preliminary D R A F T -- 1/91



Background and Purpose

In August 1978 the United States enacted Public Law 95-348 establishing the War in the Pacific National Historical Park on Guam. The park's purpose was "to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of those participating in the campaigns of the Pacific theater of World War II" and to preserve and interpret select battle sites related to the recapture of Guam during World War II.

Public Law 95-348 also required the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study of other areas and sites associated with the Pacific campaign of World War II. Section 6(h) of that law directed:

The Secretary, through the Director of the National Park Service, shall conduct and transmit to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs of the House of Representatives a study of additional areas and sites associated with the Pacific campaign of World War II. The study shall contain a description and evaluation of each area or site, and an estimated cost of acquisition, development, and maintenance of the area or site, if appropriate, together with such additional authority as may be needed to enable him to implement his recommendations. The Secretary shall concentrate his study within Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, but shall also investigate additional areas and sites within the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands to the extent possible and may include other areas and sites in the Pacific area if practicable.

The General Management Plan for War in the Pacific National Historical Park (April 1983) identifies additional sites on Guam. A historic resources study, Historic Resources, War in the Pacific National Historical Park, Guam (1984) by National Park Service historian Erwin N. Thompson identifies and summarizes NPS knowledge of other World War II sites on Guam. The general management plan and the historic resources study form the resource base for responding to Section 6(h) of Public Law 95-348 with regard to additional sites on Guam.

For those additional areas and sites outside Guam, the National Park Service in 1985 carried out a national historic landmark theme study of World War II in the Pacific. This study, also by historian Thompson, describes and evaluates theme related resources in more than 50 separate locations. The study was divided into four general subthemes: (1) Japanese Expansion in the Pacific, (2) The United States Home Front, (3) Alaska and the Aleutians, and (4) The United States' Central Pacific Drive. The geographic area surveyed consisted of United States territory in the states of Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Washington, as well as Midway and Wake islands; and it also included the area encompassing the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, from which four political entities have emerged: the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau. The study determined that within this expanse there were certain theme?related areas and sites that were of national significance and possessing sufficient integrity to warrant being nominated for designation as national historic landmarks. Most of these areas and sites have since been designated National Historic Landmarks by the Secretary of the Interior.

Figure 1. Location Map, The Pacific Ocean Islands; portions of Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana

The purpose of this study is to examine those national historic landmarks within the two subthemes, United States' Central Pacific Drive and Japanese Expansion in the Pacific, and to determine whether any of these nationally significant areas or sites are feasible for inclusion within the national park system. Those considered were Kwajalein, Republic of the Marshall Islands; Roi-Namur, Republic of the Marshall Islands; Enewetok, Republic of the Marshall Islands; Truk Lagoon, Federated States Micronesia; Ulithi, Federated States of Micronesia; portions of Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; Peleliu, Republic of Palau; Hickam Air Force Base, Wheeler Field, Kaneohe Naval Air Station, Fort Shafter (Palm Circle), and CINCPAC Headquarters, all in the State of Hawaii; and Midway and Wake islands, both U. S. Possessions. Of these, the areas examined, four appear to meet the criteria as potential additions to the national park system: Peleliu, Truk Lagoon, and portions of Saipan and a related site on Tinian. The others presently are active military bases or without public access and consequently judged to be infeasible at this time.

This report deals with the island of Peleliu, the name it was known by to American G.I.'s.


Study Setting

The Republic of Palau, occupying the westernmost archipelago of the Caroline Islands, became self-governing on January 1, 1981 under a constitution originally ratified in the referendum of July 1979. The constitution provides for a bicameral legislature, an executive branch, a judiciary and state governments. The president is the chief executive and is aided in an advisory capacity by a council of chiefs (these are the traditional chiefs, one from each of the states) on matters dealing with traditional laws and customs.

Palau is composed of 16 states (see Figure 2), each with an elected executive officer, an elected legislative body, and a major chief heading the ranking state council of chiefs. These states were originally loosely tied village clusters, becoming municipalities during the Trust Territory period. Each of the states has an approved constitution.

Tradition remains very strong in Palau. The national constitution incorporates an article designed to protect traditional rights; i.e., the government is enjoined from taking any action to prohibit or revoke the role or function of a traditional leader as recognized by custom and tradition that is not consistent with the constitution. In case of a conflict, a statute prevails "only to the extent it is not in conflict with the underlying principles of the traditional law."

Historically, Palauan society was (and still is) organized into villages that were traditionally ruled by a council of 10 male chiefs and a parallel advisory staff of 10 female elders, each representing one of the ranking clans of the village clusters. As noted, these village clusters, municipalities during Trust Territory times, are today's states. Usually the male council addressed matters relating to the local economy, welfare, and law and order. The female council concerned itself mainly with matters of inheritance and interlineage or interclan peace.

Land and money were regarded as communal property of an individual's clan group and guarded by the female elders of the clan. Each Palauan was obligated to contribute money to the clan as an expression of loyalty, especially on occasions such as birth, death, marriage, divorce, the purchase of a house or a canoe. This is still largely true today.

The land base of Palau consists of ten major islands -- Babeldaob, Oreor, Ngerkebesang, Ngerukdabel, Mecherchar, Bliliou, Ngeaur, Ngeruangl, Sonsorol, and Tobi 1 -- lying along a northeast/southeast axis and covering about 178 square miles in total area. The entire archipelago consists of about 350 volcanic and limestone islands. Babeldaob, the largest island, covers about 128 square miles or more than 70 percent of the entire land base; however, it is on the smaller island of Oreor to the south where most of the population resides and where most of the economic activity takes place; Oreor is also the capital. Only eight of the islands have permanent residents. Below Oreor lie about 200 small pristine and unique coral limestone islands popularly referred to as the "Rock Islands." To the south is the island of Bliliou, the scene of one of the most fierce and bloody battles of World War II. The 1982 study, "Natural Landmarks Survey of the Islands of the Pacific," prepared for the National Park Service, described the islands of Palau as "among the most remarkable geological and biological features in the world."

Figure 2. States of the Republic of Palau

Bliliou today, peaceful and tranquil, along what is called Honeymoon Beach by local residents. Bliliou today, peaceful and tranquil, along what is called Honeymoon Beach by local residents. In 1944 this was the site of one of the invasion beaches...then called Purple.


All of the major islands except Ngeaur, a small atoll at the southern end of Palau, are enclosed within a single barrier reef nearly 100 miles long. Many of the individual islands, including Bliliou, have their own fringing reefs. There are two atolls to the north outside of the barrier reef, Ngeruangl and Ngcheangl. Some 300 miles to the south are Helen Reef, an atoll with a small islet, and Tobi and Merir, two small islets. Palau's constitution defined the country's territory and jurisdiction to include "all of the islands of the Palauan archipelago, the internal waters..." and "the territorial waters extending out to 200 nautical miles."

