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12 March 2015


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Looks like LVT with a 75mm howitzer.


An LVT(A)-5 Amtank.

no one

I believe the vehicle is a modified Amtrack - with a howitzer mounted. It would be able to debark an LST and make an amphibious assault.

no one

correction: meant to say "amtrac" not "amtrack". Also, I think that might be a painting and not a photo.


One of the Amtracks they used in the Pacific. It could crawl over the reefs that hung up Higgins craft. They fitted some with turreted, short barreled cannon.


Concur, and the painting is the famed "Two-Thousand Yard Stare" painted by Tom Lea- and it is Peleiu.




Tidewater agreeing with Kao_hsien_chih,

After rummaging around on the internet a bit, I feel sure that it is an LVT(A)4 mounted with an M2/M3 short barrel howitzer. I noticed what seemed to me to be distinctive narrow treads. It was used for infantry support, but later "was found to excel at indirect artillery fire." I would guess that the reason Tom Lea put it in his famous painting, "The Two Thousand Yard" stare" is because it is an icon of the island hopping Pacific war. The work did come out of Lea's experience on Peleliu. I thought at first it might be a flame tank, and it turns out that some were mounted with a 'USN Mark I flame thrower.'

The artist, Tom Lea, was a Texas painter and is very big there. Maybe in the El Paso area there is a musuem. He would be considered a Southwestern painter (and writer!) and a good deal of his work is not at all like his work as a war artist.


Some context for this painting:

The background is “Bloody Nose Ridge” site of some of the worst fighting on Peleliu.

Tom Lea’s notes (as quoted in the July 11,1945 issue of Life magazine article presenting Lea’s Peleliu painting) on this person’s story state that: “Last evening he came down out of the hills. Told to get some sleep, he found a shell crater and slumped into it. He’s awake now. First light has given his gray face eerie color. He left the states 31 months ago. He was wounded in his first campaign. He has had tropical diseases. There is no food or water in the hills except what you carry. He half sleeps at night and gouges japs out of holes all day. Two thirds of his company has been killed or wounded be he is still standing. So he will return to attack this morning. How much can a human being endure?”

Anyone interested in understanding what this marine was going through should read “With the Old Breed”, by Eugene Sledge which is in my view by far the best Peleliu memoir.

That marines like this one had to endure (after the initial landing, a hell of it’s own) what was probably the most vicious marine battle in the pacific was largely due to ego-driven leadership failures of division commander general Rupertus (“Rupe the Dupe”, as not fondly nicknamed by his troops), regimental commander Chesty Puller and force commander General Geiger who realized early on that Rupertus should be relieved, but did not do so out of concern for Rupertus’s career.

nick b

Any chance the vehicle could have been an M8 75mm self propelled howitzer? The Army's 710th tank battalion had six of them in support of the Marines at Peleliu. It had the same turret as the LVTA4.

no one


In addition to the problem of Rupertus' hubris the campaign was exceptionally brutal because the Japanese employed a new (for them) tactic; defense in depth as opposed to banzai charges.

The Japanese had spent years digging caves and tunnel systems into the ridge systems. US aerial recon had the Marines believing that there was only one prominent ridge when, in reality, hidden beneath the jungle canopy, there was a series of ridges and valleys. Japanese defenses were set up such that as the Marines necessarily entered the valleys they were caught in killing boxes. A ridge would be taken and then it was back down into another valley with a yet higher ridge looming above.

Deep within the ridges, the Japanese were largely immune to artillery and mortar fire. As a result, the campaign was one of the first extensive uses of napalm. Even so, the Japanese still had to ultimately be destroyed cave by cave, spider hole by spider hole by riflemen exposing themselves to interlocking enemy fire. All in heat of 110 - 120 degrees (f).

Then there was the fanaticism of the Japanese who would fight to the death rather than surrender.


Nick b

The full painting (best seen in Life magazine) is clear that this is an LVT and not the M8.



That is an iteresting finding. I agree wtih both your and TTG's points on the Athenaeum.


I believe Tidewater called the vehicle correctly. And the painting is definitely by Lea:

"Down from Bloody Ridge Too Late. He's Finished--Washed Up--Gone --- As we passed sick bay, still in the shell hole, it was crowded with wounded, and somehow hushed in the evening light. I noticed a tattered Marine standing quietly by a corpsman, staring stiffly at nothing. His mind had crumbled in battle, his jaw hung, and his eyes were like two black empty holes in his head."

