Micronesia, Palau, Peleliu


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For more photos by David McCampbell of SV Soggy Paws, visit their website by clicking here


The Team

David McCampbell of SV Soggy Paws and Kevin Shanley of SV Miss Behave joined Philip for a trip to Peleliu aboard the speedboat from Cleared Ground.

Anti Personnel Mines!

This cave really creeped Philip out. Kevin warned him to step carefully. There were three anti personnel mines here any one of which could have greatly modified the composition of our bodies.

Decaying Cordite

A cave within a cave where explosions had strewn rubble on a 20% unstable incline; bones, live grenades and two bombs.

Cave within a Cave

Highly traumatized bone fragments. Undoubtedly, there are more remains buried here along with dangerous unexploded munitions.

Airplane Canopy

The remains of this US (?) plane sits on the jungle floor.

One of Three Anti Personnel Mines

This mine blocked the path just inside the cave and was wedged between two rocks. Note the button in the center. Kevin asserted that it takes 3 lbs of pressure to set it off.

US Airplane Wing Portion

Philip found this on the jungle floor. Note the shrapnel damage.


We found these glass ampules in a shallow bowl deep inside a cave.

Battle Scene 1944

The terrain now looks considerably different than it did after intense shelling from off shore American vessels

More Remains

These bones (most likely Japanese) represent the remains of more than one individual and were found deep inside a cave.

Bottles, Other Debris

Many of the caves we explored had sake and beer bottles strewn on the floor as well as canteens, mess kits, rice bowls, etc.

Japanese Rice Bowl

Most of the rice bowls we found were broken.

Bowl and Spoons...

might have once contained someone's last meal.

Japanese Bullets, Grenades and Canteen

These were a common find.

Bullets under the Jungle Canopy

We found these along Bloody Nose Ridge where there were many defensive positions dug out by the Japanese

More Japanese Bullets

Found deep in a cave, these were the standard 7.7 mm rifle rounds used by the Japanese.

Cannon in a Cave...

was just inside a cave openihg and, from the damage on the outside, was probably neutralized by the Americans.

Cannon in a Cave

The same cannon but with a view from the cave's inside.

Cave Opening

We found several cave opening near this one on terrain that was generally flat and where you would not expect to find caves.

Massive Cave

This complex series of caves and cave opening sat high on a hill and faced west. Note the stalagtites.

Looking Out

A view from the inside of a cave to the outside. Many cave openings were narrow and difficult to enter. Not for the claustrophobics among us.

Way Deep Inside

With the Japanese flag, there was no doubt about who occupied this cave.

Clear Bottle

Not your typical sake bottle. We don't know what it might have contained.

Artillery Shell with Cordite Oozing Out

The explosive, cordite, degrades to nitro glycerin over time and is highly unstable. This one was found on a shifting hillside 30 feet inside a cave.

Finned Bomb

This bomb appeared to be for an airplane and we don't know why or how it got inside a cave.

Grenade on Ledge

This Japanese grenade was just sitting on a ledge 15 feet inside a cave just a hand throw away from the opening.

Japanese Grenade...

with the pin removed. We were careful not to touch any of the ordinance we found.

Grenade with Pin...

in place ready to arm and throw.

Multiple Grenades

There were nine of these Japanese grenades lined up in this cave.

US Helmet...

lying on the jungle floor along with other discarded junk.

Looking Down a Cannon's Maw

David of Soggy Paws took this great photo of the inside of a huge cannon that was placed just inside a large cave opening. Note the rifling.

Shelling Damage

American offshore warships shelled the Japanese command building. One shell penetrated an outside wall and then this inside one before continuing onward.


Most of the jungle we traveled through was denser than this one which was the path to Death Valley; as named by the Americans.

More Jungle

Philip and Kevin in the background.

Kevin with Cannon

Philip nearly stumbled over this cannon on exiting a cave. He had entered through a different cave opening. The cannon was mounted on a two-wheeled frame. Kevin leans on one wheel.

Eight Foot Long Bomb

We found this far inside a cave and assume it was a bomb.

Mortar Shells in Jungle...

neutralized by bomb clearing team.

More Mortar Shells

These were generally fired from a "knee" mortar that was deployed by a lone Japanese soldier.

Mortar Shells with Cordite Exposed

Just sitting on a rock slowly decaying...


These are explosives of some sort but we were never able to find out which type.

Munitions Storage

The New Zealand firm, Cleared Ground, has been hired by the Republic of Palau to identify and neutralize some of the ordinance. We learned that they only use visual detection and will not clear the ordinance in the hundreds of caves.

Another Jungle Path...

on Bloody Nose Ridge

Peleliu Ferry

This was the ferry we took from Koror to Peleliu. Fare was $7 for the 2 1/2 hour trip.

Philip at Cave

This gives you a sense of the size of this particular cave.

Dangerous Cave

This cave had high explosives and bones resting on an unstable incline of rock, sand and coral rubble.

Road to Bloody Nose Ridge

We found hundreds of spent Japanese bullets as well as numerous pieces of shrapnel along this road. Sobering to think the bullets were aimed at our marines.

Sake Bottle

These green bottles were littered along the cave floors.

US Sherman Tank

Reportedly, a video of this tank hitting a mine or artillery shell, and the ensuing battle of the marines against the defending Japanese soldiers, is on YouTube.


Many of the skeletal remains bore signs of high trauma.

Two Japanese Canteens

Many of the canteens we found were riddled with bullet holes.

US Hand Grenade

This grenade was the only US one we found, this just sitting in the jungle on a rock. Note that the pin and handle are missing. Maybe a dud?

US Helmet

From the damage to this helmet, it doesn't look like the marine wearing it would have survived.

Another US Helmet...

rusting outside in the jungle rain.