Most of the islands of Palau are covered by dense, heterogeneous tropical forests, except Babeldaob where there are extensive areas of savannah and grasslands. These latter areas have been maintained and extended by fire. Mangrove forests grow along most of Babeldaob's coastline, portions of Oreor's and along the northern end of Bliliou's. Subsistence crop are grown on all the major islands. The principal crops consist of taro, cassava, sweet potato, coconut, and banana.

All of Babeldaob, portions of Oreor and its immediate vicinity are volcanic in origin. The rest of Palau -- Mecherchar, Ngerukdabel, Bliliou, Ngeaur, as well as the rest of Oreor, are of limestone formation. These limestone islands often have no soil material, only a layer of leaves and humus. Mecherchar and Ngerukdabel are precipitous and high, Bliliou and Ngeaur are low platforms. Most of Palau's shoreline is fringed with mangrove forest or cliffs; the islands of Bliliou and Ngeaur contain the longest stretches of sand beaches. Babeldaob contains the only perennial streams on Palau.

Oreor, Palau's capital, is one of the most scenic towns in Micronesia Oreor, Palau's capital, is one of the most scenic towns in Micronesia with superb views of the Rock Islands to the south.


The Rock Islands, formed by the weathering of ancient uplifted reefs, have evolved into umbrella-like shapes as their limestone bases erode away. Some of the larger islands are more than 650 feet in height and the larger islands contain biologically unique, marine lakes. All are crowned with dense, tropical forest cover.

Located about 7-1/2 degrees above the equator, Palau's climate is tropical. Consequently, the annual temperature variation is minimal. The mean annual temperature is 81 degrees F. Relative humidity averages about 90 percent at night and 75 to 80 percent during the day. Typhoons are possible but rare. Palau is subject to two wind patterns during the year: the northeast trades from December through March and the southwest monsoons, which are associated with the passage of the doldrums belt through this Pacific area, from June through October. This latter period coincides with the high rainfall period in Palau. The total annual rainfall is nearly 150 inches.

The present population of Palau is estimated to be about 15,000 residents. Except for the island of Oreor where approximately 10,000 people reside, population density is low compared to the rest of Micronesia. Palau has a lower birth and death rate and the median age is higher. According to 1980 U. S. Census figures, there were 12,116 residents of the then Palau District. The 1980 population figure arrived at by the Palau Office of Public Affairs for all Palauans was 14,989. If both these figures are correct, this would mean that there are 2,873 Palauans, or nearly 20 percent of the population, who live abroad. The 1973 census of the Trust Territory showed the Palau District with a resident population of 12,674.

Besides government work, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the total annual wages earned, Palau's principal economic sectors are fishing, agriculture, trade and tourism. Fishing and agriculture make up about 17 percent of the economy and trade another 16 percent. While contributing to only a small portion of the economy, tourism appears to have the greatest potential for growth since the bulk of Palau's wealth undoubtedly lies in its rich and spectacular waters. Most of Palau's budgetary resources for operations, capital improvement, and economic development comes from the United States. Jobs in the wage sector are located mostly in the Oreor area. Palau's tuna packing plant and copra mill which closed down operations several years ago are both scheduled to start up again under new management. Both were major sources of employment. The Micronesian Mariculture Demonstration Center on the island of Malakal is where giant clams, Tridacna derasa, are planted and grown for commercial use. This has been a successful operation, both in terms of restoring the once abundant giant clams to Palau's waters for use as a food source and exporting them to other Pacific islands.

There are three major hotels in Palau; two on Oreor, the 56-room Nikko Hotel and the 47-room Palau Hotel, and one on nearby Ngerkebesang, the newly built Palau Pacific Resort. The latter is a 64-acre resort complex containing 100 rooms.

In 1985 Palau completed its major airport. Located at the southern end of Babeldaob, the facility is serviced several times per week by major airlines from the United States, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines, as well as connecting flights from Europe.

A super port/oil refinery complex was proposed in the 1970's but became controversial and was never built. Similarly, the proposed use of substantial portions of Babeldoaf by the U. S. military was rejected by Palauans.

According to the Pacific Islands Year Book (1984), visitors to Palau in 1982 contributed nearly $2 million to the economy. The bulk of these visitors are tourists who come to enjoy the extraordinary natural beauty of places like Palau's Rock Islands. Tourism has also given rise to related businesses such as scuba diving shops, tour buses, boat and airplane sightseeing, hotels and restaurants.


While still modest in terms of numbers, tourism in Palau has increased dramatically since 1980. During this period, a more than 400% increase in overall visitation has occurred, while visitation increased at about the same rate. Visitors from Japan make up the largest single group of tourists -- nearly all of the Japanese visitors who come to Palau are tourists. American tourists, while not as numerous as those from Japan, have also increased their numbers substantially.

Table A.  Visitors to Palau, 1980-1989

Gross revenues from tourism are estimated at $8 million annually. The Rock Islands, with their white sand beaches, world?class diving and lush vegetation, are recognized by many in Palau as having great development potential for tourists and as a source of economic gain.

Land Ownership and Tenure in Palau

The land tenure system in Palau is derived from the traditional clan system. The clan as a group held title to its lands and individuals could not transfer ownership without clan approval. Land and its resources were held by a single clan, clans, or a village. Public lands and waters generally belonged to a single village or occasionally a group of villages. Although village residents could enter these lands and waters to take its resources, non?residents had to seek permission of village chiefs.

Individual tenure did not exist until German times (1899-1914). Until then, fee simple ownership of land was unknown. Lands within the village were assigned to clan members by the chief. These included lands to be used for home sites, taro farming, wood lots, and palm forests. Ownership of these lands was documented by oral tradition and the uses to which the land was put. Boundaries might change over time.

Three general forms of land tenure occur in Palau: public community tenure, kin group tenure, and individual tenure. The first, the so?called public lands, traditionally were community lands belonging to a village or cluster of villages and controlled by the village or district council. These consisted of the uninhabited, undeveloped lands used primarily for hunting and gathering (wild pigeons and wild yams), timber, or transit. They were accessible, however, only to the residents of the nearby villages; non?residents first had to obtain permission to enter and use these lands. When the Germans arrived on Palau, they declared all of these uninhabited lands to be the property of the government. The offshore reefs and fishing grounds traditionally have been considered to be public too. Commercial fishing in an area in which the fisherman is not a resident requires approval.

When the Japanese arrived, they recognized and retained those lands which the Germans had declared to be in public ownership. In 1932 a land survey was undertaken by the Japanese to distinguish the private from the public lands. Legal recognition of individual land ownership resulted from the Japanese land register. The survey, however, was never completed and never fully recognized by Palauans. Following World War II, Palauans attempted to regain title to some of the public lands designated by the Japanese and made requests to the U. S. Trust Territory government for the return of their lands.

