The Devil's Anvil: The Assault on Peleliu

By James H. Hallas | Go to book overview

Chapter 2

Nearly 1,600 miles from Guadalcanal, General Sadae Inoue was prepared to make any U.S. assault on the Palaus as costly as possible. His orders from Superior Headquarters were blunt: "The islands must be held to the very last as the first position barring the enemy from penetrating the Pacific. Peleliu and Angaur must be fortified as important air bases."

Ironically, following the American capture of the Marianas and the northern coast of New Guinea, strategists at Imperial General Headquarters recognized the possibility that the enemy might bypass the Palaus altogether and proceed directly to the Philippines. Some thought was apparently given to evacuating General Inoue's men from the Palaus, but sufficient shipping was not available, and the idea had to be abandoned. In any event, prowling submarines would have made any withdrawal an expensive proposition at best. The 14th Division would stay where it was, and if the Americans invaded, it would do its duty and fight to the death.

As the summer wore on, this possibility seemed more and more likely. An American carrier strike in mid-July was followed by stepped-up attacks by land-based aircraft during August. B-24s of the U.S. 5th Air Force had begun a concerted effort to pulverize Japanese defenses throughout the Palaus. Night flights from 8 August through 14 September dumped 912 tons of fragmentation and incendiary bombs on the island chain. Beginning on 25 August, American bombers based in New Guinea and the Admiralties took on Japanese fighters and heavy flak in daylight runs over the target.

One of these air raids caught General Inoue on an inspection tour of Peleliu, his second since the 14th Division arrived in the Palaus. He had just finished circling the island by barge when U.S. planes struck. "From the northern end of the island, I saw smoke rising from the airfield sector," he recalled. "I landed on the north side and immediately went to the airfield to ascertain the damage. The naval headquarters had suffered a direct hit,

-18-

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The Devil's Anvil: The Assault on Peleliu
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter 1 1
  • Notes 16
  • Chapter 2 18
  • Notes 39
  • Chapter 3 40
  • Chapter 4 52
  • Chapter 5 70
  • Notes 97
  • Chapter 6 98
  • Notes 112
  • Chapter 7 113
  • Notes 138
  • Chapter 8 153
  • Chapter 9 179
  • Notes 196
  • Chapter 10 197
  • Chapter 11 207
  • Notes 226
  • Chapter 12 227
  • Note 247
  • Chapter 13 248
  • Notes 263
  • Chapter 14 265
  • Chapter 15 275
  • Notes 282
  • Epilogue 283
  • Bibliography 285
  • Index 289
  • About the Author *
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