Island chain in the South Pacific. Prior to WWII,
the island's political affairs were controlled by Britain although it
had its own royal family whose 18 year old daughter became Queen Salote.
During WWII, as part of the British empire, Tonga
formed a local defense force of about 2,000 men, which saw action in
Islands. For most Tongans the war was the 'American Invasion'
beginning on May 10, 1942 with the arrival of USN base construction and
garrison convoy reached Tonga. The 1st Construction Battalion (Seabees) went to
Tonga and built Tongatabu Airfield and main wharf. At its height, there were 10,000
Americans on the island. The 1st Marine Division briefly staged through
Tonga on their way to Guadalcanal.
As the war moved forward, the American presence rapidly withdrew. By July 1944 there
were only 31 Americans stationed on Tonga.
Tongatapu (Western Tongatapu)
Main island of the Tonga Group.
Also known as "Western Tongatapu". New Zealand and American troops were stationed on Tongatapu, which became
a staging point for shipping at Nukualofa Harbor (Nuku'alofa Harbor).
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August 15, 2015