The process of land registration continued during the Trust Territory period. In 1966, the Land Commission Act established land commissions at the territorial and district levels, including Palau, and also land registration teams. The law required that all land parcels in the Trust Territory be registered and recorded, and that boundaries and title be established. It also set up a procedure to determine legal ownership on disputed parcels.

Under the Trust Territory government, public lands could be homesteaded. By establishing productive use of a tract of land for a period of three years, the homesteader could be granted title. Homesteading of public lands, however, was halted in 1974 and title to the public lands was transferred to district authority to be administered by the Palau Land Authority.

The Trust Territory government provided the means by which Palauans whose lands were lost or destroyed during the Japanese period or during World War II could file claims for compensation. The War Claims Act of 1971 also provided the legal means for Palauans to make claim against the U. S. and Japan for damages done to their lands during World War II. Bliliou was the area most affected by these claims since its residents were evacuated by the Japanese and its lands severely damaged during the World War II battle there.

Under Palau's Constitution, homesteading of public lands can once again be resumed. Presently, there are about 77,000 acres of public lands in Palau; about 9,000 of these have been committed to municipal uses and administrative services, the rest remains in open space. Some of these public lands are leased. These public lands are being reviewed by the Republic of Palau to see if any should be in private ownership.

Compact of Free Association

After long negotiations, Palau and the United States have approved a Compact of Free Association as the basis for their future relationship with each other. Under the provisions of the Compact, Palau has achieved its desired autonomy and is at the same time retaining its ties with the United States.

The Compact, which was signed by the two parties in August 1982, calls for Palau to be fully self-governing. The United States is to provide grants for economic assistance. The actual funding for economic assistance is to last for 15 years; after that, the funding will come from investment in interest bearing instruments of the United States made during the first year. In return for the economic assistance, the United States is to obtain contingency land-use rights for military purposes. The period of the free association relationship is to be for 50 years but could be terminated at any time, either by mutual agreement or unilaterally.

In September 1986, the Compact of Free Association with Palau was approved by Congress and signed by the President; it constitutes both a public law and an international agreement for the United States.

Palau's final approval of the Compact, however, has been delayed because of that document's inconsistency with the nuclear-free provision contained in Palau's Constitution. Several plebiscites have been held to attempt to override the constitutional ban on nuclear substances being introduced on Palau's soil and in its territorial waters -- under Palauan law, a three-quarters majority of the voters is required. However, asking three-quarters of the electorate of any democracy to agree on an issue is a formidable task -- maybe even an impossible one (one of the plebiscites to override the constitutional ban on nuclear substances resulted in a 72 percent voter approval, a remarkable consensus) -- and these plebiscites have been unsuccessful. In August 1987, Palau held a national referendum to amend their constitution and remove the nuclear-free provision. Following the successful passage of that referendum, the voters of Palau approved the Compact of Free Association with the United States by 73 percent majority (only a simple majority was needed for Compact approval).

Final approval of the Compact has not occurred. Based on a lawsuit filed in April 1988, the Palau Supreme Court ruled that the referendum to change the constitution was illegal. In December 1989, final approval of the Compact by the U. S. was signed into law. However, the Compact cannot be implemented until it is approved under provisions of Palau's constitution and free from legal challenge. The latest plebiscite, the seventh, was held in February 1990 and, once again, the results were short of the 75 percent needed to override the constitutional ban on nuclear substances.


To today's visitor (and even to military intelligence specialists in 1944), at a distance, Bliliou looks like a small, low, densely forested island with white sand beaches along its east and west sides. On the east, the beaches lay along a narrow ridge that separates the sea from extensive mangrove swamps and a salt water estuary that together comprise nearly a third of the island. Salt water crocodiles still haunt this swamp. The mangrove was, and remains, a wild place.

Figure 3. Peleliu 1944; Bliliou Today


White Beach and Orange Beach, where under devastating fire U. S. Marines landed in 1944.

White Beach and Orange Beach, where under devastating fire U. S. Marines landed in 1944. The airstrip is clearly visible inland from the beaches.

As it was in 1944, most of the island is now covered by native tropical rainforest growing on a level limestone plain (probably this plain represents a sea terrace level from older times). On this plain the Japanese had an excellent airfield; many traces remain of it and its main runway is still used -- although not maintained and being encroached by forest vegetation. Most of Bliliou lies within the wide barrier reef which forms the great lagoon of Palau. Bliliou anchors the south edge of the barrier reef and there, immediately near shore, the sea falls away quickly to great depths.

North of the airport lies a low ridge. A bit more than two miles long, scarcely a half mile across at its widest, and at its highest only 250 feet above sea level, it is unimposing. Tropical forest subdues its surface relief. It too is limestone, a karst topography, deposited as coral reefs and later exposed a few hundred feet by receding sea levels or uplifted land areas. This type of limestone topography is typically laced with caves, grottos, crevices, and cracks. In 1944, hidden below jungle foliage and underground, Japanese defenders had interconnected these with man-made tunnels and fortifications. Before September 1944, maps that bothered named the ridge Umurbrogol or Umurbrogol Mountain. Maps today identify it as Bloody Nose Ridge.

Today, the island, only slightly different from its appearance in 1944, has retained a remarkable degree of historic integrity -- perhaps more than any of the other battle sites of the Pacific campaign of World War II. Small portions of the former battleground are being used to grow taro, as well as family patches of cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas, papayas, and squash. But most of it remains unused and untouched since the G.I.'s pulled out more than four decades ago.

Bliliou, described as resembling a lobster claw, covers about 4.5 square miles (about 2,900 acres), excluding mangrove swamp (about 1,200 acres). As noted, most of the island is covered by a dense tropical forest which is almost entirely second growth, since the World War II battle destroyed much of the vegetation. A typhoon which hit the island in the 1960's also did some damage to the vegetation.

The village of Kloulkubed, at the northern end of Bliliou The village of Kloulkubed, at the northern end of Bliliou, is now where nearly all of the people live on the island.

The population of Bliliou has decreased over the past two to three decades. In 1958 there were about 680 residents, in 1973 there were about 655, and in 1980 about 600. The present resident population is about 400. However, there are about 1,600 other individuals living elsewhere who claim Bliliou as their residence. Most residents engage in subsistence farming and fishing.

Although Bliliou is still divided into five traditional villages each headed up by a chief, the lands which these villages encompass are today uninhabited. The existing settlements are confined to the northern tip of the island in the communities of Kloulklubed and Imelechol. The school, government offices, a meeting hall, and small grocery stores are all located in Kloulkubed. North of Kloulkubed is Elochel dock, used by the interisland ferry, the Peleliu Queen, and fishing boats.

