discovered that several had reserved holds for ship's stores or carried extra equipment which was not shown on the ship's characteristics. As a result, confusion and misunderstanding marked the loading arrangements of the division, causing numerous changes, compromises, and improvisations right up until the last.
To complicate the Marines' logistic problem even further, loading operations would have to be conducted at the widely separated staging areas of Pavuvu, Banika, Guadalcanal, and Tulagi, as well as in the New Hebrides, where the transports would pick up the ground echelons and equipment of the Marine air units slated to be based on the Peleliu airfield as soon as it was seized and operative. If the principle of combat loading was to be adhered to, a prodigious amount of load planning and close coordination of ships' routes would be necessary to prevent wasted effort or back-tracking. Compounding the difficulties were the limits to dockage and lighterage at certain of these staging areas, which necessitated a tight scheduling of the ships' movements to forestall any needless delays.
The first units of the LST flotilla assembled from scattered Pacific bases, arrived off Pavuvu on 11 August, and the Marine division began loading the next day. Since the flotilla commander, Captain Armand Robertson, had been too busy readying his ships for sea to come to Pavuvu during the planning phase, the Marines had requested him to delegate a liaison officer with the authority to make decisions in his name, but none was ever furnished. Admiral Fort, who was Captain Robertson's superior, held daily conferences with the Marines on Pavuvu after 8 August, thus to some extent offsetting the gap created by the absence of a liaison officer,
Nevertheless, shortly after his arrival, Captain Robertson ordered the loading plans for eight LSTs to be changed. The Marines knew from past experience that understowing33 was indispensable in keeping within allotted load limits and yet lifting all the required tonnage. It was only with the greatest reluctance, however, that the flotilla commander permitted his LSTs to be so loaded.
Even after the Marines were finally embarked, they discovered to their amazement that certain vessels transporting two regiments would be in launching areas different from those planned by the division. If not rectified, this drastic change would force the amphibians and craft, carrying the 5th and 7th Marines ashore, to crisscross in order to get these regiments to the proper beaches. Such a maneuver, difficult to execute and contrary to the accepted doctrine for ship-to-shore procedures, could not be tolerated and, as a result, troops already embarked on board nine vessels had to be shifted.
Actually, the last of the LST flotilla did not put in an appearance at Pavuvu until 25 August, at which time the troops were already embarked on board the transports in preparation for their final training rehearsals. In spite of all these last-minute complications, however, the 30 LSTs, 17 transports, and 2 LSDs allotted to the division for the Peleliu operation were fully combat-loaded by 31 August.
After their final landing exercises at Guadalcanal, the Marines had a chance to go ashore before departing for the Peleliu assault. These last few days were spent in conditioning hikes, small-unit maneuvers, and recreation. The other assault unit of the IIIAC, the 81st Infantry Division, meanwhile, had mounted out in Hawaii and rendezvoused off Guadalcanal for its final rehearsals and movement to the target.
Unlike the Marine division with its two major campaigns under its belt, the newly activated Army division was still untested in battle. Neither during their training nor mounting out had the soldiers endured any of the difficulties experienced by the Marines on Pavuvu. According to the 81st's history, "the loading worked out well," and after "its long stateside training, its intensive refresher courses, the rehearsal, and the relaxation in the [Hawaiian] Islands, the Division was a bronzed, tough crew, ready for action."33
On 4 September, LSTs carrying the initial assault elements of both the 1st Division and the 81st lifted anchor and departed with their naval escort ships for the Palaus. Four days later, the faster-moving transports and LSDs followed with their screening forces. The two convoys were expected to rendezvous in the target area early on D-Day. Prior to the departure of the transport echelon, the Peleliu Fire Support Unit and Escort Carrier Group had left in order to arrive at the target on 12 September to begin the bombardment and bombing of the objective, as well as to
start the underwater demolition of artificial obstacles.
The approach route lay northwestward through the Solomons and then along a course generally parallel to the northern coast of New Guinea. For the embarked troops, the 2,100-mile trip over smooth seas was uneventful, the monotony being broken only by the periodic antiaircraft exercises which used the naval planes flying from the escort carriers as tracking targets. On 14 September, D minus 1, the transports made contact with the slower-moving LSTs, and they proceeded together to their respective stations off the Palaus.
