Peleliu’s Forgotten World War II Battlefield

Mission Plan | Amphibious Assault | LVTs | Biological Characterization | Tools | Military Terrain Analysis | Explorers | Photos

Left: Department of Defense Photo (USN) 95253. Engaged in the bitter struggle to establish the Peleliu beach-head, Marine riflemen get only momentary shelter behind an LVT(A), while other Marines atop the amphibian tractor fire at enemy targets. The name of the LVT [The Bloody Trail] was more than prophetic. Right: Department of Defense Photo (USN) 94913. The skies over the landing beaches of Peleliu are blackened with smoke rising from the ground as the result of the combined naval and aerial pre-landing bombardment, as amphibian tractors rush shoreward carrying the assault waves.

Left: Engaged in the bitter struggle to establish the Peleliu beach-head, Marine riflemen get only momentary shelter behind an LVT(A), while other Marines atop the amphibian tractor fire at enemy targets. The name of the LVT, The Bloody Trail, was more than prophetic. (Department of Defense Photo (USN) 95253.)

Right: The skies over the landing beaches of Peleliu are blackened with smoke rising from the ground as the result of the combined naval and aerial pre-landing bombardment, as amphibian tractors rush shoreward carrying the assault waves. (Department of Defense Photo (USN) 94913.)

 


 

Mission Overview

At 0800 on September 15, 1944, the first waves of men in 73 amphibious tractors started for the beaches of Peleliu, one of the Palau Islands of the western Pacific. The subsequent battle was the bloodiest first-day landing of the entire Pacific campaign. Despite this, the amphibious element of the invasion is largely ignored in World War II histories. This project will be the first of its kind in Peleliu to explore the landing beaches and fringing reef by conducting a comprehensive, systematic remote sensing search for the material remains from this forgotten battlefield. Read more...

 

 

Background Information

Mission Plan

Peleliu’s Forgotten World War II Battlefield: Mission Plan

This project will be the first of its kind in Peleliu to explore the landing beaches and fringing reef by conducting a comprehensive, systematic remote sensing search for the material remains from this forgotten battlefield.

Amphibious Assault: Key to the World War II Battle for Peleliu

Amphibious Assault: Key to the World War II Battle for Peleliu

To achieve success against well-fortified islands required an unprecedented level of coordination between the U.S. Navy, Marines, and Army. It also required a completely new way of thinking, new equipment designed specifically for the task (amphibious craft), and a specially trained team of men.

In and Out of the Water

In and Out of the Water

The Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT), also known as the amphibious tractor (Amtrac, Amptrac), was essential to U.S. forces during World War II in the Pacific Theater. The vessel possessed the ability to travel both in and out of the water and was one of the first true amphibious vehicles.

Coral Reef Complexity: 3D Biological Characterization Provides New Insights

Coral Reef Complexity: 3D Biological Characterization Provides New Insights

A three-dimensional approach to studying coral reefs enables accurate measurements of architectural complexity, topography, rugosity, volume, and other structural characteristics that significantly affect biodiversity and abundance of reef organisms.

Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade

For decades maritime archaeologists relied heavily on simply pencil, Mylar (underwater paper), and measuring tapes to carefully measure and record sites underwater by hand. However, within the last five years, our field has been rapidly changing and adopting emerging digital technologies to quickly, accurately, and completely record archaeological sites.

KOCOA Military Terrain Analysis and the Battle of Peleliu

KOCOA Military Terrain Analysis and the Battle of Peleliu

At Peleliu, both Japanese and American forces relied on the island’s terrain in their decision making. The physical landscape—from the cave systems to ridgelines—played a vital role in the movement of troops and resources across the island.