During World War II, when the entire island was being fortified by the Japanese, all residents were evacuated and moved to Babeldoab or Oreor for resettlement. Following the war the Bliliouans returned, resettling in the north rather than back on the old village sites. These sites had either been destroyed or pre-empted for other uses by the U. S. military. Even though the U. S. military left long ago, these parts of the island remain in open space; existing land uses consist of agriculture, mostly taro, an airport runway, a water catchment, cemeteries (mainly war dead), World War II memorials and bai, stylized structures traditionally used by Palauan chiefs as meeting places. For the most part, Bliliouans allow common use of these open lands. Land records for Bliliou, however, show that the southern and central parts of the island (see Figure 4) have been divided into homesteads by various clans. These homesteads, filed more than two decades ago, were settlements for World War II land claims.

World War II and the 1944 battle are more than just memories for most residents of Bliliou. There are many tangible reminders of that time. Remnants of that period are not confined to just the battlefield. Today, in the kitchens of many Bliliouan homes there are U. S. military cooking pots, stainless steel mess trays, and flatware -- all still in use. The Marston mat, originally put down by the U. S. Navy Seabees as runway surface, is now used to make benches, fences, and pigpens. Airplane propellers, bomb casings, and steel helmets are placed in front yards for decorative purposes. Propeller blades are also used as grave markers. The U. S. cemetery, even though no longer containing the graves of marines and soldiers, has been well maintained by the island residents.

In 1984, the USS PELELIU, a large, amphibious assault ship, visited the island, bringing several American veterans of the World War II battle. The three-day visit was marked with ceremonies commemorating the battle, including the dedication of a monument to the First Marine Division and tours of the battle sites. Nearly all of the residents of Bliliou attended and the governor indicated that he hoped the visit would bring other tourists to the island to visit its World War II historic sites.

Members of Japanese World War II veteran groups have visited Bliliou several times since the war's end, usually for the purpose of holding memorial services for dead comrades or to visit old battle sites. Also, Japanese who lost family members during the battle come to pay their respect and sometimes to try to recover the remains of the lost relative.

World War II vintage propeller is displayed in the front yard of a home in Kloulkubed This World War II vintage propeller is displayed in the front yard of a home in Kloulkubed.


Figure 4. Land Tenure

Consultation and Coordination

During the week of September 29 - October 3, 1986, when the NPS study team visited Bliliou to field check the World War II sites and features, several meetings were held with island residents. These meetings had several purposes: one was to acquaint Bliliouans with the concept of a historical park, another was to explore a range of options for administering such a park, and also to hear directly from the residents which of the World War II sites on Bliliou they felt to be the most important and thereby considered worthy of being included within a historical park.

Each of the meetings was attended by a distinct and important segment of the residents of Bliliou. At each meeting Mr. Moses Sam, historic preservation officer for the Republic of Palau, acted as both moderator and facilitator. Also attending each of the meetings was Mr. Kulas Sngebau, chairman of the historic preservation committee for Bliliou.

The first meeting consisted of the chiefs, elders, and young men of Bliliou. Eighteen to 20 individuals attended. The next meeting was held for the women's club of Bliliou, the Tatiron. At this meeting 38 individuals were in attendance. Both of these meetings were held to introduce the National Park Service team members to the community, to familiarize the attendees with the purpose of the World War II additional sites study requested by Congress, to briefly discuss a possible range of options for the scope and extent of a historical park on Bliliou and who conceivably could be the administering agency, and lastly, to invite the attendees and residents of Bliliou to participate with questions, concerns, comments, and general reactions to the historical park study.

Palauan historic preservation officials, Moses Sam and Kulas Sngeban Palauan historic preservation officials, Moses Sam and Kulas Sngeban, discuss the idea of a historical park on Bliliou at the site of the Japanese memorial near Scarlet Beach.


The next meeting was a working session with the chairman and members of Bliliou historic preservation committee. The purpose of this meeting was to ascertain the committee's priorities regarding the significance of the World War II sites and features found on the island. The committee agreed with the National Park Service suggestion to consider only those sites and features which were directly related to the actual battle for Bliliou. From the NPS list of more than 150, 15 sites or features, both American and Japanese, were identified and prioritized by the committee as worthy of protection and inclusion within a historical park.

The final meeting was held with the six members of the Bliliou council of chiefs, including the high chief, or Obak, of Bliliou. The purpose of this meeting was to obtain the endorsement of the traditional chiefs for the concept of a historical park on Bliliou whose area would encompass the fifteen sites or features previously selected by the historic preservation committee. The council of chiefs, after discussion, provided the study team with that endorsement.

World War II Relics on Bliliou

In the Pacific Campaign of World War II, Bliliou was one of many islands battles stretching from the Solomons to Okinawa. Yet, Bliliou was more than just another battle. If, on Bliliou, the battle for Bloody Nose Ridge had any distinct significance, perhaps it was the abrupt awareness both to the United States and Japan of how tenacious and tough was their foe. Likely only a very few of Japan's military leaders yet fully sensed the national resolve of the U. S. to push the war all the way to Tokyo. Certainly the U. S. was just beginning to fully comprehend the Japanese Code of Bushido that demanded each soldier, sailor, and marine defend every inch of every island to the death.

U. S. tacticians anticipated Bliliou as a quick, fierce battle to be completed in a few days. The Japanese figured to exact such a heavy toll from their hidden, impregnable defenses that the U. S. would have to withdraw those who survived. With the fall of Bliliou, after four months and 12,500 deaths, both views were wrong. Bliliou, like Tarawa, and other island battles foretold a fierce, bloody campaign to Japan via the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. Conceivably, the high casualty rates of these bitter island battles predicted eventual use of an atomic bomb by the U. S. to hasten the war's end. At Bloody Nose Ridge and nearby, there remains in place the greatest array of remnants and sites of one of these Pacific battles. The sites are easily accessible from Kloulkblubed village -- a few hours by boat or minutes by aircraft from Oreor.

The 1944 U. S. invasion and battle for Bliliou is described in an Appendix to this report. Basically, on Bliliou, the Japanese defenders had changed their tactics of defending the beaches to a more sophisticated defense. The new concept departed from the tactics employed earlier in the Pacific war which called for attempting to annihilate the invaders on the beach. At Bliliou, tactics called for the preparation of a main line of resistance far enough from the beach to minimize the effects of the pre?invasion bombardment, the organizing of a defense in?depth designed to wear down the attacking forces, and the maintaining of sufficient reserves to mount counterattacks at the appropriate times. Bliliou's rugged terrain, principally the high ground of the Umurbrogol, pocketed with fortified caves and crevices, was well-suited to the employment of these new tactics.

Bliliou was different in other respects too; it was as tough and tragic as any of the other Pacific island battles, maybe more so. Of the 19 Medals of Honor won by members of the First Marine Division for all actions in the Pacific (Guadalcanal, New Britain, Bliliou, and Okinawa), eight were awarded on Bliliou. The 1st Marines (regiment) in eight days of fighting sustained 1,672 casualties, amounting to more than a 60 percent casualty rate. These were the most severe losses suffered by any Marine unit in the Pacific war. And, of course, these losses were much less than those suffered by the Japanese defenders.