On the same day, the Marine troop commanders and the civilian news correspondents opened General Rupertus' sealed letter, which had been given to each of them just prior to the departure from Guadalcanal with instructions not to open it until D minus 1. Apparently, the division's commanding general had not consulted with anyone, "with the possible exception of"34 his chief of staff, before issuing the letter. In it, Rupertus expressed his opinion that the fighting on Peleliu would be extremely tough but short, lasting not more than four days. This viewpoint, according to the official Marine Corps monograph on the campaign was:
. . . perhaps the most striking manifestation of that preoccupation with speedy conquest at the highest division level which was to color tactical thinking ashore for a month to follow.35
MARINE AIR PREPARES36Since the Western Carolines lay too far distant from any Allied base for land-based aircraft to provide cover during STALEMATE II, naval planes operating off carriers would furnish the needed air support until such time as the airfield on Peleliu had been captured and readied for use by American aviation units. Destined to be the major component of this garrison air force was the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing (2d MAW) which, in mid-1944, was located in the Solomons and functioned primarily
as a training command for squadrons flying combat missions in more active zones. Assignment to the wing, whose headquarters was on Efate Island in the New Hebrides, meant that a squadron's pilots could receive additional training as well as enjoy a welcome break from the rigors of daily flights over enemy-held territory, before returning to combat.
The 2d Wing first suspected it was slated for a more active war role when it received a dispatch on 14 June ordering it to become an "independent and self sustaining unit"37 as rapidly as possible. Eleven days later, the wing was directed to move to Espiritu Santo Island, a staging area farther north in the same island chain, for possible deployment to an active combat zone.
A forward echelon moved to the new base to pave the way for the rest of the command, and the 2d MAW officially began operating from there on 3 July. During the remainder of the month, the wing busied itself with completing the move, bringing itself up to authorized strength, gathering and readying its own lower echelons, and streamlining its staff organization for efficient functioning under any possible combat contingency.
This tailoring of the air unit to fit the requirement of its assigned mission resulted in the 2d MAW reverting back to a one-group wing. Only the month previously, it had been brought up to a two-group wing in anticipation of an active combat role. Since Marine Aircraft Group 11 (MAG-11) was expected to furnish sufficient tactical air support for STALEMATE II once it was based on the captured and repaired Peleliu airfield, the unneeded MAG-25 was detached from the 2d MAW on 25 July.38
In preparation for basing on Peleliu, MAG-11 was authorized a new provisional table of organization on 26 July. All elements, except group and squadron headquarters, and operations and intelligence sections, were to be transferred to the service squadron, which would then be placed under the operational control of the Air Base Commander, a subordinate of the Island Commander. Although these changes made the service squadron large and unwieldy, besides complicating the command structure, this arrangement was to remain in effect throughout the Palau campaign.
Earlier, on 6 July, the 2d MAW had lost its commander, when CinCPOA summoned Brigadier General Harold D. Campbell to Pearl Harbor to organize a headquarters for his forthcoming role as Island Commander, Peleliu. This joint Army-Navy-Marine Corps command, known as the Third Island Base Headquarters until 16 November 1944, was to have the mission of defending the captured base from all possible enemy attacks and improving the island's facilities in accordance with the base development plan.
No sooner had the new wing commander, Major General James T. Moore, assumed command, than a dispatch from Admiral Nimitz on 9 July designated
the Marine officer as Commander Garrison Air Force, Western Carolines. As was common in the intricate amphibious air-sea-land operations of the Pacific war, General Moore was to head a staff composed of Army, Navy, and Marine Corps officers whose mission was to "defend the Western Carolines area by employing in mutual support against hostile air threats all air defense units based in that area.39 Once his squadrons began operating from the captured Peleliu airfield, the Marine general would have three major tasks: defending all ground troops and convoys in the western Carolines from enemy air attacks, providing close air support for the infantry units still fighting on Peleliu, and neutralizing the remaining enemy bases in the Western Carolines.
Although still the 2d Wing's commander, General Moore found it necessary to locate at Pearl Harbor near the headquarters of Marine Aircraft Wings, Pacific, because the planning and organizing of his new command necessitated frequent conferences with the staffs of higher and subordinate echelons. Finally, on 22 August, the Marine general flew to Espiritu Santo and assumed personal command of the wing during final preparations for the Peleliu campaign.
Scheduled to land with the assault units at Peleliu were the ground echelons of Marine Fighter Squadron 114 (VMF-114), VMF-121, VMF-122, and Marine Night Fighter Squadron 541 (VMF(N)-541) of MAG-11. Their flight echelons were to remain at Espiritu until such time as they could be flown by stages to the repaired and operative airfield. As soon as possible, other units of MAG-11 would be flown in, to be followed later by wing headquarters.
