The World at War



1767June 21 Captain Samuel Wallis of HMS Dolphin becomes the first European to set foot on Tahiti which he claims for George III of Great Britain and renames King George Island.
1768April 6 Louis de Bougainville arrives in Tahiti with the Boudeuse and Etoile and takes possession of the island which he rechristens Nouvelle Cythère in the name of Louis XIV of France.
1769April 13 Captain James Cook visits Tahiti aboard HMS Endeavour whose company of scientists make a failed attempt to measure the transit of Venus across the sun. Cook's expedition also explores Huahine, Raiatea, Bora Bora and Moorea.
1772November 19 The Spanish frigate Aquila under Captain Boenechea arrives in Tahiti. The Spaniards attempt to establish a colony but abandon their effort when Boenechea dies is 1775.
1788October 26 HMS Bounty under Captain William Bligh arrives in Tahiti to collect breadfruit trees for trans-plantation to the West Indies where it is hoped they will provide a cheap source of food for slaves.
1789April 14 HMS Bounty departs Tahiti.
April 28 Half the crew and a handful officers led by Fletcher Christian mutiny and seize control of HMS Bounty. Captain Bligh and 18 loyalists are set adrift in an open 23 foot cutter. Bligh's company survives a 41 day 5,800 kilometer voyage to Timor.
June 6 HMS Bounty returns to Tahiti where the mutineers quarrel amongst themselves over whether to remain or seek safer refuge from British justice.
September 21 Fletcher Christian, eight fellow mutineers, six Tahitian men and twelve Tahitian women board HMS Bounty and sail southeast. They flee to Tubuai in the Australs before finally settling on Pitcairn Island.
1791March HMS Pandora under Captain Edward Edwards arrives in Tahiti in search of the Bounty mutineers. Sixteen of the fugitives who remained on the island and settled with Tahitian wives are taken into custody and returned to England where three of them are executed.
During the Year Vairaa toa Tu (Pomare I) becomes Arii rahi (paramount chief) of Tahiti and establishes the Pomare dynasty.
1797March 5 HMS Duff under Captain James Wilson arrives in Tahiti carrying the first representatives of the London Missionary Society.
During the Year Pomare I of Tahiti and extends his authority to the Leeward Islands.
1803September 3 King Pomare I dies at age 58. Tribal warfare erupts. King Pomare II and the missionaries flee to Moorea.
1812King Pomare II becomes the first Tahitian convert to Christianity.
The London Missionary Society returns to Tahiti.
1813November 19 Captain David Porter of the USS Essex raises the American flag and takes formal possession of Nukahiva in the Marquesas for the United States.
1814Captain Porter departs Nukahiva leaving 3 officers and 20 men behind to guard 3 three captured British ships and prisoners of war. The Americans are subsequently overpowered in a native revolt led by an Englishman named Wilson. Most are killed and the few who manage to escape are taken prisoner by the British in Hawaii.
1815King Pomare II reestablishes his authority over Tahiti.
The populations of Tahiti and Moorea convert to Christianity.
1817The London Missionary Society establishes Tahiti's first printing press.
1818Reverend William Crook of the London Missionary Society establishes a base on Papeete lagoon which forms the nucleus for future capital.
1819Coffee, sugar and cotton cultivation begins on Tahiti under the aegis of the missionaries.
1820King Pomare II establishes his capital at Papeete.
1821December 7 King Pomare II having lapsed into heathen practices dies of alcoholism at age 45.
1827January 11 King Pomare III dies at age 8. The throne passes to his half sister Aimata who reigns as Queen Pomare IV.
1828The Mamaia, a native born sect whose leader claims to be Jesus Christ and promises his followers a sensual paradise, causes consternation to the missionaries.
1836French Roman Catholic priests from Mangereva in the Gambier Islands attempt to establish a mission in Tahiti but are expelled by Queen Pomare on the advise of George Pritchard, the British consul and a London missionary.