Marines, supported by Sherman tanks, move up Horseshoe Basin The Umurbrogol in 1944. Marines, supported by Sherman tanks, move up Horseshoe Basin along the pond. Five Brothers is on the left, Walt Ridge to the right, and Hill 140 in the center background.


high casualties among Marines of the 1st Regiment The first few days of continuous assault on fortified Japanese positions resulted in enormously high casualties among Marines of the 1st Regiment.


Unexploded World War II ordnance can still be seen on Bliliou
Unexploded World War II ordnance can still be seen on Bliliou -- this artillery shell was found near the northern end of White Beach.


a First Marine Division veteran had inscribed on his rifle butt, "South Pacific, 1944, Guadalcanal." Found of Bliliou -- a First Marine Division veteran had inscribed on his rifle butt, "South Pacific, 1944, Guadalcanal."


painting, by the famous World War II artist and correspondent, Tom Lea

This painting, by the famous World War II artist and correspondent, Tom Lea, shows the last rites being administered by a chaplain to one of the more than 1,000 U.S. Marines who died on Bliliou. In his book, Peleliu Landing, Lea wrote the following moving account of the scene: "The padre towered over the crouching figures like a plaster saint with canteens and a Bible. Amid the frenzy, the wreakage and snipers' bullets, he looked very lonely, very close to God as he intoned his prayers over the shattered men."

Department of Defense.

Bliliou was perhaps important in another respect: it was one of the very first areas where segregation in the U. S. military broke down. On Bliliou, Blacks were fully accepted and played an important role in combat situations.

Table B and Figures 5 to 10 show all the sites and features remaining from the fighting and subsequent U. S. occupation of Bliliou that were inventoried and described for this study. Compiled by the NPS study team, they are based primarily on two sources, Peleliu: The Battle and Peleliu Today, by D. Colt Denfeld and Peleliu, Its Terrain and Defense, prepared by the Photographic Intelligence Unit of First Marine Division. The sites described in these reports were field checked in September and October 1986.

The Denfeld study was prepared in 1982 for the Historic Preservation Office, Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. It is in two parts: the first, a detailed historical narrative of the capture of Bliliou; and the second, the results of a field survey of World War II sites and features on Bliliou. Only a preliminary draft of this study was located, despite considerable efforts to secure a final version. The preliminary draft did not contain maps or illustrations.

The Denfeld field survey of Bliliou, began in August 1981 and extending over a 35-day period, describes and generally locates existing World War II sites (features, structures, and objects), Japanese and American, on the island. The survey is comprehensive and forms nearly all of the resource base for this study. It was also utilized by the National Park Service during the preparation of the earlier landmark theme study.

The Marine Corps report, prepared immediately after the battle, was developed from captured Japanese maps, POW interrogation reports, the First Marine Division's Special Action Report, and from on-the-ground reconnaissance. The report contains sketch maps which show the number and location of the various Japanese weapons and installations located during the ground reconnaissance.

Site 19d Site 19d. Despite being overgrown with tropical vegetation, this round four-gun Japanese blockhouse located in the vicinity of Scarlet Beach remains in excellent condition.


site 27d A camouflaged pillbox is located on the promontory at the northern end of White Beach and is one of several defensive positions sited here by the Japanese to provide enfilade fire across the invasion beach. It has been identified as site 27d.


Japanese light tank, late afternoon of D-day This photo was taken near the Japanese airfield. Most of the tanks involved in the Japanese counterattack of the late afternoon of D-day were stopped by the heavier firepower of the Sherman, as well as by bazookas and grenade launchers.


Site number 23d, a Japanese light tank Site number 23d, a Japanese light tank has probably not been moved from the spot where it was originally disabled by anti-tank fire that repulsed the Japanese counterattack of D-day.


Aerial bombing, artillery fire, and shelling by ships offshore virtually destroyed the vegetation on Bloody Nose Ridge Aerial bombing, artillery fire, and shelling by ships offshore virtually destroyed the vegetation on Bloody Nose Ridge and exposed its steep, fissured, razor-sharp topography.


This well-known Tom Lea painting depicts what came to be known on Bliliou as the "thousand yard stare."

This well-known Tom Lea painting depicts what came to be known on Bliliou as the "thousand yard stare." After weeks of prolonged and intense fighting against a tenacious and well dug-in enemy on Bloody Nose Ridge, the bone weary Marrines took on the look.

Department of Defense


Marines advancing on the Japanese airfield Marines advancing on the Japanese airfield. The air headquarters building is in the background, its roof showing the damage done to it by aerial and naval bombardment.


air headquarters building today. The air headquarters building today. On the first floor of the substantial two-story concrete structure the walls are nearly two feet thick. Vegetation has grown up in and around the building. It has been identified as site 61d.


officials consult maps to field check locations of World War II sites and features on Bliliou National Park Service and Palauan officials consult maps to field check locations of World War II sites and features on Bliliou.


U. S. LVT(A)4, site 86d The U. S. LVT(A)4, site 86d, was an armored version of the standard troop and/or cargo carrying amphibious vehicle. The mounted short-barreled gun was taken from the M8 self-propelled howitzer.


LVT, site 85d This LVT, site 85d, was equipped with additional armor and a turret and 37 mm gun from a light tank


Japanese 200 mm anti-boat gun, site 90d This Japanese 200 mm anti-boat gun, site 90d, is at its original location in a man-made cave and remains in good condition.


This document also contains the general location of the hundreds of caves occupied by the Japanese defenders.

Based on the sites identified in the two above described reports, the NPS study team prepared a preliminary comprehensive listing. Containing a brief description, the general location, and a relative significance of each site, the list was utilized to ground check sites during the September-October 1986 visit to Bliliou. During that visit, an additional historical object of significance was located and identified: a U. S. TBM or TBF "Avenger" torpedo-bomber.

Table B.  Remaining Sites and Features - 1944 Invasion and Capture of Bliliou

These sites have been prioritized by the National Park Service. This prioritization was based primarily on the sites' particular importance to the actual battle which took place on Bliliou from September 15 to November 27, 1944. The first six sites -- Five Sisters, China Wall, Horseshoe Basin, Wildcat Bowl, Five Brothers, and Walt Ridge -- are all topographic features, limestone ridges or ravines, named by the U. S. marines and soldiers who fought here and got to know each one intimately (see Figure 11). Collectively, they were known then as the Umurbrogol Pocket, now, more commonly, as Bloody Nose Ridge. This area was the focal point of the fighting on Bliliou; where the Japanese resistance was fiercest and where there is still considerable physical evidence of the battle, including about 100 identified individual cave sites, most of which are still sealed, that were occupied by the defending Japanese troops. The sealed caves were not explored during the NPS field survey and remain largely unknown entities.

early morning hours of September 15, 1944, landed on Orange Beach 3 The 7th Marines, in the early morning hours of September 15, 1944, landed on Orange Beach 3.