Caption by the artist, Tom Lea

Retired Brigadier General Gale wrote a commemorative article on it 20 years ago on the 50th anniversary.


nick b


Thanks. It was just a WAG.

nick b


The Col. posted in February about the Center of Military History at Ft. Belvoir in Virginia. The article actually shows Mr. Lea's painting housed there, among many. It is my hope that the Army Historical Foundation will be able to raise enough money that the Center will become a proper museum, and that one day I might see the painting in person. When I do, I will remember you.



nick b

it used to hang in the Pentagon in the corridor that led from the E Ring to the Medal of Honor memorial in the A Ring. I stopped to look at it often in five years in the mix-master. pl



Nobody seems to remember the role played by the 81st Division in bringing the fight for Peleliu to a victorious end. In fact the 1st Marine Division was once again pretty much destroyed on Peleliu because of the poor quality of the thinking in people like Rupertus and Puller. Rupertus knew that the 81st "Wildcat" Division had mopped up Angaur eight miles away and was sitting on the beach there listening to the chaos on Peleliu for a week or more while Puller's 1st Marine Regiment was largely destroyed. Rupertus refused to ask for Army help and was thus responsible for what happened. sadly the 1st Marine Division "The Old Breed," was four times wrecked in the Pacific war; 1 - Guadalcanal (their conduct after relief in Melbourne speaks for itself), 2 - New Gloucester, 3- Peleliu, 4- Okinawa. Those who knew them well have observed that the cadres of the division that fought on Okinawa were all pretty much destroyed emotionally by their previous experience. https://archive.org/details/gov.archives.arc.35883 pl

The Twisted Genius


It's not just the 81st Division that is often forgotten. In spite of what the Marines will tell you, the Army did the brunt of the work in that theater. The 25th Division became known as the Tropic Lightning Division for it's exploits on Guadalcanal. My old regiment, the 35th Infantry, figured prominently in those actions.



Col Lang -

I think I have read everything useful written about Peleliu and the role of the 81st division is I think well reflected in most of these works, as is the point that Rupertus (or Geiger) should have brought the 81st in much earlier - and ideally within a more rational battle plan.

I am not sure how well known it is that Sectary of State George Schultz was the marine liason officer with the 81st when they took Angaur and I believe thought highly of them.


no one

The fact that about 10,000 Japanese were manning the caves and tunnels and fought to the death (as I recall, something like 20 survived) was also a factor. Peleliu was at least a good wake up call for Okinawa



The record of the USMC's attitude towards the US Army in the Pacific is nothing they should be proud of. What they did to Ralph Smith says it all. pl

no one

Sir, It is true, of course, that the 81st div (Wildcats) finished the job on Peleliu. That is something Rupertus wanted to avoid, but ultimately had to occur. My impression is that the "Old Breed" did downplay the Army's role there.

My father fought on Okinawa (WIA) with the newly formed 6th division (the 4th, 5th and 6th divisions were formed to meet the needs of the Pacific war - after the war the USMC returned to 3 active divisions and one reserve division and have remained in that organizational structure ever since). There, the Marines came to resent the Army and were skeptical of its capabilities because the USMC were having it relatively easy in the North of the island, but were then moved South into brutal combat when the Army failed to achieve its objectives. I don't think it was a fair assessment of the Army given what they faced and given what the Marines subsequently experienced, but it seems to have stuck in at least a few Marine memories.


no one

As I have often written the USMC-US Army rivalry is a stupid and pernicious thing that should be suppressed. The USMC was a tiny naval infantry and base guard force for the US Navy before WW2. They had a difficult time raising a division for the attack on Guadalcanal in late 1942. The marines seem to suffer from a sort of "penis envy" with regard to the Army. IMO the USMC is grossly oversized for any sort of mission that would relate to the sea. USMC leadership understands that and is seeking a mission that will not make the marine corps a rival land mass army. They know that to be such would inevitably doom the marine corps to absorption in one larger national ground force. As TTG wrote the US Army was so vastly larger in WW2 than the the USMC's six divisions as to make comparison difficult considering the N. African, Italian and European campaigns and as TTG wrote the Army did most of the amphibious work all over the world including in the Pacific. pl


pl -

Agree that interservice rivalries are stupid and pernicious and should be slapped down by professionals. They are best left to teenage pfcs although pentagon budgeteers will probably never quit.

The article that I quoted above from Brigadier General Gale did not forget the role played by the 81st, especially the 321st RCT. Gale was a veteran of Puller's Regiment at Pelelieu and he does not attempt in any way to downplay the role of the Army. He gives them full credit.

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