With combat imminent, the group's squadrons underwent intensified training.40 The typical day's flight schedule was designed to improve the skills and abilities of the pilots, as well as to determine the condition of the aircraft and equipment. The final weeks prior to mounting out found the fighter squadrons stressing dive and glide bombing exercises, for which their assigned aircraft, the F4U (Corsair), was admirably suited. In addition to this increased emphasis upon tactics which could be used in close support of ground troops, the basics of squadron air work were practiced in instruments, intercepts, and division tactics.
The Marine air units, not unlike the ground troops, were experiencing their own difficulties with shortages, as MAG-11 reported:
The first major difficulty encountered was in obtaining the proper quantities and types of aviation ordnance. Allowances were specifically laid down by ComAirPac [Commander Air Forces, Pacific Fleet] who then made ComSoPac [Commander, South Pacific] responsible for their delivery. ComSoPac passed this task to the 16th Field Depot, a Marine unit, at Guadalcanal. Due to shortages, lack of knowledge of aviation ordnance and lack of belting equipment, the specified allowances were never obtained. The Group went on the operation short of certain bombs, fuses,
etc., and had to take all unbelted ammunition. Belting and handling a million and a quarter rounds of .50 caliber ammunition was done after landing and proved to be a major problem.41
Since the Peleliu landing would be the first time that ground echelons of Marine squadrons would accompany the assault troops ashore, the aviators preparing for their role in STALEMATE II found themselves confronted by some unique problems. The question of the composition of the parties to accompany the general assault units and the amount and type of gear the parties should take with them was a difficult one to resolve, according to MAG-11, which noted:
At present, there is no table of allowances which prescribes the kind and amount of aviation materiel, Marine Corps equipment, transportation and personnel against enemy air attacks during the that should be taken in with the assault echelons. As a result of this, every Group Squadron Commander had to make his decision in the matter, with the result that the amount and kind of material and of personnel taken in during the early stages of an operation varies greatly.42
Adding to the Marine aviators' woes was the fact that, because shipping space was at a premium, equipment had be reduced to the barest necessities. Liaison officers had been sent to Pavuvu for coordination of loading plans with the 1st Marine Division, but the limitation of space on the ships transporting the assault elements and the staging of STALEMATE II at five widely separated points complicated the situation. The S.S. Mormacport, for example, after loading the ground echelons and equipment of MAG-11 and Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadron 134 (VMTB-134) in the New Hebrides, would stop at the Russells and embark another task force unit "on top of the Group and squadron gear."43 As a result VMTB 134 would be flying antisubmarine patrols long before its equipment or spare parts were ashore at Peleliu
The newly organized VMF(N)-541, which arrived at the Espiritu Santo staging area from the United States just in time for its ground echelons to be loaded on board the assault ships, had its own unique problem. Commissioned 15 February 1944 at Cherry Point, North Carolina, this night fighter squadron had been equipped and trained for its mission of providing protection against enemy air attacks during the hours of darkness. Its assigned aircraft, a modified version of the Navy's standard fighter, the F6F (Hellcat) contained very complicated precision radar to aid in the night interception of enemy bombers. Although excellent in operating aspects and accurate at times for distances up to 60 miles, this radar required a great deal of maintenance to keep it in acceptable working condition.
The misfortunes of VMF (N)-541 began when it travelled some 10,000 miles from its staging area at Cherry Point and continued until its planes touched down on the repaired Peleliu airfield. At no time in this two-month period was there ever any testing or maintenance of the delicate radar equipment installed in the Hellcats, even though the flight echelon had flown over 5,000 miles. The
not unexpected result was that "every one required almost a major overhaul at a time when top performance was required.44
Loading out at Espiritu Santo began 25 August, when the ground echelons of VMF-114, VMF-121, VMF-122, and VMF(N)-541 went on board the USS Tryon and Centaurus. These vessels sailed on the 25th and 27th, respectively, to rendezvous with the main naval task force at Guadalcanal. On 30 August, the ground echelons of VMTB-134 and the Headquarters and Service Squadrons of MAG-11 embarked in the S.S. Mormacport for their journey to Peleliu. Remaining behind at Espiritu Santo were the flight echelons and the rear echelon which would service the aircraft prior to departure for the Palaus and supervise the loading of the remaining gear.
SOFTENING THE ENEMY'S DEFENSES45Owing to the detailed planning by SWPA and CinCPOA air liaison officers, STALEMATE II's plans called for meshed air support missions by both carrier- and land-based aircraft embracing the period prior to, during, and after the amphibious landing. As early as March 1944, the Palaus had been struck by fast carrier forces of the Fifth Fleet, and further carrier-based attacks were again launched during July and August. SWPA's long-range planes, meanwhile, had flown reconnaissance and bombing runs over the target area and, in August, the Fifth Air Force's B-24s (Liberators) began a concentrated effort to knock out enemy defenses throughout the island chain.
