Victory At Peleliu: The 81st Infantry Division's Pacific Campaign
When the 1st Marine Division began its invasion of Peleliu in September 1944, the operation in the South Pacific was to take but four days. In fact, capturing this small coral island in the Palaus with its strategic airstrip took two months and involved some of the bloodiest fighting of WWII in the Pacific. Rather than the easy conquest they were led to expect, the Marines who landed on Peleliu faced a war of attrition from the island's Japanese defenders, who had dug tunnels and fortified the island's rugged terrain. When the Marines' advance stalled after a week of heavy casualties, the 'Wildcats' of the 81st Infantry Division were called in, at first as support. Eventually, the 1st Marines Division was evacuated and the 81st Infantry secured the island. Previous accounts of the battle have focused on the 1st Marines, but Blair and DeCioccio offer a revised assessment of the contributions of the 81st.
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