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    Tuvalu (Ellice Islands)  

Location
Tuvalu is composed of nine coral atolls spanning 360 miles of Polynesia. Part of the former Gilbert and Ellice Island Group colony.

  Wartime airfield Northwestern most island & SBD Wreck
  Wartime airfield and  Tuvalu's modern capital
  Operation loss of 22 aircraft due to weather in January 1944
  Lagoon used by the US Navy as an anchorage
  Largest island developed into Motulalo Airfield
  Located to the southwest with the largest village

Wartime History
The Japanese hoped to occupy Tuvalu from Kiribati, but losses at Midway delayed them, enabling American forces to reach the atoll first. American forces arrived on October 2, 1942. Secrecy was so well maintained that the Japanese did not learn of the occupation of Funafuti until March 1943 when they flew over the area.

Quickly, the Americans developed the area into an important Navy anchorage and important airfields with over 6,000 American personnel at its height in 1943. By the middle of 1944, as the war moved further to the north, American forces began withdrawing. By the end of the war, nearly all the American presence had departed.

Today
The government of Tuvalu was established in January, 1976, ending its status as a colony and part of the Gilbert and Ellice Colony and gained independence in 1978.

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Last Updated
May 3, 2016

 

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