A series of night flights from 8 August through 14 September dumped 91.2 tons of fragmentation, demolition, and incendiary bombs over the Palaus and, beginning 25 August, the heavy bombers braved Japanese fighters and heavy antiaircraft fire to make daylight bombing runs over the objective. In a total of 394 sorties, the Liberators dumped 793.6 tons of high explosives on the enemy defenses. In Koror Town alone, some 507 buildings were completely demolished, and major Japanese installations throughout the island chain were destroyed. By 5 September, photo reconnaissance revealed on 12 Japanese fighters, 12 floatplanes, and 3 observation aircraft still based in the Palaus. the enemy's airstrips, moreover, were badly cratered, and only the most extensive repairs would ever make them fully operative again.
Although the Palaus were beyond the range of CinCPOA's shore-based planes, other Japanese-held islands in the Carolines were not. Yap, Woleai, and Truk, for example, were hit repeatedly by naval bombers operating from recently captured Allied bases, while the Liberators
of SWPA flew coordinated, reinforcing strikes against the same objectives. In addition, the B-24s struck at enemy airdromes on Celebes and in the southern Philippines in preparation for the later-scheduled carrier strikes by the Third Fleet.
To prevent confusion and to coordinate strategic air support missions, the heavy bombers of SWPA were to shift to night bombing runs as soon as American carriers began operations in the vicinity of the Palaus. In late August, one group of Admiral Mitscher's fast carriers made a diversionary raid against the enemy-held Volcano-Benin Islands, while the other three proceeded to the Palaus and initiated a three-day aerial bombardment with a fighter sweep on the afternoon of 6 September. During the next two days, as the warplanes ranged over the islands, bombing and strafing, the cruisers and destroyers of the covering screen blasted away at the Japanese defenses ashore. These fast carrier groups then continued on to their additional mission of interdictory strikes against the enemy airbases in the southern Philippines.
After completing its diversionary raid in the Volcano-Bonins, the remaining fast carrier group struck at Yap and, on 10 September, its planes hit the Palaus. Notwithstanding the target's previous bombardment by both aircraft and warships, the naval pilots could lament that so many Japanese antiaircraft batteries were still active that "Much time and many bombs were expended before return fire was sufficiently reduced to let us get down low for close observation and detection of small but important enemy positions, bivouac areas, etc."46 This carrier group remained near the Palaus, for it was scheduled to augment the striking power of the escort carriers during the prelanding bombardment and to provide additional firepower on D-Day, if needed.
Land-based planes of both the Southwest and Central Pacific commands, meanwhile, flew search and reconnaissance missions screening the approach to the target by transports and support ships of the Western Attack Force. The pilots, flying daylight patrols some 50 to 100 miles in advance of the main naval forces, had orders to attack and destroy any enemy planes encountered.
A unique addition to the screening forces was the Submarine Offensive Reconnaissance Group, which was utilized by Halsey during the Palau operation only. Composed of three wolf packs of three submarines each, the group was strung out in attack formation over a 300-mile front. The submarines, upon sighting any enemy forces, were to radio a warning of danger to the Western Attack Force and then attack to inflict the maximum damage, In addition, they were to provide rescue service for downed aviators and furnish on-the-spot weather information.
Before dawn on 12 September, the first echelon of the Escort Carrier Group and the warships of the Fire Support Group were off Peleliu ready to begin preliminary bombardment operations. The four escort carriers, soon to be
joined by another six, had the task of safeguarding the approach of the Western Attack Force to the target, assisting in the softening up of the island's defenses prior to the landing, and providing close air support once the Marines were ashore on Peleliu. In addition, four seaplane tenders were to arrive in Kossol Passage one day before the landing and, after their squadrons had joined them, were to provide air-sea rescue and lifeguard, weather, and reconnaissance missions.
The activity of all planes in the target area was closely coordinated with the naval gunfire and minesweeping operations by Admiral Wilkinson's Commander Support Aircraft. Control of the close fire support furnished to the infantry would be handled by the Joint Assault Signal Company (JASCO) teams. Each Marine battalion was assigned such a team, consisting of a naval gunfire officer, an aviation liaison officer, and a shore party officer, with the required communications personnel and equipment. Once ashore, the battalion commander had only to turn to an officer at his side and heavy guns firing shells up to 16-inch or planes capable of bombing, strafing, or launching rockets were at his disposal. The Commander, Support Aircraft, could, at his discretion, relinquish control of all planes in the area to the ground commander once the expeditionary troops were firmly established on the beachhead.
