Central Pacific Campaigns
"Everything about Peleliu left a bad taste in your mouth."
- Colonel Merwin H. Silverthorn, USMC
Peleliu would be the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff regarded the island’s Japanese bomber strip as a major threat to General Douglas MacArthur’s imminent "return to the Philippines." While subsequent enemy losses in the region diminished the danger, the Marines’ mission remained unchanged.
Riflemen of the 1st Marine Division stormed ashore at Peleliu to encounter a well-armed Japanese force defending 500 caves that honey-combed the sheer coral cliffs of the Umurbrogal highlands, a nightmarish maze the Marines soon nicknamed "Bloody Nose Ridge."
The fighting did little to enhance MacArthur’s return to the Philippines and cost the joint force 10,000 casualties, a price many survivors considered excessive.