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Battle of Peleliu Island, and USS Indianapolis.

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"Shortly after 11:00 A.M. of the fourth day, (following the sinking of the USS Indianapolis,) the survivors were accidentally discovered by LT. (jg) Wilbur C. Gwinn, piloting his PV-1 Ventura Bomber on routine antisubmarine patrol. Radioing his base, he alerted, "many men in the water"."  http://www.ussindianapolis.org/story.htm


Thus begins the story of the rescue as many are familiar with it, yet it is not the entire story.


That begins ten months earlier and hundreds of miles further south in the Palau Islands.


On September 15th, 1944, the Third US Amphibious Group, carrying the 1st Marine Division and the 81st US Army Infantry Division attacked Japanese held islands in the Palau Islands group. While the army was focused on Angaur, the Marines went ashore on Peleliu.


Following a month of fighting that was every bit as brutal and to the knife as what would follow in February 1945 on Iwo Jima, and in April on Okinawa; the Marines secured Peleliu at a cost of over 2,000 killed and over 8,000 wounded. 'Secured' in the sense there was no longer any organized resistance. Japanese survivors of the battle were still alive years later. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_holdout#1945.E2.80.931949


Following the battle, Peleliu became a backwater and a base for patrol aircraft, overshadowed by the soon to occur invasion of Leyte Island and the Philippines, and all the action which occurred there.


Ten months later, flying his PV-1 Ventura from Peleliu Island, Lt. Gwinn would discover the survivors of the Indianapolis floating in the ocean.


Many arguments have been made that Peleliu was unnecessary; it is not my intent to debate that here; what I will ask though is that 'if not for the patrol base on Peleliu; would the survivors from the Indianapolis have ever been found?'


It is possible the ship may have vanished from the face of the Earth, and her fate would not have been know until investigation of Japanese naval archives after the war revealed the actions of Captain Mochitsura Hashimoto and his submarine, the I-58. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mochitsura_Hashimoto


In that sense it can be said that the price for the lives of the 317 eventual survivors from the Indianapolis, was paid by the 10,000 dead and wounded Marines on Peleliu Island.


As we remember the USS Indianapolis and the ship's sinking with its introduction into World of Warships; let us also remember those who fought and died, or were wounded, on the Island of Peleliu ten months earlier.




Recommended reading and viewing:


The following two books were my introduction to the Battle of Peleliu. I was so impressed with Sledge's 'With the Old Breed' I wanted to send him a note of thanks, but unfortunately found out he had passed away the previous month. Rest well Sledge.






While Eugene Sledge's book covers the later part of the war in the Pacific, Robert Leckie's book covers the earlier part, including the Battle for Guadalcanal.


My copies of both books are well-worn and dog-eared from repeated readings.


Much like the its earlier European sister series; 'The Pacific' is easily the 'Band of Brothers' for that theater.





Edited by Estimated_Prophet
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The Japanese fought very bravely for Peleliu until 1947 when they were talked into surrendering by a former commander.

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