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    New Caledonia  

New Caledonia is an idyllic French speaking archipelago, to the east of Australia. The island has staggering mountains, and the second largest coral barrier reef in the world.

  Capital city of the island
  Located near Nouméa
  Capital city of the island
  B-17 Wreck offshore
  Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery
  Airfield to the north-west of Noumea
  Located inland and north of Gomen Bay, POW camp

Vichy French Threat Investigated
Prewar, New Caledinia was a French colony with a Vichy French government. During late February 1942 the country was identified as a possible threat to Australia and a small force from the 2/3rd Independent Company (commando) led by Matheson who spoke French landed to ascertained their loyalties.

American Staging Area
Considered safe, New Caledonia became a major American Allied staging base and a ferry point for aircraft flying from Hawaii to Australia. On March 12, 1942 the first American troops arrived in New Caledonia. During its height, 40,000 American servicemen were based in New Caledonia, and also as a rest and hospital area for combat troops. As the war progressed, fewer came thru the island, as other more forward bases were established. The local people (Kanaks) were employed on the US bases observed relatively good relations and were paid real wages for the first time, one of the reasons the colony's status was changed to 'French overseas territory' post war.

Today
Close to two hundred thousand residents are an ethnic blend of Melanesian, European, Wallisian, Polynesian and Indonesian live there.

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Last Updated
February 4, 2017

 

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