1838August The French frigate Venus under Admiral Abel du Petit Thouars anchors in Papeete harbor. The French demand payment of a $2,000 indemnity for the forced expulsion of Catholic missionaries. Queen Pomare meets the French demand under threat of bombardment.
1839The French frigate Artémise under Captain La Place anchors in Papeete harbor. The Captain threatens to shell the town unless Queen Pomare agrees to allow Frenchmen to freely visit Tahiti and engage in missionary activity. Pomare agrees to the French demands after the British Government refuses to intervene despite the pleas of its consul George Pritchard, a former London Missionary Society cleric.
1842May 1 The chiefs of the Marquesas sign a treaty with Admiral Abel du Petit Thouars ceding sovereignty over the archipelago to France.
June Herman Melville jumps ship at Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas and spends four months with the natives in the Taipi Valley.
October Melville escapes from indulgent captivity by the Taipi and sails to Tahiti aboard the Australian whaler Lucy Ann. Melville joins the Lucy Ann's crew in a mutiny and is jailed in Papeete's Calabooza Beretani for six weeks.
November Upon his release, Melville visits the village of Temae on Moorea where he talks the chief into allowing the local women to dance the lory lory an erotic dance forbidden by the missionaries.
During the Year Admiral du Petit Thouars returns to Tahiti alleging further infringement of French rights and demanding satisfaction. The native chiefs grant the French a protectorate over the island. Queen who was absent at the time makes an unsuccessful attempt to repudiate the protectorate.
1843Admiral du Petit Thouars returns to Tahiti with three ships, declares Queen Pomare's throne vacant and takes possession of her territory for France. King Louis Philippe repudiates the annexation and recalls du Petit Thouars but France maintains the protectorate.
1844January 16 France annexes Mangereva in the Gambier Islands.
March Tahitians in the Punaauia, Faaa and Teva I Uta districts rebell against French rule.
Queen Pomare IV flees to Raiatea.
April 17 French forces defeat larger but poorly armed Tahitian force in the Battle of Mahaena. The fighting ends with 102 Tahitians and 15 French dead. The Tahitians retreat to the bush and wage guerilla warfare until 1846
During the Year British consul George Pritchard is arrested by the French and deported from the Society Islands. Pritchard is eventually paid an indemnity of 100,000 francs by the French Government.
1845Herman Melville completes his first book, Typee, an account of his four months among the natives in the Marquesas. The manuscript is rejected by Harper Brothers as too fantastic to be true.
Chief Paralta is installed as Regent of Tahiti by the French.
1846February 26 The first edition of Typee is published by John Murray in London under the title Narrative of a Four Months' Residence among the Natives of a Valley of the Marquesas Islands.
May French victory in the Battle of Punaruu ends the Tahitian rebellion.
During the Year Polynesians repulse a French troop landing at Maeva on Huahine.
1847March 30 The first edition of Omoo, A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas by Herman Melville is published in London by John Murray.
During the Year Queen Pomare IV returns from Raiatea to Tahiti and is restored to the throne after accepting the French protectorate.
1860Peruvian slave traders begin a three year series of raids on the Marquesas.
1863Marquesan slaves returning to the islands from Peru introduce smallpox to the islands contributing to rapid depopulation in the archipelago.
1865British businessman William Stewart establishes a large cotton plantation at Atimaono on Tahiti and is permitted to import 1,000 laborers from China.
1872Julien Viaud, a young naval officer and future member of the Academié Française, visits Tahiti for several weeks. Viaud executes several sketches and watercolors during his sojourn and acquires a nickname in the court of Queen Pomare, Loti.
1873The Atimaono cotton plantation declares bankruptcy. The Chinese labor force turns to market gardening and street pedaling.
1875October 27 American consul Dorence Atwater marries Ari'ino'ore Moetia Salmon, sister of Queen Marau. Atwater first gained prominence by secretly recording the names of 12,367 Union fellow prisoners who died of mistreatment in the Confederate prisoner of war camp at Andersonville, Georgia during the American Civil War.
1877September 24 Queen Pomare IV dies at age 64 and is succeeded by her son Ariane who reigns as King Pomare V.
