Palau Islands, 1944

The Palau Islands had been used as an advance base for the Combined Fleet, but raids on the 30 and 31 March on the Palaus and the Western Carolines forced the Japanese to remove their HQ to Davao. The Palaus were to be invaded by Halsey's Central Pacific Force on the same day as Morotai. The Japanese had built strong defenses under the command of Lieutenant General Inone and had 6,000 combat troops on the island of Peleliu. The US invasion was preceded by a heavy naval bombardment but it left the defenses intact. On 15 September, 1st Marine Division landed on the southwest corner of Peleliu and it took them four days to take the airfielf in the southern part of the island. The drive northwards was halted by heavy artillery on the Umurbrogol Mountain where the Japanese had dug themselves in. The battle became known as the Battle of Bloody Noose Ridge because resistance was worn down

slowly and was finally overcome on 25 November.Meanwhile on 17 September the 81st Infantry Division landed at Angaur and met little opposition because the Japanese commander would not commit his 1,400 troops to what he thought was a diversionary landing. Within two days the island was overrun, although resistance continued until 13 October.

The Marines' operation in Peleliu was very costly with 1,792 US killed and 8,011 wounded which represented a 40 percent casualty rate. The operation gave the Americans control of the Palau Islands.