The bodies of six soldiers, believed to be Japanese troops who fought in World War II, have been found in a reopened cave in the Pacific nation of Palau. Remains of six soldiers have been discovered so far, but that’s probably just the start.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports they were found in one of about 200 sealed caves on Peleliu and one of them was recently opened for the first time in nearly 70 years ahead of a visit this month by Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. An estimated 10,000 Japanese men were killed in a weeks-long battle with US troops during the war, and the bodies of 2,600 of them were never found. The Japanese used a network of caves and tunnels during the 1944 fighting. About 1,600 American troops were killed, but the US military blew up many of the caves (essentially sealing the Japanese within) and eventually gained control.
The six newly found bodies were found in the vicinity of an anti-tank gun, and “it’s my understanding that those were the crew, perhaps the officer and his men that were manning that gun,” says one of the search officials. The bodies found at the Palau site will be repatriated, and the cave has already been resealed.
Photograph: The first wave of LVTs moves toward the invasion beaches, passing through the inshore bombardment line of LCI gunboats. Cruisers and battleships are bombarding from the distance. The landing area is almost totally hidden in dust and smoke. Photographed from a USS Honolulu (CL-48) plane. (Credits: U.S. Navy)