1880June 29 King Pomare V cedes his sovereign rights over Tahiti to France.
During the Year Julien Viaud achieves literary success with his novel Le Mariage de Loti (The Marriage of Loti) an account of his friendship with Queen Pomare and romance with a Rarahu, a young girl from Bora Bora. Viaud adopts the pen name Pierre Loti. The book is considered a fairly accurate in its descriptions of late 19th century Tahiti despite the author's virulent anti-Chinese bias.
1881March 6 France annexes Rapa in the Austral Islands.
During the Year France annexes the Gambier Islands to preempt German colonization.
1884A fire destroys most of Papeete. An ordinance is adopted prohibiting the use of flammable building materials shortly thereafter.
A representative General Council is established for Tahiti and Moorea.
1887Botanist Edouard Raoul arrives in Tahiti with a cargo of 1500 plant species and establishes an experimental farm that supplies local farmers with over 150 varieties of fruit trees within a decade.
1888March 15 France annexes Raiatea, Huahine and Tahaa in the Leeward Islands.
March 19 France annexes Bora Bora in the Leeward Islands.
During the Year Robert Louis Stevenson spends several months visiting the Marquesas, the Tuamotus and Tahiti. Stevenson's conversations with Donat Rimareau, the French Resident on Fakareva atoll, provide the inspiration for his book The Isle of Voices.
1891June 8 Paul Gauguin arrives in Papeete after a 69 day voyage from Bordeaux. The aspiring artist plans to stay in Tahiti long enough to paint enough works to stage an exhibition which will establish his reputation in Europe.
September 12 Former King Pomare V, last King of Tahiti from 1877 to 1880, dies at age 50.
1893Gauguin returns to France with 66 paintings and 12 wooden sculptures executed during his sojourn in Tahiti. The exhibition ends in failure.
The General Council of Tahiti and Moorea is dissolved for alcoholism and debauchery.
1895Gauguin returns to Tahiti.
1897The Battle of Avera Valley ends resistance to French rule on Raiatea. Teraupoo, leader of the native rebels is deported to New Caledonia. The Queen of Raiatea and 136 of her followers are exiled to Eiao in the Marquesas.
1898January Gaugin completes his masterpiece, D'ou venons nous? Que sommes nous? Ou allons nous? (Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?). He makes a failed suicide attempt shortly thereafter.
1900France annexes the Austral Islands.
1901Gauguin leaves Tahiti for Hiva Oa in the Marquesas where he builds his Maison du Jouir (House of Pleasure).
1903May 8 Artist Paul Gauguin dies at age 54 in la Maison du Jouir, his home at Atuona on Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands.
May 19 A decree unites French possessions in eastern Polynesia under a single administration titled Les Etablissements Français de l'Océanie (French Settlements in Oceania).
During the Year A hurricane strikes the Tuamotu Islands killing 515 people.
The colony's representative General Council is suppressed in favor of an Administrative Council after refusing to approve export duties on vanilla and copra.
1905Le Comité Française de l'Océanie is formed in Paris to promote development of French colonies in the Pacific. Paul Deschanel, future President of the French Republic and author of two books promoting the Pacific colonies and construction of a Panama Canal, is among the leaders of the committee.
La Banque d'Indochine establishes an agency in Papeete at the direction of the Government. The bank's principal accomplishment is the replacement of the Chilean peso with the franc as the accepted currency of the colony.
1906February A hurricane strikes Tahiti and the Tuamotu Islands killing 150 people and causing $1,000,000 in damages.
1907Jack and Charmian London land at Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas during the early stages of a planned 7 year voyage around the world in their yacht Snark. The Londons rent the Robert Louis Stevenson house for several weeks and visit the Taipivai Valley, the setting of Herman Melville's book Typee, a childhood favorite of Jack's. The London's voyage continued on with stops in Tuamotu and Tahiti.
La Compagnie Française des Phosphates d'Océanie is formed to exploit recently discovered deposits of the mineral on Makatea in the Tuamotu Islands. The Makatea ores are 65 - 90% pure phosphate.