First to venture in close to the target were the vessels of the Kossol Passage Detachment, which began minesweeping operations along the approaches to the designated transport and fire support areas. Later, these minesweepers would clear the Kossol Passage, which would be utilized as a roadstead where ships might await call to Peleliu for unloading and in which replenishment of fuel, stores, and ammunition could be accomplished.
At 0530 on the 12th, the large caliber guns of Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf's Fire Support Group, consisting of 5 old battleships, 4 heavy cruisers, 4 light cruisers, and 14 destroyers, began blasting away at Peleliu's defenses. For two hours, the warships steamed in a zigzag pattern off the island and fired at preselected targets. When this naval barrage ceased temporarily, carrier planes appeared over Peleliu's interior and began flying strikes against the defenses there. Following this two-hour aerial bombardment, the heavy naval guns resumed their deliberate fire. This alternating of naval gunfire and aerial bombardment was the procedure followed during the three days prior to the assault. During this time, the warships expended some 519 rounds of 16-inch shells, 1,845 rounds of 14-inch, 1,427 rounds of 8-inch, 1,020 rounds of 6-inch, and 12,937 rounds of 5-inch, for a total of 2,255 tons of ammunition.
Special UDTs, meanwhile, had been landed on the reef, where they began their important tasks of removing underwater obstacles, blasting ramps for LSTs and pathways for DUKWs in the coral, clearing boulders from roadways, and placing buoys and markers. Clad only in swimming trunks, these underwater experts were constantly fired at by Japanese with rifles and machine guns during the dangerous process of destroying the underwater obstructions,
which an American admiral described as "the most formidable which we encountered in the entire Pacific."47
Originally, the gunfire support plan called for only two days of preparatory bombardment prior to D-Day, but the strong protests of General Geiger had persuaded Admiral Wilkinson to add another day. This extra time, however, did not mean that a larger number of shells were fired; instead, the extra day merely allowed the same amount of ammunition to be expended with greater deliberation over a longer period of time. Since the Japanese had skillfully camouflaged their artillery positions and refused to be goaded into returning fire, Admiral Oldendorf was of the opinion that the "best that can be done is to blast away at suspected positions and hope for the best."48 As a result, he ended the bombardment early, explaining that all targets on Peleliu worthy of naval gunfire had been destroyed.
Although the awesome weight, explosive power, and armor-piercing quality of the shells expended had transformed Peleliu's exterior "into a barren wasteland,"49 neither the enemy nor his prepared defenses had been obliterated. Artillery had been hidden carefully in underground caves, some of which had steel doors to protect their interiors, while the troops had been placed in sheltered areas, from which they could emerge, unscathed and combat-ready, after the American barrage lifted. Frustrating as it was for one Japanese soldier in a machine cannon company to remain huddled in his shelter while the warships shelled Peleliu with impunity--the sight so infuriated him that he "could feel the blood pounding in my veins throughout my body"50--the fact remains that only one man in his outfit was injured by the prelanding bombardment, and then only slightly. As Oldendorf later admitted, "My surprise and chagrin when concealed batteries opened Up on the LVTs can be imagined."51 In addition, one huge Japanese blockhouse, which the assaulting Marines confidently believed would be demolished since it was pinpointed on their maps, was later found to have escaped damage completely from any of the naval shells.52
Oldendorf's decision to break off fire has been described as being "entirely correct," by Admiral Fort, who was present at the bombardment of Peleliu. The "idea which some people seem to have of just firing at an island is," said the admiral, "an inexcusable waste of ammunition."53 Colonel William H. Harrison,
commanding the 11th Marines at Peleliu, held somewhat similar views, for he doubted "whether 10 times the gunfire would have helped."54
Among the Marines actually storming the shelled and bombed beaches at Peleliu and assaulting the still intact Japanese defenses and fortifications, however, there grew a belief, verging later on a feeling of bitterness, that the preparatory naval gunfire left something to be desired. After the war, this belief was shared by two historians of amphibious warfare, Isely and Crowl, who wrote. that:
