Fanning Island

Digital relief map of Fanning Island

Fanning Island (Tabuaeran; 159.364W 3.86N) is a fairly large atoll located abou 153 miles (246 km) northwest of Christmas Island in the central Pacific. It is roughly circular, 9.5 miles (15 km) long and 6.5 miles (10.5 km) wide, with a large but foul lagoon. There is a pass into the lagoon on the southwest side of the atoll leading to a deeper anchorage, English Harbor, suitable only for shallow-draft vessels. The climate is very wet, with rainfall typically 100 inches (250 cm) a year, but 1940 was an unusually wet year. The population was 250 natives and about 30 Europeans and Chinese. Its only product was copra.

The island was British territory and had a Canada-to-Fiji cable station in 1916.  In 1941 it was garrisoned by a platoon of New Zealand troops and a single artillery battery. These were relieved by a company of U.S. troops from 21 Regiment on 26 April 1942. Though it was a potential Japanese target early in the war, the Japanese defeat at Midway guaranteed that the island would be little threatened for the remainder of the war.


Jane's Oceania Home Page (accessed 2008-10-31)

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