World War II Pacific Island Territories: Fiji


Figure 1.--Fiji like much of the South Pacific was little touched by the outside world. Pearl Harbor changed that as a flood of Americans and American material descended on the island.

After the initial Japanese offensice following Pearl Harbor. Fiji to the southeast of the Solomons found itself along with New Caledonia and the New Hebredies (Vanuatu) on the front line of the Pacific War. Suva boasted one of the finest natural harbors in the South Pacific--3 miles wide and cutting 2 miles inland. The U.S. Navy chose Nandi Bay for its main advance naval base (JAMPUFF). The Army, Marine, and Navy rushed air, ground , and naval assetts to the island. Fiji bosted one of the few concrete air strips in the South Pacific and more were sooon under cinstruction. The Seebees arrived (June 1942). The New Zealanders participsted in the build up. Fiji thus became one of several targets of the Japanese FS Operation designed to seize the French and British South Pacific South Pacific islands east of Australia. This would have cut Australia and New Zealand off from America, the first step in conqueriung both Dominions. FS would have been the next Japanese Pacific offensive after they destroyed the American carriers at Midway. The ensuing Japanese Midway disaster (June 1942), however, significantly reduced the striking power of the Imperial Fleet. The American Pacific Fleet proved to have just enough naval power to prevent the Japanese from moving beyond the Solomons until new construction would fundamentally chsnge the balance of naval power. In addition, the United States garisoned the island with 10,000 well-equipped Marines. A Japanese invasion would not have faced the small. poorly equipped force they found on Wake and Guam immediately after Pearl Harbor. Fiji soldiers fought with the the Allies in the Pacific campaigns that followed. Fijian soldiers acquired a reputation in the difficult American Solomon Islands campaign. The United States and other Allied countries maintained military installations in Fiji during the war, but after the Solomons campaign, Fiji gradually became a remote rear area used for staging and logistics.






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Created: 3:52 AM 6/7/2010
Last updated: 3:52 AM 6/7/2010