Peleliu Engineer Group
1st Engineer Battalion (- Company 1-c)
- Chester Reece, H&S, 1st Engineer Battalion
Eighty in my company went in. Our mission, as designated, was simple enough. We were to turn left upon hitting the beach, go about a hundred and fifty yards and set up a beach defense to prevent the Japanese from landing behind our lines in their tiny boats after dark. Had things gone as planned this use of our Engineers as defense would have made sense. No one foresaw the terrible losses on the way in and no one expected the infantry, directly in front of us, to take such horrible losses after getting on the beach. Two companies, I & K of the 1st Marines, were virtually chopped to pieces by the time we arrived.
When we landed, the enemy was plastering the beach area with mortar and artillery fire so we had to dig in where we were. When the firing let up we attempted to go left according to plan. Before we had gone fifty yards we ran into an enemy tank with about twenty Japanese infantry huddled up behind it. It was obvious there was a big hole in our lines up front. We had no defense against a tank except one .50 caliber machine gun and it was in three pieces being carried by three of our men.
We were pinned down on that narrow beach which, at low tide, was only about forty feet wide. At high tide the water lapped at the roots of the trees and scrub brush. In one of those strange happenings of war, the Japanese tank turned inland instead of pushing out onto our narrow piece of sand. I believe the tank commander saw one of our Sherman tanks standing perpendicular to the beach about a hundred yards behind us and, knowing he was no match for the Sherman, decided to turn inland. Had he been about to see the far side of the tank, he would have known it was out of commission."
33rd Naval Construction Battalion (-)
73rd Naval Construction Battalion (-)