. . . the conclusion cannot be avoided that preliminary naval gunfire on Peleliu was inadequate, and that the lessons learned at Guam were overlooked. . . . Peleliu, like Tarawa and to a lesser extent Saipan, demonstrated that the only substitute for such prolonged bombardment was costly expenditure of the lives of the assault troops.55
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (III-1) * Next Chapter (III-3)
1. Unless otherwise noted, the information for this chapter has been derived from: ComWesPac TF OPlan No. 14-44, dtd 1Aug44; ThirdFlt AR; III PhibFor STALEMATE II Rpt; TF 31 OPlan A302-44, dtd 4Aug44; ExTrps SAR; ExTrps OPlan No. 1-44, dtd 9Jul44; TF 32 Rpt of Amph Op to Capture Peleliu and Angaur, dtd 160ct44, hereafter TF 32 Peleliu and Angaur Rpt; TF 32 OPlan A501-44, dtd 15Aug44; IIIAC Palaus Rpt; 1st MarDiv SAR; 1st MarDiv WarDs, Jun-Sep44, hereafter 1st MarDiv WarD, with appropriate date; 1st MarDiv OPlan 1-44, dtd 15Aug44; Peleliu Comment File; Smith, Narrative; Hough, Assault on Peleliu; George McMillan, The Old Breed: A History of the First Marine Division in World War II (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1949), hereafter McMillan, The Old Breed; Sherrod, Marine Corps Aviation in World War II; Isely and Crowl, U.S. Marines and Amphibious War; Morison, Leyte; Smith, Approach to the Philippines; Craven and Cate, The Pacific; The 81st Wildcat Division Historical Committee, The 81st Infantry Wildcat Division in World War II (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1948), hereafter Historical Committee, 81st Infantry Division.
2. Additional sources used for this section are: WesLandFor, STALEMATE II, OPlan No. 1-44, dtd 23Jul44; 7th Mar OPlan No. 1-44, dtd 1Aug44; Theodore Roscoe, United States Submarine Operations in World War II (Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute, 1949), hereafter Roscoe, Submarine; Cdr Francis Douglas Fane, USNR, and Don Moore, The Naked Warriors (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1956), hereafter Fane and Moore, The Naked Warriors.
3. "The 1st Marine Division, while experienced in other amphibious operations, had not previously landed over a coral reef. They were short of amtracs and very deficient in mine detection and disposal." Vice Admiral George H. Fort, USN (Ret) ltr to Head, HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC dtd 18May66 in Peleliu Comment File, hereafter Fort ltr.
4. LtGen Julian C. Smith intvw by Maj Frank O. Hough, dtd 23Nov49, as cited in Hough, Assault on Peleliu, p. 11. In rebuttal of the above, the Naval Histories Division has commented: "We are unable to locate documentation in our records supporting General Smith's statement that the Navy proposed to seize Angaur prior to Peleliu." Eller ltr.
5. See McMillan, The Old Breed, p. 262, and Fletcher Pratt, The Marines' War: An Account of the Struggle for the Pacific from Both American and Japanese Sources (New York: William Sloane Associates, Inc., 1948), p. 345, hereafter Pratt, The Marines' War.
6. BGen Walter A. Wachtler ltr to CMC, dtd 1Mar50, in Peleliu Comment File, hereafter Wachtler ltr.
7. Additional sources used for this section are: ExTrps AdminO No. 1-44, dtd 22Jul44; 1st MarDiv AdminO No. 1-44, dtd 7Aug44; USAForMidPac and Predecessor Commands during World War II, 7Dec41-2Sep45, History of G-4 Section, n.d., hereafter USAFor MidPac G-4 Hist; Carter, Beans, Bullets, and Black Oil; Kenneth W. Condit, Gerald Diamond, and Edwin T. Turnbladh, Marine Corps Ground Training in World War II (Washington: HistBr, G-3, HQMC, 1956), hereafter Condit, Diamond, and Turnbladh, Marine Corps Ground Training.
8. USAFor MidPac G-4 Hist, p. 408.
9. 1st MarDiv SAR, Part III to Anx C, lists the number of rounds in the CinCPOA unit of fire for the various weapons in the Marine division. The unit of fire for the M-1 rifle, for example was 100 rounds; .30 caliber carbine, 45; .45 caliber pistol, 14; .30 caliber machine gun, 1,500; .50 caliber machine gun, 600; 60mm and 81mm mortars, 100; 105mm howitzers, 200; 155mm howitzers, 145; and 155mm gun, 100.
10. By combat loading is meant the method of embarking troops and loading their equipment and supplies in such a manner that they can be rapidly unloaded at the objective in the desired priority for sustaining the attack,
11. Capt George E. Jerue Itr to CMC, dtd 2Mar50, in Peleliu Comment File.
12. The pallet, an Army innovation first used in the MarshalIs, was simply a sled, four by six feet, with wooden runners, which could be loaded to a height of about three feet and with a weight of approximately 3,000 pounds, the load being fastened securely on the pallet by means of flat metal strappings.
