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Battle of Peleliu 1944 - WWII LVT Museum

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Visited 2-11-11

Peleliu - Operation Stalemate

Invasion map of Peleliu

Invasion map of Peleliu, D-Day September 15 1944. U.S. Army photo.

Peleliu was located in the southern part of the Palaus Island group and within airstriking distance of the Philippines. With a plan in place to retake the Philippines, it was thought that Peleliu must be taken first, to prevent the Japanese from using airstrikes against the planned Allied invasion fleet for the Philippines.

The Japanese forces on Peleliu consisted of 6,500 combat and 1,400 service personnel.1

Invasion of Peleliu

The invasion Peleliu was assigned to two divisions, one Army and the 1st MarDiv. The 1st MarDiv was expecting 200 LVT(4)s that could carry 30-35 men across the coral reef, however, due to shortages of uncommitted Amtrac units, they received mostly LVT(2)s with a 20 man capacity.

LVT disembarking from LST to head for Peleliu.

LVT disembarking from LST to head for Peleliu. Department of Defense photo.

The assault began at 0800 on September 15, 1944 with naval and carrier airstrikes. Next the LVTs headed for the island. The Navy believed that the Japanese positions had been neutralized since there was no enemy fire as the LVTs approached the reef. However, once the reef had been reached, the Japanese responded with heavy fire.

The first wave reached the beach after 30 minutes, leaving 38 LVT burning on the reef. The heavy armor arrived 30 minutes later in support of the hard pressed infantry. Twenty-seven of the armored amphibians had been lost to enemy action. 1

Crossing the Reef at Peleliu2

Documentary film about Battle of Peleliu and the Battle of Angaur during WWII. Twenty minutes.

Peleliu was ringed with a reef which meant that landing craft must land 700 yards of the beach. In most places, once the reef was reached, it was shallow enough to allow the tanks to operate.

However, problems occurred when the tanks encountered low spots, causing the tanks to sink. A system was devised where a column of tanks followed an amphibious LVT. If the LVT began to float, the column of tanks waited until the amtrac found a more shallow route. This technique prevented the loss of many tanks due to sinking in low spots of the lagoon prior to reaching the beach.

Casualties at Peleliu

The battle for Peleliu was one of the bloodiest of the Pacific War. The fighting continued for 7 days, with pockets of resistance being encountered through November 27, 1944. When Peleliu had been secured, there were 6,526 U.S. casualties (1,252 KIA). The Japanese suffered the near total destruction of their garrison, with over 10,900 killed and 202 prisoners of war captured, most all of whom were conscripted laborers. 1

Amphibian Units ~ Battle of Peleliu: D-Day 15 September 19441

1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion (120) LVT-2s
(one sign said a mix of LVT-2s & LVT-4s).
(3) were fitted with flame-throwers.
3rd Armored Amphibian Tractor Battalion Reinforced
(193) LVT-2s & (24) LVT-A1s
6th Amphibian Tractor Battalion (80) LVT-2s
(One sign stated these were LVT-4s).
8th Amphibian Tractor Battalion (21) LVT-2s


1 Information based on signs at the WWII Korean LVT Museum at Camp Del Mar Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California.

2 General Gordon D. Gayle, USMC. Bloody Beaches:The Marines at Peleliu. Washington, D.C. : Marine Corp Historical Center, 1996, p.16