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Warlord Games Looks at the Battle for Peleliu Airfield

The Palau Islands Campaign Book is coming out soon for Bolt Action. In this article, Warlord Games goes over what happened in 1944 as the US looked to capture an island from them, particularly trying to gain control of the Peleliu Airfield, a place of great strategic importance for both sides.

From the article:

Constructed by the Japanese in 1944 on the small island in the Palau Islands group, Peleliu airfield was seen as a potent threat to US efforts in the Pacific theatre. Poised between the key locations of New Guinea, the Marianas and Mindanao, the airfield provided a threat to the flanks of the encroaching US forces. Early US strategy was thus revised to include an invasion of the Palau Islands, both the neutralize the threat of enemy aircraft and to seize the valuable asset of the airfield for their own needs.

Unfortunately for the US invaders, Japanese Intelligence had delivered an incorrect summation. The Japanese had fully expected the attack on the Palaus to come before the Marianas. In reality, the Marianas were invaded first, giving the defenders of the Palaus and additional three months preparation to mount their defence.

Initial Bombardments and Landings

The Japanese had developed new tactics from their previous failures in Island Defence, opting to no longer hold the invaders at the beach, but to draw the enemy into a war of attrition. The island was thus transformed into a honeycomb of networked positions.

The invasion’s preparatory bombardment proved entirely ineffectual, and the Japanese maintained restraint in returning fire so as not to betray their positions.

The result was the marines that landed on the Island on the morning of September 15 1944 were surprised and bogged down by heavy fire by previously unknown positions, suffering extreme casualties and losses of equipment. They also were subject to a daylight counterattack by Japanese tankettes. Though this was repelled, it heralded the change in defensive tactics to the US forces.