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PELELIU. The site of an important Japanese air base during World War II. Some American war planners viewed the Palaus Island chain as a stepping-stone on the way back to the Philippines; others thought it should be bypassed. The decision was made in mid-1944 to seize three of the southern Palaus. First to be invaded was Peleliu. The U.S. First Marine Division, under Gen. William H. Rupertus, landed early on 15 September 1944. The 10,000-strong Japanese force, strongly entrenched in the island's central ridge system, fought back stubbornly. It took over two months and the addition of an entire regiment to subdue the last Japanese defenders. While nearly 2,000 Americans died in taking Peleliu, some questioned its value. Airfields on Peleliu, it was discovered, could not support the Philippine invasion in the manner expected.


Hallas, James H. The Devil's Anvil: The Assault on Peleliu. West-port, Conn.: Praeger, 1994.

Ross, Bill D. Peleliu: Tragic Triumph: The Untold Story of the Pacific War's Forgotten Battle. New York, Random House, 1991.

Stanley L.Falk/a. r.

See alsoJapan, Relations with ; Philippine Sea, Battle of the ; World War II ; World War II, Air War Against Japan ; World War II, Navy in .