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    Nauru Island  Republic of Nauru
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Peter Flahavin 1996

Location
Nauru Island is an oval shaped island near the equator in the southwestern Pacific Ocean in the Republic of Nauru. Also known as simply Nauru. Formally known as Pleasant Island. The island has a circumference of 12 miles and an area of 8.1 square miles. Today, Nauru divided into fourteen administrative districts. Yaren serves as the administrative center. Nauru has no capital.

Prewar
In 1888, Germany annexed Nauru as part of the Marshall Islands Protectorate. In 1900 a British company discovered phosphate on the island and negotiated with Germany for mining rights. In November 1914 Nauru was seized by Australian troops under the command of Captain Norrie who became acting military administrator at Nauru.

and remained under British control until 1921 when a League of Nations mandate granted to Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain administrative rights and established the British Phosphate Commissioners (BPC) to mine phosphate.

Wartime History
During World War II, the island had the unique distinction of being attacked by Germany, Japan and the United States with action by Free French, Australian Navy and U. S. Navy warships in the sea off Nauru.

Australian, German, Japanese and American missions against Nauru
December 27, 1940–October 30, 1944

On June 12, 1940 HMAS Manoora (F48) intercepted Italian merchant ship Romolo and scuttled her off Nauru. During December 1940, two German raiders Komet and Orion sank five Allied merchant ships off Nauru. On December 27, 1940 Komet bombarded the phosphate mine damaging the cantilever loading wharf, oil tanks and other facilities.

On July 17, 1941 Norwegian cargo ship Skagerak helped evacuate Europeans from Nauru. On February 23 1942, La Tromphant to evacuate 61 Europeans, 391 Chinese and 49 military personnel from Nauru Island then proceeded to Ocean Island to evacuate 823 Chinese and 232 Europeans.

Occupied by the Japanese in late 1942, the garrison was commanded by Takeuchi. The Japanese garrison included Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) and Imperial Japanese Army (IJN) personnel. During the Pacific War, the Japanese continued to mine phosphates and built defenses and Nauru Airfield. In September 1943, roughly 1,200 Nauruans were deported to Truk as laborers.

After the surrender of Japan, Nauru waited for Australian forces to accept the surrender. On September 13, 1945, the Nauru garrison represented by IJA Captain Hisayuki Soeda and IJN Lieutenant Commander Kishimoto officially surrendered roughly 500 to the Allies aboard HMAS Diamantina (K377). Afterwards, Australian forces occupy the island.

Postwar
After the surrender ceremony, occupied by the Australian Army, 11th Infantry Brigade under the command of Brigadier J. R. Stevenson with the 31/51st Infantry Battalion and 22nd Supply Depot platoon. On September 16, 1945 the Japanese Prisoners Of War (POW) were embarked and transported aboard HMAS Glenelg (J236) and SS River Burdekin bound for Torokina on Bougainville. The Australians captured LtCdr Nakayama, IJN as a suspected war criminal. Also captured was Lt Cmdr Naoomi Suzuki, POW 282001 was transported to Bougainville, Fauro and later tried for War Crimes at Rabaul and hanged.

A small number of Japanese remained on the island to assist the Australians with cleanup and disabling the island's defenses. At least four Type 97 Te Ke Tankettes were captured near the oil storage tanks at the phosphate mine.

After the Pacific War, only 700 Nauruans survivors returned. In 1947 the island was placed under United Nations Trusteeship and Australia resumed administration on behalf of the three partner governments: Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.

Today
On January 31, 1968 became independent as the Republic of Nauru. During the 1970 the Japanese Government built a fringing ring road around the Island.

Nauru Airfield (Nauru International Airport)
Built by Japanese, still in use today.

Nauru Museum (Nauru Military Museum)
Collection of artifacts, weapons guns and aircraft wreckage.

Japanese Type 97 Te Ke Tankette
One of four tankettes abandoned on Nauru, wreckage remained until the 1990s.

Japanese 127mm Anti-Aircraft Gun Type 89 (1929)
This gun was emplaced on Nauru.

Japanese 150mm Coastal Gun
Emplaced on Nauru, view of barrel and view of breech.

Unexploded Munitions
Frequently, unexploded ordnance (UXO) is discovered when new construction is undertaken or by excavation by the Nauru Phosphate Corporation occasionally dig up unexploded munitions including a Japanese 60kg aerial bomb and a U. S. 500 pound bomb, a sight to walk down a trail and suddenly it stops where a 1,000 pounder exploded.

Japanese bunkers and trenches
Nauru Island has extensive wartime bunkers and trenches. At least one 80mm coastal gun remains in a bunker. All other weapons were dumped into the sea in 1945.

F6F-3 Hellcat Bureau Number 26088
Pilot Smith crashed December 8, 1943

B-25G "Coral Princess" Serial Number 42-64977
Pilot James crashed June 29, 1944

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Last Updated
June 15, 2019

 

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