November 30, 2021
The Battle of Peleliu, code name Operation Stalemate II ("Impasse" in French), took place during World War II between the United States and Japan in the Pacific between September and November 1944 on the island of Peleliu in the Palau archipelago. American forces, originally the only 1st Marine Division, later reinforced by the Army's 81st Infantry Division, fought for this tiny coral island and its airfield. U.S. General William H. Rupertus, the commander of 1st Marine Division, predicted that the island would be secured within four days, but due to well-established fortifications and strong Japanese resistance, the fighting lasted longer. two months. This battle is arguably the most controversial of the war, due to the island's questionable strategic value and the large number of dead. Indeed, after the decisive American victory in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Admiral William Halsey felt that the Japanese air force no longer represented such a serious threat and Peleliu's objective therefore appeared less strategic. In proportion to the number of men involved, Peleliu was after Iwo Jima the second deadliest battle of the Pacific War for the Americans, with a third of those involved having been either killed or wounded; taking into account only combat infantry units and battalions, the loss rate on the island reached nearly 65%. More than 97% of the Japanese defenders perished on their side. The two armies annihilated each other in a battle of attrition where the savagery of both sides, and the harshness of the fighting, were deemed unmatched post-war by veterans of previous and subsequent clashes against the Japanese Empire. After the end of the battle, a few skirmishes continued to break out sporadically. The last group of Japanese soldiers, made up of 26 men, did not surrender to the American troops stationed there until April 21, 1947, almost two and a half years after the end of the conquest of the island.