Veterans Remember the Battle of Peleliu

Peleliu Artillery Group

11th Marines (1st-4th Battalions)

Sgt Maurice L. Wentz, E-2-11
"By the 5th day, we were running low on food. Food was cut down to 2 meals a day and the water supply was running low. The Japanese had contaminated the water supply, except for the water they had in the caves. Shoes, socks and clothing were now getting ragged and worn out, but by the 6th day, new dungarees, shoes, socks, k-rations and food was shipped in. By the 15th day, one third of the first Marine Division was unable to fight. The fighting was still going strong even though daytime temperatures were around 115 degrees in the shade."
John L. "Les" Sharpe, H&S-3-11
"I was on Peleliu from the initial landing until the division was returned to Pavuvu. Although I was a radio operator in the 'Comm Section', I toted a heavy drum of telephone wire ashore in the landing. Telephone communication was greatly preferred to radio on Peleliu. Actually, I participated in more telephone activity, like stringing telephone lines, which frequently had to be replaced. I recall a few scary late-night watches operating switchboard."
young man in uniform
L to R: Lamar Craig, Les Sharpe, Ben Adams (?), Joseph Basalyga
young man in uniform
L to R: Les Sharpe, Emmett White
Daniel Bloom, H-3-11
"I was in the artillery 105 howitzer. I remember the island being very hot and barren after the navy got through shelling it. We lost a lot of good marines taking Peleliu."
Carleton Penn, I-3-11
young man in uniform
"I landed at Peleliu on September 15, 1944 at H + 9 minutes. I was a replacement for the 11th Marines as a Forward Observer and Forward Observers did not last long. I was sent to direct fire for Spencer Berger's battalion. His outfit had been ordered up onto Bloody Nose Ridge at its south end above the airstrip. I recall thinking what a deadly order it was.

I took my FO up the Ridge, meeting casualties coming down through the rocky crags, stretcher-bearers finding it difficult not to drop their burdens because of the steepness and treacherous footing. It was like a moonscape.

We were completely exposed up there and there were no foxholes. During the night, with almost every burst of enemy mortar round, someone would yell, 'Corpsman!'.

The next morning, I saw one of our .30 caliber machine guns dumped over, and the trousers of the machine gunner there with his feet and legs still in the trousers.

A couple of days later, on September 22, I was ordered up the West Beach Road along the side of Bloody Nose Ridge. Part-way up, while trying to find a suitable spot to direct artillery fire, I was wounded. The Corpsman who came to me caught a burst of enemy machine gun fire through his forearms while attending my wounds. No words or praise are adequate for those guys!"
Stanley J. Mikulak, M-4-11
young man in uniform
Some of the Comm Section of M-4-11
Back Row, L to R: A. J. Walker, H. H. Porterfield, R. Stephen
Kneeling: S. J. Mikulak
Guadalcanal, September 1944, enroute to Peleliu
"I was with the Comm section M-4-11. At landing we supported part of the 7th marines. A few things that I recall are:

The time the Japanese were using colored smoke for spotting. The alarm went out GAS, GAS, GAS, everybody went looking for their gas masks, BUT the heat was so terrific we couldn't breathe, so off came the masks.

When we weren't needed for spotting artillery, we were assigned to support the 1st marines.

Another assignment we had was holding the line facing the lagoon. We called ourselves 'the mess gear repair battalion'.

Also the flies and the stench became unbearable."

3rd 155mm Howitzer Battalion

No veterans have submitted recollections.

8th 155mm Gun Battalion (- Battery C)

Robert Kilcline, 8th 155 Gun Battalion
"I served with the 8th 155 Gun Battalion on Peleliu from about September 18, 1944 until the end of November. I guess our claim to fame was firing directly into the caves to close them.

There were about 6 battalions of heavy artillery—3 of guns and 3 of howitzers—all spread out among the 6 divisions as needed."
John A. Stauffer
young man in uniform
(As told by his daughter, Susan): "John Stauffer was a private first class Radio Field Operator (a 'Sparky')and ran the portable radios, operated the jeep radios (which he sometimes drove) and served in the Pacific arena 12-3-1943 — 11-11-1945 with the First Marine Division, 4th Defense Battalion, Third Amphibious Corp, Artillery, 9th 155th MM Gun Battalion—the 'Long Toms.' Some of his Marine buddies included Lennie May (Massachusetts), Angelo Russo (Waterbury, CT), Ralph Kastor (New York), Newt Johnstone and his best friend, John 'Padge' Powell (Florida). He was stationed on Guadalcanal, and participated in action against the enemy at Peleliu Island, Palau Group (Sept. 16, 1944-Oct. 14, 1944), Okinawa, & Ryuku Islands (April 2, 1945- June 21, 1945).

At Peleliu, he landed in the afternoon invasion with his division on lower Orange Beach, 1 & 2, and after establishing a beachhead, fought their way across the lower end of the island and air strip, all the way to the Mangrove swamp on the other side, where they dug in and waited for their guns, which were on Ngesebus, to arrive. After securing this area of the island, and after positioning their 40 155 Long Toms in the southern portion of the island, they eventually brought them up to pound the areas of 'Radar Hill,' the phosphate plant and the overlooking caves. On October 3rd, this area was secured by noon. On Oct 5th, at 8:40 am, they shelled 'The Pocket,' where nearly a third of all the fortified caves on Peleliu were located (the 'pocket' being the size of 6 or 7 city blocks long, and 3-4 city blocks wide).

The fighting on Peleliu was so horrendous, that John, with his good buddy, 'Padge' (John Powell, now deceased) would recount, somewhat jokingly, they would sleep in their foxholes at night, with their feet sticking out in the hope they would get shot and sent home!

Nevertheless, they fought bravely and successfully and after the battle, returned to their base on Guadalcanal. Several weeks after Peleliu, he lined up with the rest of his division to receive his pay. When it was his turn in line, they couldn't find his name on the list. They asked him "Who the hell are you?" They discovered that John had been listed as killed in action. He had to get several of his buddies to testify that he wasn't dead and had not been killed. He received all his back pay, and finally understood why he had not been assigned guard duty or other chores since the battle! He, along with the rest in his battalion, soon left Guadalcanal and headed for Okinawa.

Padge, in later years, would recount that he learned, during the war, to stick close to John, because he realized that John was a very resourceful soldier and a survivor. For instance, John never slept on a wet bed. He would always find something dry to place between him and what he slept on. Padge felt like if he stayed with John, they would both survive. And in fact, they did."