1909La Société contonnière des Etablissements Français de l'Océanie is formed to promote the cultivation of cotton on the island of Raiatea. The company exports about 20 tons of cotton annually until folding at the start of the first World War.
1914January - April 5 English poet Rupert Brooke composes three of his best known poems; Tiare Tahiti, The Great Lover and Retrospect, while recuperating from coral poisoning at Mataiea, Tahiti.
August The French patrol ship Zéléé under Lieutenant Maxime Destremau seizes a German freighter, the Walkure, which was taking on a load of phosphate at Makatea and escorts in to Papeete.
August 29 The colony begins to mobilize. 165 Tahitians are sent to New Caledonia for training and leave for France by the end of the year.
September The Zéléé returns to Papeete with the Walkure in tow. Lieutenant Destremau orders the ship's 12 guns and 100 man crew transferred to shore.
Three German ships, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Nurnberg, their names masked and their crew members speaking excellent English, visit Bora Bora in the Leeward chain of the Society Islands.
September 22 Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Nurnberg, part of the German East Asia Fleet under Admiral Graf Spee enter Papeete harbor.
Governor Fawtier and the Bishop of Papeete go to the waterfront for a look. The French set fire to the coal stocks, dynamite the lighthouse and hide documents as the ships fire more than a hundred shells at the city. French shore batteries are quickly silenced. The patrol boat Zéléé and the captured German freighter Walkure are struck by shells and sink in the harbor. A fire begins in the central market area of Papeete. As some residents fight the spreading flames and others flee the city.
After the attack, the naval commander, Lieutenant Destremau accuses the Governor of abandoning his headquarters to take refuge in the Catholic mission during the bombing, thereby setting a bad example and being derelict in his duties. The two officials are also in disagreement over a plan to exact retribution in the form of a million franc levy on the city's German residents to pay for the damage inflicted by the raid.
October Lieutenant Destremau orders Governor Fawtier to leave the colony. The governor refuses and the commander threatens to arrest him. Fawtier then suspends Destremau as commander of troops in Oceania and arrests him. Destremau's deputy supports the Lieutenant and the troops mutiny in their barracks. The Governor sends a messenger to Fiji requesting that the commander of the French Far Eastern Fleet be telegraphed for further instruction. The response is that Destremau should obey Fawtier.
The commander of the French Far Eastern Fleet arrives in Tahiti and convenes an inquest. He ultimately exonerates the Governor but also credits Lieutenant Destremau with the defense of Tahiti . The Commander also blames ex-queen Marau for turning the troops against the Governor. Destremau is sentenced to two months in prison.
During the Year The Orofara Valley on Tahiti is set aside as a leper colony by governmental decree.
1916A census of military age men is conducted in Oceania. A total of 1,057 men from Oceania serve in the Battalion du Pacifique with New Caledonians.
June 4 Le Battalion des Tirailleurs du Pacifique is formed in New Caledonia and leaves Nouméa on the Gange. The battalion is sent to Marseilles were it is put to work loading supply ships for Armée d'Orient.
December 3 A second contingent of the Tirailleurs du Pacifique leaves New Caledonia for France.
During the Year 100 Tahitian poilus from the Battalion des Tirailleurs du Pacifique are sent to fight at Salonika with the Armée d'Orient.
1917April An artillery company is added to the Battalion des Tirailleurs du Pacifique which is redesignated the Battalion mixte du Pacifique (BMP).
June The Battalion mixte du Pacifique enters combat.
November 10 A third contingent of the Battalion du Pacifique leaves New Caledonia on the El Kantara for France.
During the Year The Seeadler, a German raider commanded by Felix von Luckner, anchors at Mopelia where von Luckner lands and raises the German flag. The ship is accidently wrecked and its crew lives on the island for the next three months. The Captain and a few crew members left the island by canoe and made their way to the Cook Islands where they passed themselves off as Dutch-American or Norwegians. The remaining Germans later commandeered a French boat sent to Mopelia to collect copra and departed leaving the Frenchmen stranded.