Orange Beach 3 at low tide, as it looks today The site of Orange Beach 3 at low tide, as it looks today.


TBF or TBM "Avenger" torpedo-bomber After crashing in the mangrove forest of Bliliou, this TBF or TBM "Avenger" torpedo-bomber was forgotten until located by Palauan historic preservation officials in 1986. It is listed as site 159.


"last command post" One of the few Japanese built caves on Bliliou open and accessible. Local residents refer to it as the "last command post" and it has been identified as site 164.


The next ten or so sites listed include White Beach and Orange Beach. It was here, on portions of these two invasion beaches, that the U. S. Marines, when landing, encountered the strongest resistance and took the heaviest casualties; it is also where, mostly along White Beach, there are still many Japanese pill boxes and casemates in existence; moreover, the scene along both these beaches is relatively unchanged from its appearance in 1944. The remaining high priority sites consist mostly of pieces of large military equipment, both American and Japanese, which played a direct role in the 1944 battle for Bliliou.

World War II historic sites on Bliliou have also been prioritized by the Bliliou historic preservation committee. The committee too felt that Bloody Nose Ridge and White Beach were important historic resources and afforded these two areas their highest priority. In addition, the committee felt that the large Japanese cave southwest of Bloody Nose Ridge (Site 164) which is open and accessible was an important historic site. Other sites judged to be important by the committee include Scarlet Beach, Orange Beach, the American Cemetery, the U. S. Navy "Avenger" torpedo?bomber and the two U. S. amphibious tractors located northwest of the airport runway.

The list also contains sites on Bliliou which were not directly related to the World War II battle. Many of these were constructed by the U. S. military long after the fighting had ceased. They include the remains of quonset huts, concrete building pads, and water tanks. Others, consisting of air raid shelters, fuel storage bunkers, and barracks, were built by the Japanese, but are located where no actual fighting took place or within the confines of present day Kloulklubed village. These sites (objects, structures, ruins, or features) were not given a priority in terms of their historic significance and their need for additional protection.

Figure 5. Remaining sites and features, 1944 Invasion & Capture of Bliliou

Figure 6. Detail 1. Scarlet Beach

Figure 7. Detail 2. Purple Beach

Figure 8. Detail 3. Amber Beach

Figure 9. Detail 4. Amber Beach & Bloody Nose Ridge

Figure 10. Detail 5. White and Orange Beaches

Figure 11. Bloody Nose Ridge

Natural Resources on Bliliou

Bliliou's soils were basically formed from the residue of coral limestone. Consequently, they are shallow, porous, and well-drained and poorly suited to most types of crop production. In the uplands of Bliliou the coral limestone is exposed in rock outcrops and characterized by vertical cliffs rising up to 100 feet above the lagoon. In the intertidal zone next to the shoreline, soils have formed in decomposing mangrove roots and litter over a coral sand and gravel base. The habitat here is diverse and includes a rich variety of plants and animals.

Although the 1944 battle left substantial portions of Bliliou's tropical forest portions nearly bare, the U. S. subsequently made no soil stabilization effort by spreading seeds of erosion resistant alien plants. And so, regrowth has been almost entirely native plants now forming a 45-year-old secondary native forest. The mangrove areas of Bliliou were mostly untouched by the battle; consequently, this swamp is unimpaired.

In June 1987, the U. S. Forest Service published, "Vegetation Survey of the Republic of Palau." The survey was based on photography taken in 1976 and field checked for accuracy in 1985. For mapping purposes, the islands of Palau were divided into four major land classes: forest, secondary vegetation, agroforest, and nonforest. Nearly all of Bliliou is covered in forest and consists of four of the eight types identified by the U. S. Forest Service for Palau: limestone forest, mangrove forest, Casuarina forest, and swamp forest.

The limestone forest is the dominant vegetation type found on Bliliou. Native limestone forest once covered nearly all of the island. The less disturbed limestone forest now occurs in the uplands of northern Bliliou. On other parts of the island, the growth is mostly secondary. The limestone forest habitat supports both scrubby and tall trees, sometimes growing out of bare rock. Much of the forest has a secondary vegetation understory. The humus from decaying leaves and other debris provide the necessary nutrients. Species commonly found in the limestone forest include Intsia bijuga, Psychotria spp., and Clerondendrum inerme.

The mangrove forests on Bliliou are mostly composed of medium-sized trees, smaller and less dense than those found on the large island of Babeldaob. Generally, Souneratia alba and Rhizophora mucronata dominate on the seaward side of the forest. On the landward side, the species mix may include Lumnitzera literea and Xylocarpus granatum. As in other areas, the mangrove forests here serve as a natural filtering and nutrient buffering system between the island and the waters of the lagoon, settling silt and providing a steady release of nutrients into the lagoon. Mangrove forest also provides important habitat for birds and fruit bats and serve as fish spawning grounds.

Along the western and eastern coast of Bliliou, dense stands of Casuarina litorea trees are found. These areas are not well-developed forest communities, however, and are usually a component of other secondary vegetation types or atoll forest. In the interior of the island in the vicinity of the landing strip, the secondary vegetation type is mostly Hibiscus.

A remnant swamp forest occurs on Bliliou on the east side just inland of the mangrove forest. Species common to this wet area include Barringtonia racemosa and Terminalia catappa.

Altogether the four types of areas vegetated with live trees -- limestone forest, mangrove forest, Casuarina forest, and swamp forest -- account for about 85 percent of the island of Bliliou. The remaining 15 percent consists of secondary vegetation, marshlands, developed areas, croplands, and water bodies.

The secondary vegetation on Bliliou consists of areas of fast-growing small trees, shrubs, and vines growing in recently disturbed areas. These areas are usually former planted areas now lying fallow. The most common secondary vegetation species found on Bliliou are Macaranga carolinensis and the native limestone species, Timonius timon.

The marshes on Bliliou are both freshwater and saline. The saltwater marshes are dominated by herbaceous vegetation and the freshwater areas by grasses, sedges, and herbs. Some of the freshwater marshes are being cultivated for taro.

Table C.   Plant Communities of Bliliou.

The developed areas consists primarily of buildings and roads which make up the village of Kloulklubed, the landing strip and the adjacent reservoir. Crop lands are mostly found in the north next to the village and sometimes contain small structures. The water areas consist of both freshwater and saline pools scattered throughout the island.

