10 photos to show some of what happened between the 15th September and the 27th November 1944 as the Americans tried to take the island of Peleliu from the Japanese during the Second World War. 

On the morning of the 15th of September 1944 the US 1st Marine Division landed on this southwest beach under heavy fire from the Japanese who had dug fortifications all along the beach. The fortifications were largely undamaged from three days of aerial bombardments, although most of the greenery had been blown away.

On the morning of the 15th of September 1944 the US 1st Marine Division landed on this southwest beach under heavy fire from the Japanese who had dug fortifications all along the beach. The fortifications were largely undamaged from three days of aerial bombardments, although most of the greenery had been blown away.

The Marines landed in these sorts of vehicles called LVT (Landing Vehicle Tracked) which were able to simply run over the reef that protected the beach (You can see it on the left in the previous picture). Yet the Japanese were able to destroy 60 of them on the first day.

The Marines landed in these sorts of vehicles called LVT (Landing Vehicle Tracked) which were able to simply run over the reef that protected the beach (You can see it on the left in the previous picture). Yet the Japanese were able to destroy 60 of them on the first day.

As the Marines were getting a tenous foothold near the end of the first day, the Japanese counterattacked them to push them off the beaches with 15 of these Type 95 light tanks, all of which were quickly destroyed. This one never made it near to the beaches having been destroyed near the airfield.

As the Marines were getting a tenous foothold near the end of the first day, the Japanese counterattacked them to push them off the beaches with 15 of these Type 95 light tanks, all of which were quickly destroyed. This one never made it near to the beaches having been destroyed near the airfield.

This was the Americans objective, the airfield. It was deemed vital to support the upcoming invasion of the Philippines. It is still in use today, although only by Cessna planes.This was the Americans objective, the airfield. It was deemed vital to support the upcoming invasion of the Philippines. It is still in use today, although only by Cessna planes.

This was the Americans objective, the airfield. It was deemed vital to support the upcoming invasion of the Philippines. It is still in use today, although only by Cessna planes.This was the Americans objective, the airfield. It was deemed vital to support the upcoming invasion of the Philippines. It is still in use today, although only by Cessna planes.

Before the invasion the Japanese used the airfield for bomber and fighter planes to harass American shipping and island bases, all of which were destroyed during the aerial bombardments. This Mitsubishi Zero crash landed in what is now jungle, killing the pilot. You can still see the extended wheels. The propeller and engine can be found further in the jungle.

Before the invasion the Japanese used the airfield for bomber and fighter planes to harass American shipping and island bases, all of which were destroyed during the aerial bombardments. This Mitsubishi Zero crash landed in what is now jungle, killing the pilot. You can still see the extended wheels. The propeller and engine can be found further in the jungle.

What remains of the Japanese headquarters about a hundred metres away from the airfield. At the time there was an unobstructed view over the airfield from the 1st floor. The Americans had to cross the unprotected airfield in order to take it. Today the view is completely overgrown with jungle. By the 8th day the Marines had captured the airfield and the southern portion of the island.

What remains of the Japanese headquarters about a hundred metres away from the airfield. At the time there was an unobstructed view over the airfield from the 1st floor. The Americans had to cross the unprotected airfield in order to take it. Today the view is completely overgrown with jungle. By the 8th day the Marines had captured the airfield and the southern portion of the island.

In preparation for the American invasion the Japanese dug an expansive cave system into the soft limestone rock from which they could launch attacks against the Americans, while being protected themselves. Today a lot of caves are sealed, some still with remains inside. This one has had the bodies removed but most other things were left as is. You will find empty bottles, shoes, food bowls, little statues and empty ammunition casings strewn around everywhere. Bats and scorpion spiders were abundant.

In preparation for the American invasion the Japanese dug an expansive cave system into the soft limestone rock from which they could launch attacks against the Americans, while being protected themselves. Today a lot of caves are sealed, some still with remains inside. This one has had the bodies removed but most other things were left as is. You will find empty bottles, shoes, food bowls, little statues and empty ammunition casings strewn around everywhere. Bats and scorpion spiders were abundant.

The Americans found it extremely difficult to dislodge the Japanese from the caves. They had cleverly built them with multiple entrances and maze-like interiors, so that even when the Americans were assaulting an entrance the Japanese used another exit to flank them. Eventually they began using flamethrowers, white phosphorus grenades (which burn you to the bone no matter what), and using demolitions to close off entrances. You can still see the scorch marks from the flamethrowers just above this cave.

The Americans found it extremely difficult to dislodge the Japanese from the caves. They had cleverly built them with multiple entrances and maze-like interiors, so that even when the Americans were assaulting an entrance the Japanese used another exit to flank them. Eventually they began using flamethrowers, white phosphorus grenades (which burn you to the bone no matter what), and using demolitions to close off entrances. You can still see the scorch marks from the flamethrowers just above this cave.

On the 24th of November, full 70 days after the start of the invasion the Japanese commander Colonel Nakagawa radioed the Japanese high command: "Our sword is broken and we have run out of spears". He burnt his regimental colours and performed ritual suicide. Three days later the Americans declared the island secure. This is supposedly that cave, although I later found out it is only labelled as such by the Japanese due to being easier to access than the actual cave of the last stand, which is deeper in Bloody Nose Ridge.

On the 24th of November, full 70 days after the start of the invasion the Japanese commander Colonel Nakagawa radioed the Japanese high command: "Our sword is broken and we have run out of spears". He burnt his regimental colours and performed ritual suicide. Three days later the Americans declared the island secure. This is supposedly that cave, although I later found out it is only labelled as such by the Japanese due to being easier to access than the actual cave of the last stand, which is deeper in Bloody Nose Ridge.

The view looking north from the top of Bloody Nose Ridge, underneath my feet an expansive network of caves which housed nearly 11,000 Japanese soldiers. All died in the defense of this tiny island, save for 181 Okinawan and Korean labourers and 19 Japanese soldiers. The Americans lost 2,336 and 8,450 wounded for an airfield that proved to be of little strategic value for the remainder of the war. The islands you see in the distance which include the capital Koror and the biggest island of Palau, Babeldaob, were not invaded and remained under Japanese control until the 2nd of September 1945, nearly a year after the invasion of Peleliu. The 49,700 people still on those islands, of which 44,000 were Japanese or other foreigners suffered greatly during that time with food shortages and constant harrassment by american fighter planes. Most of the Japanese were repatriated to Japan after the war and the population is today at 20,918.

The view looking north from the top of Bloody Nose Ridge, underneath my feet an expansive network of caves which housed nearly 11,000 Japanese soldiers. All died in the defense of this tiny island, save for 181 Okinawan and Korean labourers and 19 Japanese soldiers. The Americans lost 2,336 and 8,450 wounded for an airfield that proved to be of little strategic value for the remainder of the war. The islands you see in the distance which include the capital Koror and the biggest island of Palau, Babeldaob, were not invaded and remained under Japanese control until the 2nd of September 1945, nearly a year after the invasion of Peleliu. The 49,700 people still on those islands, of which 44,000 were Japanese or other foreigners suffered greatly during that time with food shortages and constant harrassment by american fighter planes. Most of the Japanese were repatriated to Japan after the war and the population is today at 20,918.