This blog on New Caledonia is for those of you who ever wondered what life on a tiny island in the South Pacific might be like. Tired of bracing winter winds, the stress of an inner city or simply dreaming of a life change? This is a blog about what happens when, in the words of Yogi Berra, "you come to a fork in the road, [and] take it".

23 July 2007

Consequences of the American Presence in New Caledonia

A bridge built by the US army, Poya, New Caledonia

On 12 March 1942, a large convoy of 17 000 American army soldiers, under the orders of General Patch, landed in Noumea - which then became Pacific headquarters (to stop the advance of the Japanese during World War II).

Airports were built (Tontouta, Gaiacs Plain). Amunition and gasoline filled all possible ports, medical clinics were installed at Anse Vata, Conception, Dumbea, north of Bourail, on the coast and in the far north.

What tremendous upset to the country's daily life! After having endured a period of food rationing, here is what was distributed all over the island:
  • Chocolate.
  • Chewing gum.
  • Ice cream.
  • And, last but not least, whiskey!
The Americans also introduced modern farming. They cleared land with a bulldozer and planted crops with machines. They also worked with the tribes - who received salaries in dollars for the first time.

In 1944, military operations began to distance itself from New Caledonia. 1946 marked the departure of the last GIs and the return of the volunteers.

- Translated loosely from a text used in a 2005 BEP history-geography exam in New Caledonia. The subject: "What are the consequences of the American presence in New Caledonia?" (Source: Bulletin d'accueil, Vice-Rectorat de la Nouvelle-Caledonie)

Special thanks to Marc ("Le Cagou") for sharing this with us.


Jo Pfaff Minneapolis, MN said...

Greetings! I am not sure if those 4 food groups are necessities or not, but I am thankful to be a product of that invasion.
Julie-my family is quite emotional about your departure, and are thankful for your sojourn on the island.
Thanks for making us feel at home on your blog.

Ruth Pharris said...

While we were in NC, we were taken to see the American Memorial. We were quite moved because it reminded us that NC is where it all began for us. If our father had not been stationed there..........well, as Jo said, we wouldn't be here at all.
I have not been able to comment at all on the blogs that detail your leaving plans. Perhaps I am in denial? I can hardly think about it with out feeling blue.
Like my sisters, I wish you and your family all the best. If you start up a new blog somewhere, please let us know so that we can follow the "life and times of Julie."
Gratefully, Ruth

Julie said...

Hi Jo and Ruth,

I thought you might appreciate this post, brought to us by Marc. It is your father's story ... and your mother's.

Thanks for being such loyal readers ... and be assured, my blogging will not stop: it will just move along to another blog (and I'll post the new blog address on this blog once I know it).

When one door closes, another opens.


Le Cagou said...

Hello everyone,
Than you very much Julie for your kind comments.
I'm only too please to have participated in some of your stories.
And I'am " made up " for your latest, not last, about " la presence de l'armee americaine en Nlle-Caledonie and in the Pacific too during world war two.
A bientot. Marc

Anonymous said...

We are going ot Anse vata Beach where my Dad had so many happy Memories - playing the Piano for the US Forces during WW2! We Hope to leave a small memory for him buried deep in the sand there- my only regeret I did did not get him to return in life! He often spoke of his happy times there and never got over the guilt of "enjoying" his part in WW2. We also have a customer in Noumea so NC holsa much to interest this Kiwi!

Julie said...

How wonderful to hear this story, Anonymous. I'm sure your father would be very happy to know you will be at Anse Vata. How lucky he was to be there during WWII!