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on the island is also the highest point in Kiribati, at 81 meters high surrounded by a coral reef.
On December 8, 1941 a Japanese flying dropped five or six bombs on Ocean Island. There were no casualties and no damage to buildings but the next day three flying boats bombed the island and destroyed the new Residency building, the machine shop and the BPC Manager's house. The Radio Station on Ocean Island was the parent station for the Gilbert Islands Coastwatching station and it was believed that the main purpose of the attack had been to silence this Radio Station. However, the Station was undamaged and remained in operation. At the end of February 1942, Free French destroyer La Triomphant evacuated the remaining 823 Chinese and 232 Europeans. The local people were left on the island, as it was believed the Japanese would not harm them.
On August 24, nine bombers of the 24th Air Flotilla, bombed Ocean and during the night, destroyers Ariake and Yugure shelled the island. On August 26, 1942 Yugure landed troops that occupied the island.
Japanese missions against Ocean Island (Banaba)
Later on September 1, a detachment from the 63rd Naval garrison unit replaced the Yugure force as the Ocean Island occupation unit with approximately 500 troops and 50 labourers. The phosphate mine had been sabotaged by the BPC prior to their evacuation and the Japanese did not attempt to resume mining, and simply occupied the island. During their occupation, the Japanese built fortifications but did not have a harbor or airfield to support the garrison. To relieve food shortages, islanders were shipped to other Japanese occupied islands, keeping approximately 150 of the young men as laborers.
American missions against Ocean Island (Banaba)
During August 1945, after the Japanese surrender, all Islanders were split into nine groups, marched to the cliffs over the sea, blindfolded and shot. Japanese remained on the island until the end of the war in September 1945.
On September 8, 1945 a RNZAF PBY Catalina piloted by Wing Commander Smith and Flying Officer Regan dropped surrender leaflets to the garrison. Officially, the garrison surrendered on October 1, 1945 aboard HMAS Diamantina (K377).
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