Pen & Sword's Hell in the Central Pacific
|Pen & Sword|
|$24.95 from Casemate|
236 pages, softcover, 7.5 x 9.5 inches
This addition to the Images of War series concentrates on the invasion of the Palau Islands in 1944 and especially the fighting on Peleliu. There has been much discussion since the end of the war as to whether this invasion actually needed to take place. One thing for sure is that the Japanese were well prepared and the resulting very high casualty rate amongst the Marines is proof of that. The entire reason for the invasion was that MacArthur wanted to be sure that the Japanese would not be able to send bombers against his landing forces in Leyte. However, Japanese air power in the Palau chain had been completely destroyed by naval air months before the invasion and there was nothing on the chain's airfields but wrecks.
About the only benefit of the Palauan invasion was the capture of Ulithi, which served as a fleet anchorage until the end of the Pacific war. However, that atoll was completely bare of Japanese as the Japanese Army had removed what forces were there to help with the build up and defense of Peleliu and Bebelthuap. The latter island held a fair percentage of Japanese Army forces and was bypassed. In fact, the only Caroline islands occupied aside from Ulithi were Peleliu and Anguar, an island to the south of Peleliu.
In line with other titles in this series, the author has divided the book into several sections, each covering a certain part of the campaign. The first third or so is all background stuff. This is followed by a section on Terrain, Fortifications and Weapons. As is normal in this series, we have a section on commanders on both sides. Then we get into the invasion of Peleliu itself, which covers the last two chapters and includes the invasion of Anguar.
Though mostly a photo book, this one has a fair amount of historical background to give the reader a feel of what the images are portraying. All in all, it makes for an excellent read and the sort of book that should inspire modelers as well. Well worth picking up.
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