13. Col John Kaluf ltr to CMC, dtd 7Mar50, in Peleliu Comment File, hereafter Kaluf ltr.
14. LtCol Arthur J. Stuart ltr to CMC, dtd 25Apr50, in Peleliu Comment File, hereafter Stuart ltr.
15. Maj Robert B. McBroom ltr to CMC, dtd 13Mar50, in Peleliu Comment File.
16. Additional sources used for this section are: History of the 1st Marine Regiment, 26Aug-10Oct44, n.d., hereafter 1stMar Hist; LtCol Kimber H. Boyer, USMC, "Formation and Employment of an Armored Amphibian Battalion, Palau Operation, 15 September 1944-20 October 1944: A Study of the Use of Special Equipment," (Quantico, Va.: Marine Corps Schools, Amphibious Warfare School, Senior Course 1946-1947), hereafter Boyer, Armd AmphibianBn; Condit, Diamond, and Turnbladh, Marine Corps Ground Training.
17. Burke Davis, Marine! The Life of LtGen Lewis B. (Chesty) Puller, USMC (Ret}, (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1962), p. 202, hereafter Davis, Marine!, used with permission.
18. ". . . and when that water was reached, it was the most god-awful stuff you can imagine. Its unique flavor was not enhanced by the rotting coconuts which had seeped through the coral-streaked mud to the water supply and one was forced to spike it with the lemonade component of K-rations which, in itself, was more like battery acid and more suitable for burnishing canteen cups and mess gear than for drinking." Mr. Benis M. Frank comments on draft MS, dtd 29Mar63.
19. Cdr Emil E. Napp Itr to CMC, dtd 9Mar50, in Peleliu Comment File.
20. "Less eccentric by Pavuvu standards was the man who ran out of his tent at dusk and began to pound his fists against a coconut tree, sobbing angrily: "'I hate you, goddammit, I hate you !' 'Hit it once for me', came a cry from a nearby tent, the only comment that was made then or later by the man's buddies." McMillan, The Old Breed, p. 231.
21. "The only USO show to reach this miserable hole was not scheduled to come at all; it arrived only by dint of the personal efforts of Bob Hope and at considerable inconvenience to his troupe, who managed to sandwich in a morning performance between rear echelon engagements shortly before the division shoved off for Peleliu." Hough, Assault on Peleliu, p. 27.
22. One story, perhaps apocryphal, has it that "one Saturday morning a battalion of the Fifth Marines was holding inspection while a battalion of the First Marines was conducting a field problem. The result was that during the inspection, fire groups of the latter were infiltrating through the statue-like ranks of the former." Maj Robert W. Burnette ltr to CMC, dtd 9Mar49, in Peleliu Comment File.
23. LtCol Leonard F. Chapman, Jr., ltr to CMC, dtd 9Mar50, in Peleliu Comment File.
24. The gelled fuel resulting from combining napalm powder with gasoline for use in incendiary bombs and flamethrowers,
25. LtCol Spencer S. Berger Itr to CMC, dtd 19Mar50, in Peleliu Comment File, hereafter Berger ltr.
26. 1st MarDiv SAR, Phase 1, p. 5.
27. Hough, Assault on Peleliu, p. 31.
28. LtCol Joseph E. Buckley Itr to CMC, dtd 10Mar50, in Peleliu Comment File.
29. Maj Robert F. Reutlinger ltr to CMC, dtd 10Mar50, in Peleliu Comment File, hereafter Reutlinger ltr.
30. Additional sources used for this section are: TF 32 MovO No. A503-44, dtd 20Aug44; ComLSTFlot 13 Trng MovO No. 3-44, dtd 24Aug44; 1st MarDiv AdminO No. 1-44, dtd 7Aug44.
31. Col Harold O. Deakin Itr to CMC, dtd 10Mar50, in Peleliu Comment File.
32. Understowing consisted simply of the loading of the tank deck of an LST with flat or well-packaged cargo, such as rations, barbed wire, or ammunition, next covering the whole with a layer of dunnage, and then storing LVTs on top of the dunnage.
