Peleliu

Overview

Introduction

Peleliu (pronounced beh-LEE-lio), the scene of one of the fiercest battles of World War II, is now a peaceful island. On 15 September 1944, 45,000 U.S. troops invaded and began a two-and-a-half-month-long struggle that wiped out more than 11,000 Japanese defenders (U.S. casualties were 1,800 killed and 8,000 wounded). Many remnants of the buildup are still there as well as war artifacts, memorials and wrecked tanks. Start your visit at the Museum of World War II and then visit the battle sites. The usual route includes stops at Orange Beach, White Beach and Bloody Beach and then follows the invaders' path inland to Bloody Nose Ridge, the airfield and Japanese caves. Today, elderly veterans from both sides visit poignant war memorials (U.S. Army, Marine and Imperial Japanese monuments sit within sight of each other). Entire Japanese families, along with Shinto priests, often visit the memorial sites. Structures dating from the war include the remains of a Japanese communications center, pillboxes, an airstrip, administration buildings, Japanese and U.S. tanks, mangled airplane parts and the Thousand Man Cave, one of the largest defense positions built by the Japanese.

You can visit Peleliu on a day trip by plane or boat from Koror. For a longer visit, stay in one of the island's guesthouses (they're modest, but clean). Because there is no electricity on Peleliu during the day, there is no air-conditioning to retreat to from the heat of the day. 30 mi/48 km southwest of Koror.

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