Figure 12 shows the patterns of vegetation and land use on Bliliou based on the Forest Service survey. During the National Park Service survey of World War II sites in 1986, nearly all of the island was covered. Observations made at that time relative to vegetation and land use made it appear that, with minor exceptions, the Forest Service survey is still valid and essentially correct. The only changes noted by the Park Service are those showing additional areas which appeared at that time to be under cultivation.

Figure 12. Land Use and Vegetation

Thirty-nine species of native birds have been recorded on Bliliou (Engbring, 1988). Of these, 30 are land or wetland species and 9 are seabirds. There are also several migrant species there for part of the year. Seven of the land species are endemic to Palau. A single species, the Micronesian Megapode, has been listed as endangered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Two of the endangered species are endemics. The Gray Duck and the Common Moorhen, both found on Bliliou, are thought to be the rarest birds in Palau. As shown on Table D, the great majority of the resident bird species are either "common" or "abundant" and nearly all of the migrants are "common." If native bird life is an indication of the integrity of native ecosystems, Bliliou's are superb. Overall, Palauan ecosystems are well represented on Bliliou.

Table D. Birds of Bliliou


Bliliou National Historic Landmark

The national significance of the World War II battle for the island of Bliliou is documented in the "significance" section of the nomination form for the Peleliu Battlefield National Historic Landmark and is included as an Appendix to this report. The National Park System Advisory Board, after consideration, approved and recommended landmark status. On February 4, 1985, the Secretary of the Interior officially designated the Bliliou site as a national historic landmark. The designation attests not only to the site's significance, but also to its integrity. The landmark plaque has been mounted and is now displayed in a prominent place in the village of Kloulklubed.

The entire island of Bliliou was included in the recommendation for nomination as a national historic landmark, except for the area encompassed by the two villages, Kloulklubed and Imelechol, at the northern end of the island. The nomination also stated that the remnants of post-battle American installations, such as concrete slabs, quonset huts, etc., were not considered to be historically significant. No specific landmark boundary was established at the time of nomination because of the lack of National Park Service knowledge then of land tenure and ownership patterns on Bliliou.

Due to landmark designation, it is now important that specific landmark boundaries be defined in order to provide a clear delineation of the amount of land involved. It is recommended that exact national historic landmark boundaries now be drawn to include those lands shown on Figure 13. These boundaries were drawn so as to include only those portions of Bliliou which contain sites that are directly related to the actual World War II battle. The total area recommended to be included within the national historic landmark boundaries takes in about 2,800 acres. A little more than 1,300 acres is land, the rest is about two?thirds offshore waters and one-third mangrove swamp.

Historical Park - Area Options

The following areas all contain sites and features important to the 1944 battle for Bliliou and have been judged by the NPS study team and the Bliliou historic preservation committee to be worthy of being included within a historical park. Both the team and the committee agreed that the overall objective of such a park was to preserve these sites and features. Establishment of a historical park to manage, protect, interpret, and make these sites accessible to visitors is regarded as the logical and most appropriate way to achieve this objective.

Boundaries for the historical park could be configured in three ways, depending on the extent of the area to be included within.

Figure 13. Recommended National Historic Landmark Boundary

These three areas collectively contain the remaining topographic -- ridges, ravines, and beaches -- and man-made -- caves, directly associated with the 1944 battle for Bliliou. Except for the small area at the northern end of the island containing the Japanese 1000-man cave, the suggested historical park boundaries coincide with those boundaries recommended for the national historic landmark. The cave, although important, is but a single site separated from the other sites and features by a sizeable distance, thereby making park management difficult. Landmark designation was judged to be adequate protection to that sites' historic value.

Although changed since the battle -- the jagged limestone ridges then exposed by heavy guns, bombs, and napalm are now covered by second?growth tropical vegetation -- these areas even today still evoke a strong feeling of the terrible events concrete structures, and military equipment -- features of historic significance, all which took place there during the months of September, October, and November 1944. As noted, a remarkable degree of site integrity remains. Because of this site integrity, Bliliou offers perhaps the best opportunity to interpret for visitors a World War II Pacific island battle.

Suggested boundaries have been delineated to include nearly all of the remaining sites and features important to the battle. Some of the large pieces of military equipment have been moved for display or other purposes and their present location should not be considered permanent. All other sites, features, structures, and objects should be protected and preserved on-site.

Some of the second growth tropical vegetation will require cutting back at select sites to allow visitors to view and gain access to important historic sites and features. However, there should be no attempt to recreate the historic scene as it appeared during the 1944 battle. To attempt this would mean stripping away extensive amounts of the existing vegetation to expose the craggy limestone ridges of the Umurbrogol Pocket. This would be irresponsible park management -- literally recreating conditions that would lead to erosion and other man?made landscape scarring.

the plaque for the Peleliu Battlefield National Historic Landmark Displayed prominently in the village of Kloulkubed is the plaque for the Peleliu Battlefield National Historic Landmark. It reads: "This site possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America."

Three areas are discussed in terms of their significance to the park's historic theme, the presence (or lack) of existing non?park land uses, and visitor accessibility. Each is described in the order of their importance.

Area 1: Encompasses a total of about 1,370 acres, 850 acres of land, 120 acres of mangrove swamp and 400 acres of offshore waters. Contains all of Bloody Nose Ridge. The caves found along Bloody Nose Ridge, some natural and some phosphate mined, were improved and fortified by the Japanese defenders. More than 100 caves or cave entrances were located here by U. S. Marine intelligence; about half of these were sealed or destroyed. It was here at Bloody Nose Ridge where the U. S. marines and infantry encountered the strongest resistance from the Japanese defenders and where some of the most prolonged fighting of the entire Central Pacific drive took place. This long, precipitous ridge, Bliliou's most prominent topographic feature, is considered to be the single most important part of any historical park proposal. The area contains numerous topographic features, each of which played a distinct role in the 41-day battle.

Six of the ridge's topographic features -- Five Sisters, China Wall, Horseshoe Basin, Wildcat Bowl, Five Brothers, and Walt Ridge -- were afforded the highest priority for preservation by the NPS study team. The historic preservation committee also gave the entire Bloody Nose Ridge area their highest priority.

This area also contains the two most important invasion beaches, White and Orange. White Beach was where the 1st Marines (Regiment) engaged in the toughest fighting as they tried to get ashore -- first underwater obstacles, then mutually defended, heavily fortified concrete pillboxes set in along the coral ridge manned by determined Japanese defenders. Also contains the greatest extent, variety and number of sites, features, and objects related to the park's historical theme. Moreover, competing land uses are non-existent, other than small agricultural plots, mostly taro. The area also contains a road running along the western side of Bloody Nose Ridge providing easy access for park visitors from the village of Kloulklubed. This area is considered to be integral to any historical park on Bliliou -- the minimum area required in order to have a viable park. Without this area in its entirety, the criterion of suitability could not be met. Table E lists those sites and features remaining from the World War II battle for Bliliou which are located within Area 1.

