Christmas Island

Alliance Allies - Minor Member Nation or Possession
Possessing Power United Kingdom
Entry into WW2 3 Sep 1939
Population in 1939 1,250


ww2dbaseChristmas Island was discovered by British merchant ship captain William Mynors on Chrismas Day, 25 Dec, in 1643, hence it was named as so, although it would remain off European charts until 1666 and not explored until 1857. It was made a British colony in 1888, and within a few years Chinese laborers were brought in to mine phosphate. At the eve of the Pacific War, it was weakly defended by a force consisted of four British commissioned officers and 27 Indian soldiers, operating one coastal defense gun; additional Indian troops arrived shortly after to bolster the defenses. When the war began, most of the population were evacuated to Perth, Austraila. After several small naval and aerial bombardments in early 1942, a larger naval force arrived on 7 Mar, forcing the island to hoist a white flag after a particularly heavy naval bombardment; the force withdrew after the bombardment, however. During the night of 10 to 11 Mar 1942, the Indian policemen of Sikh nationality mutinied, killing five British troops and imprisoning 21 Europeans. On 31 Mar, 850 men of Japanese 21st Special Base Force, 24th Special Base Force, and 102nd Construction Unit captured the island and secured the phosphate mines; shortly after, all but 20 men of 21st Special Base Force remained to supervise the mining operations, which never amounted to much. In Nov 1943, over 60% of the island's population was evacuated prison camps at Surabaya, Java, Dutch East Indies, reducing the population to 500 Chinese and Malay mine workers supervised by 15 Japanese troops. Christmas Island was captured by troops delivered by HMS Rother in Oct 1945. After the war, the Indian troops who rebelled against their British officers were tried by a military court in Singapore, which sentenced five of them to death in 1947, which was later reduced to life sentences served in the prison systems of the newly established countries of India and Pakistan. In 1957, Christmas Island was transferred to Australia, which still administers Christmas Island today.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Update: Dec 2013

Christmas Island in World War II Interactive Map

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
24 Apr 2016 02:53:30 PM

My father served in the United States army during ww2. He often spoke about being stationed in Christmas island when I was young. He has since passed and now being older would like some information about his station there. If you have any information it would be greatly appreciated.
2. john says:
17 Jun 2016 01:42:19 PM

My dad was stationed on Christmas Island during WW2..He said he was there for slightly over 2 years.
3. Anonymous says:
11 Jul 2017 10:12:03 PM

Hi above posters Your fathers would have been stationed on the Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean, known today as Kiribati. This entry refers to the Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. It never had American soldiers on it and was occupied by the Japanese from March 1942 to August 1945.
4. Anonymous says:
19 Oct 2017 05:50:50 AM

My grandfather Ronald Henry Stafford was commissioned into the Indian army directly from the TA. Family recollection is that he was stoned on Christmas Island for training. I have a picture of him in uniform which certainly looks like tropical kit.

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