The Battle of Bloody Ridge Nose was fought during the bigger Battle of Peleliu, on Umurbrogol, on the island of Peleliu, from September 17 to November 26, 1944, during WWII. Nicknamed “Bloody Ridge Nose” by the US Marines, the Umurbrogol was in fact a series of ridges where the Japanese had dug in deep in the hillsides as they had built a tunnel network, with caves overlooking every narrow ravines the Americans had to advance through, with Hill 100 being the most heavily defended and the hardest to capture as it bristled with machine gun nests and gun emplacements.
The invasion of Peleliu island had started on September 15, with the Marines landing on the western beaches of the southern tip of the island. Once they had captured the air field, they moved northward until they ran into small ravines lying in between steep-sided ridges and hills where the advance was stopped by Japanese machine gun and mortar fire. Heavy bombardment carried out by naval guns from US warships did not succeed in destroying the Japanese defenses as the enemy had dug in deeply into the hills.
The first attack on Bloody Ridge Nose began on September 17 and it involved the 1st Battalion of the 1st Marine Division. This unit got decimated as they tried to take Hill 100. Here, Captain Everett Pope and his company walked into a trap as they reached the summit of one hill only to be viciously attacked from Japanese positions located on a higher hill nearby. Pinned down by enemy machine gun fire, they had to stay the night there. As they had run out of ammunition, Pope and his men had to fight against the Japanese using their bayonets, knifes, fists, and even rocks. Only 9 men from this company survived as Everett Pope (1919-2009) would be decorated with the Medal of Honor.
During the following weeks, about 2,500 men of 7th Marine Division and 6,000 GIs of US Army’s 81st Division continued to fight against the Japenese troops in these hills. Finally, by November 26, with the fire support of F4U Corsair aircraft, which dropped napalm bombs on the caves in the hillsides, the last pocket of resistance in the Umurbrogel Ridges, nick-named “the China Wall”, had been cleared. The China Wall was a sheer ridge cliff where the Japanese commander’s cave was situated. To destroy this position the Americans used 75mm guns.
Approximately 1,800 US troops had been killed and about 2,000 got wounded. That was the price the Americans had to pay to capture Umurbrogol Hills.
Weapons used by the ground troops: flamethrowers, 60 and 120 mm mortars, explosives, bazookas, 105 and 75mm guns, machine guns, rifles, submachine guns, even knifes and bayonets.
Japanese commander: General Kunio Nakagawa
American commander: Major General William H Rupertus
The “2,000-yd stare”, which was the facial expression of many US troops that fought for Bloody Ridge Nose