Table E. List of Remaining Sites and Ruins - Located within Suggested Historical Park Boundary (Area 1)

Area 2: Encompasses a total of about 745 acres, 240 acres of land, 30 acres of mangrove swamp, and 475 acres of offshore waters. Adding this area to the park would mean including Scarlet Beach, portions of which are referred to as Bloody Beach by the residents, which the historic preservation committee judged to be important. This area contains several features, mostly Japanese defensive positions, the most important being a well-preserved round blockhouse, the only one of its kind on Bliliou. Table F lists those sites and features remaining from the World War II battle for Bliliou which are located within Area 2.

Table F.  List of Remaining Sites and Ruins Located within Suggested Historical Park Boundary (Unit 2)

Area 3: Encompasses a total of 660 acres, 220 acres of land, 300 acres of mangrove forest, and 140 acres of offshore waters. Contains Purple Beach, which was identified as a beachhead, but no actual landings by the U. S. Marines took place here. Historic sites within this area are also mostly Japanese defensive positions. There are also several structures, all associated with the Japanese radio direction?finding facilities, located at Lademisang. Two of these structures are presently being utilized, one of them as a place of residence.

Table G.  List of Remaining Sites and Ruins Located within Suggested Historical Park Boundary (Unit 3)


Bloody Nose Ridge monument, site 84d Bloody Nose Ridge monument, site 84d, was erected by the 323rd Regiment of the U.S. Army's 81st Infantry Division and dedicated to Americans who died during the battle for the island.

The establishment of a historical park on Bliliou encompassing all of the above described areas would have minimum impact on existing land uses. None of the resident population would be affected, except for the elderly chief who resides alone in Lademisang (Site 100d). As noted, all other island residents currently live on the northern end of the island in the villages of Kloulkubed and Imelechol. Also, most of the lands being proposed for a historical park consist of limestone ridges and ravines or coral and sand beaches ?? none of these areas being suitable for agricultural, commercial, or residential purposes. However, those areas now in use for agricultural purposes, mostly the growing of taro, may not necessarily be incompatible with an historical park.

Table H.  List of Remaining Sites and Ruins - Located Outside of Suggested Historical Park Boundary

Management Plan - Bliliou Historical Park

Park Purpose: To protect, preserve, and interpret the significant historic objects, sites, and features, as well as historic values, associated with the park.

Park Manager: Shall act to perpetuate unimpaired the cultural resources of the park; to prevent adverse effects on these resources from non-park development, from visitor use, or resource management activities; and to prevent vandalism or unauthorized excavation, collection, or appropriation of cultural resources. Shall provide for visitor enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of park resources and values -- but not at the expense or impairment of those resources and values -- and for visitor protection and safety.

Figure 14. Historical Park Area Options


American military cemetery, site 17d The American military cemetery, site 17d, contains two stone obelisks at each end, with bronze plaques dedicated to American war dead.

Park Management Objectives:

1. Preserve, protect, and manage the important historic resources of the park to ensure the continuation of the setting with sufficient historic integrity to interpret for visitors the World War II battle for Bliliou.

2. Provide park visitors with adequate facilities: (a) to interpret the historic resources; (b) for safety and comfort; and (c) for access to important sites, features, and viewpoints.

3. Develop a park interpretive program to foster an understanding of the reasons for the World War II battle for Bliliou, both from the American and Japanese standpoints. Develop a companion interpretive program to promote an understanding of the effect which the World War II battle for Bliliou had on Palauans, in particular on the residents of Bliliou.

4.Develop and present a park interpretive program in a historically accurate, objective, and unbiased manner.

5.Cooperate and coordinate with the U. S. National Park Service in providing training and professional and technical assistance for park planning and operation.

6.Develop and maintain contacts with appropriate Japanese interests and/or organizations who may be interested in some type of memorialization of their war dead on the island of Bliliou.

7.Maintain a close relationship and spirit of cooperation with the Obak of Bliliou and the council of chiefs.

8.Coordinate and consult with the chairman of the historic preservation committee for Bliliou.

9. Establish and maintain contact with the Office of Visitors Authority on Oreor.


Access to the island of Bliliou and the historical park area from Oreor is either via the interisland ferry boat or by light airplane. Both these services are available on a regular basis. However, very few people come to Bliliou by air. Nearly all of the residents and most visitors utilize the boat. The trip to and from Oreor takes less than one hour and is an extremely enjoyable boat ride through the spectacularly scenic Rock Islands. The boat dock is located at the northern end of Kloulklubed village; aircraft set down on the old World War II landing strip at the southern end of the island.

Bliliou's main road runs along the west side of the island from the villages in the north down to the landing strip and beyond. Numerous secondary roads lace the southern portion of the island. There are no hotels on Bliliou; however, arrangements for overnight lodging and meals can be made at a few of the homes in the village of Kloulklubed.

It is suggested that visitor use facilities for an historical park be developed primarily at the village and secondarily near the landing strip. The Kloulklubed village site is where visitor orientation, interpretation, and information should be provided. It should also be the site for park administration and maintenance. Facilities needed here consist of a visitor information/park headquarters building, restrooms, and a small museum containing exhibits. The World War II Japanese radio station (114d) located in the village should be considered for adaptive use as a museum or headquarters building. Development at the landing strip site, located at the southern end, should consist of a small shelter containing exhibits and restrooms. Facilities are needed to house the park maintenance operation -- either an existing structure (if available and suitable) would have to be found or a new one constructed.

No road or trail construction is needed. The main road from the village to the suggested historical park is suitable as a park road in its present condition. The existing secondary roads within the proposed park near the southern end of Bloody Nose Ridge and in the vicinity of the landing strip should be maintained in their present condition and not improved. Those roads that presently serve no useful park purpose should be abandoned.

Wayside exhibits should be constructed at the southern base of Bloody Nose Ridge (Five Sisters) where the existing stairway leads up to the monument at the top. Waysides are needed nearby at the entrance to Horseshoe Basin and at the northern end of White Beach. These waysides would interpret particular aspects of the battle. Wayside exhibits should also be set up next to some of the more important pieces of military equipment and structures, such as the Japanese 200 mm anti-boat gun (90d), the American "Avenger" torpedo-bomber (159), the Japanese round blockhouse (19d), and the Japanese headquarters building (61d). Access to the torpedo-bomber should be by guide only. An elevated walkway to the wreck could be constructed over the mangrove swamp with a small wayside at the terminus. Other large pieces of military equipment (e.g., 86d, 87d, and 88d) have likely been moved since the battle, some probably for display purposes, and are not considered to be on-site. These can be interpreted, either singly or as a group, with waysides, once an appropriate location is determined.

No overnight camping facilities should be developed within the historical park. Development within the park would be for day-use only. It is assumed that any overnight lodging and meals needed to accommodate park visitors would be provided by the nearby villages and private enterprise.

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