Occupation of Nanomea Atoll, 18 August 1943

The occupation of Nanomea Atoll (18 August 1943) was part of an American build-up before the invasion of the Gilbert Islands.

Nanomea (or Nanumea) is the most north-westerly of the Ellice Islands, and is 460 miles to the south east of Tarawa in the Gilberts.

In October 1942 the Marines had occupied Funafuti, further to the south in the Ellice Islands and by April 1943 it was in use as an airbase. It was one of only two Allied airfields within range of the Gilbert Islands, but the trip was long and difficult, and so at the start of August Nimitz approved the occupation of Nanomea and Nukufetu Atolls, nearer to the Gilberts.

An advance survey party landed on Nanamea on 18 August 1943 to find out if the atoll was defended. It wasn't and so they were able to take possession and begin to plan for the construction of the airfield. The Marine 7th Defense Battalion arrived on the island one week later.

Once the Japanese knew the island was occupied they carried out two air raids, the first on 7 September and the second on 7 November.

The Americans built a 6,000ft long bomber fiend on Lolua Island, the largest in the atoll, and this was operational by 7 September 1943. Two bomber squadrons were based on the island by the start of the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. The airfield was used for raids on the Gilberts and Marshalls from November 1943.

The airfield was handed over to the USAAF in December 1943, but it began to wind down in May 1944 as the fighting moved further away, and closed in December 1944.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 October 2017), Occupation of Nanomea Atoll, 18 August 1943 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/occupation_nanomea.html

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