Many are the horrors that soldiers went through during World War II. Most of the time, this can be mitigated by the fact that they were fighting the evil forces of Nazism or Totalitarianism.
But what if lives were wasted on a meaningless battle that really didn't have any effect on the outcome of the war?
One such instance would be the US invasion of Peleliu island in the Pacific Ocean. This battle was a meat-grinder for all involved, but especially for the 1st Marine Regiment which suffered catastrophic losses. Ultimately, while the battle would be won, the tactics involved have long been questioned. The necessity for the invasion has been as well.
Dick Camp (author of the wonderful book about the Najaf battle in 2004 in Iraq called City of the Dead) has written the story of the 1st Regiment's demise in Last Man Standing, a riveting account of the battle from these soldiers' perspectives. It's not a history of the battle itself, as Camp ends the book once the regiment has been withdrawn. But it is a testament to the courage of these Marines in a hopeless situation.
The book is extremely well-written, but be warned. Some of the pictures are a little graphic. Not bloody-graphic, but there are pictures of burned-out bodies of Japanese soldiers or dead Marines who had not been collected yet.
The rest of my review of the book is on Curled Up With a Good Book, and I encourage you to check it out for more information.
And if you like reading history books on World War II as much as I do, it's a must-read as well.