33. Historical Committee, 81st Infantry Division, pp. 45, 59.
34. LtCol William E. Benedict ltr to CMC, dtd 27Feb50, in Peleliu Comment File.
35. Hough, Assault on Peleliu, p. 35. "Most officers believed this unusual document [was] intended in the nature of a pep talk. This was not its effect on news correspondents, however: many of the 36 accredited to the division did not come ashore at all, and only six (one of whom was killed) chose to stay through the critical early phases. Hence, news coverage of the operation was sketchy, often misleading, and, when quick conquest failed to materialize, tinged with biting criticism." Ibid.
36. Additional sources used for this section are: Garrison AF Western Carolines WarDs, 30May-Sep44, n.d., hereafter Garrison AF WarD, with appropriate date; Island Comd, Peleliu WarDs, Jul-Sep44, hereafter Peleliu Island Comd WarD, with appropriate date; 2d MAW WarDs, June-Sep44, hereafter 2d MAW WarD, with appropriate date; 2d MAW UHist, 7Dec41-20Feb46, dtd 12Mar46, hereafter 2d MAW UHist; HqSq-2, 2d MAW WarD, Jul-Sep44, hereafter HqSq-2, 2d MAW WarD, with appropriate date; MAG-11 WarD, Jun-Sep44, hereafter MAG-11 WarD, with appropriate date; MAG-11 UHist, 1Aug41-lJu144, dtd 19Jun45, hereafter MAG-11 UHist; MAG-11 Rpt on Palau Ops with 4th MAW comments, dtd 22Dec44, hereafter MAG-11 Palau Rpt; VMF-114 WarD, Jun-Sep44, hereafter VMF-114 WarD, with appropriate date; VMF-114 UHist, 1Ju143-l1Jan45, dtd 10May45, hereafter VMF-114 UHist; VMF(N)-541 WarD, Jun-Sep44, hereafter VMF(N)-541 WarD, with appropriate date; VMF(N)-541 UHist, 15Feb44-30Apr46, dtd 30Apr46, hereafter VMF(N)-541 UHist.
37. 2dMAW WarD, Jun44, p. 1.
38. The 2d MAW became a two-group wing again on 8 October 1944, the date that Marine Base Defense Air Group 45 (redesignated MAG-45 on 15 November) arrived at Ulithi Atoll.
39. Garrison AF WarD, 30May-30 Sep44, p. 3.
40. During July and August, training accidents resulted in 2 pilots killed, 1 missing, 1 wounded, and 4 aircraft lost.
41. MAG-11 Palau Rpt, p. 1.
42. MAG-11 Palau Rpt, 1st End, p. 1.
43. MAG-11 Palau Rpt, p. 2.
44. VMF(N)-541 Rpt (Night Fighter Squadron, plane, personnel, and material requirements), dtd 25Nov44, hereafter VMF(N)-541 Rpt.
45. Additional sources used for this section are: TG 38.8 OpO No. 1-44, dtd 25Aug44; TF 32 MovO No. A503-44, dtd 20Aug44; TG 32.1 AtkO No. A502-44, dtd 20Aug44; TG 32.15 AtkO No. 8-44, dtd 30Aug44; TU 32.7.1 OpO No. 1-44, dtd 5Sep44; VMF-314 Rpt of Observers aboard Aircraft Carriers during STALEMATE, dtd 17Nov44, hereafter VMF-314 Rpt of Observers; Fane and Moore, The Naked Warriors; Roscoe, Submarine.
46. Air IntelGru, CNO, "Comments on 'softening up' strikes in preparation for landing operations, taken from the report of R.L. Kibbe, Cdr, USN, Commander of Air Group Thirteen for the period 6-16 September 1944," dtd 25Nov44.
47. Adm Jesse B. Oldendorf Itr to DirMCHist, dtd 25Mar50, in Peleliu Comment File, hereafter Oldendorf ltr.
48. Oldendorf ltr.
49. CinCPac-CinCPOA Translations Item No. 12,190, "Extracts taken from the diary of an unidentified man," 15May-15Sep44.
51. Oldendorf ltr.
52. Admiral Oldendorf commented that this blockhouse was not shown on the maps furnished him and that during "the preliminary bombardment and until several days after the landing, my entire staff was on the sick list, only my flag lieutenant remaining on his feet. This threw a heavy load on me, as I not only had to supervise the details of the daytime operations but also operate tactically at night during withdrawals." Ibid.
53. RAdm George H. Fort ltr to DirMCHist, dtd 20Mar50, in Peleliu Comment File, hereafter Fort ltr.
54. Comments on the Palau (Peleliu) Monograph by Col William H. Harrison, n.d., hereafter Harrison cmts.
55. Isely and Crowl, U.S. Marines and Amphibious War, p. 403.