1918August - October The Battalion mixte du Pacifique see action in the second Battle of the Marne.
October 25 The Battalion mixte du Pacifique takes Vesles, Caumont and Petit Caumont.
November 17 A steamer carrying passengers infected with Spanish influenza docks in Papeete. 1/7th of the colony's population dies in the ensuing epidemic.
December 10 General Mangin, commander of the 10th Army, awards a citation to the Battalion mixte du Pacifique for valor in capturing Vesles, Caumont and Petit Caumont during the 2nd Battle of the Marne.
During the Year British novelist W. Somerset Maugham visits Tahiti to perform research for a book on the life of Gauguin.
1919November The Battalion mixte du Pacifique returns to Papeete on the Kia Ora.
During the Year The Moon and Sixpence Somerset Maugham's novel based on the life of Paul Gaugin is published..
American botanist Harrison Smith leaves the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and establishes a 340 acre botanical garden on his Motu Ovini estate at Papaeri, Tahiti.
A report criticizes the Government for administrative neglect of the Marquesas. It notes that the population has fallen from 3,117 in 1912 to about 2,500 primarily due to infertility resulting from venereal disease and the absence of police, schools and transportation between the archipelago and Tahiti. The report recommends a separate administration, promotion of French colonization and creation of a shipping line to service the islands.
1920American authors Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, veterans of the Lafayette Escadrille, receive an advance for travel articles from Harper's Magazine, and take up residence in Tahiti.
New Zealand replaces the United States as the principal, indeed nearly exclusive, market for Oceania's phosphate exports.
1921Faery Lands of the South Seas, a travel book by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, is published.
1923A monument bearing the names of 203 soldiers from French Oceania who died in the First World War is inaugurated on the Avenue Bruat in Papeete.
Messageries Maritimes establishes a shipping route linking Tahiti with Marseilles via the Panama Canal. The Union Steamship Line of New Zealand holds a near monopoly on Tahitian shipping at the time.
1924The value of Oceania's exports totals 42,107,000 francs:
Value in Francs
1,334 Tons
852 Tons
1925September 9 Lieutenants Rutledge Irvin and Stephen Callaway make the first airplane flight over French Oceania in a seaplane carried aboard the American cruiser USS Trenton during a cruise through the Marquesas.
September 11 American author James Norman Hall, a veteran of the Lafayette Escadrille and resident in Tahiti, rides as a passenger in a flight over the island by a seaplane from a visiting American naval squadron.
During the Year The French patrol boat Cassiopée visits Taiohao to dedicate a monument to the French sailors who died in the Marquesas since the archipelago's annexation in 1842. The visit comes in response to off handed remarks made by visiting American naval officers regarding the possible annexation of that group by the United States.
1929June 11 The French cruiser Tourville anchors at Tahuata in the Marquesas. An FBA seaplane carried aboard the Tourville is launched for a flight over the islands.
June 16 The Tourville stops at Fakarava atoll in the Tuamotu Islands. Lieutenant Commander Bellando and Navigator Ferté depart for Papeete in a CAMS 37 seaplane to announce the ship's impending arrival in the capital. Bellando and Ferté complete the 200 mile flight in a little over 2 hours with an uneventful landing in Papeete lagoon.
1930March Henri Matisse begins a three month sojourn in Tahiti and the Tuamotu Islands. Matisse executes only one painting during his visit to Polynesia but took extensive notes and made sketches that influenced several of his future works.
May Zane Grey hauls in record 1040 lbs. Pacific Blue Marlin and 53 lbs. Mahi Mahi from the waters off Vairao, Tahiti. The American author's repeated fishing expeditions to Oceania in the yacht Fisherman II arouses suspicions among the local officials that he may be the advance guard on an American annexation attempt.
1931January 31 France is awarded possession of Clipperton Island, an uninhabited Pacific atoll 1600 miles southwest of California, in arbitration of a dispute with Mexico adjudicated by King Victor Emmanuel of Italy.
During the Year Tales of Tahitian Waters, Zane Grey's narrative of the South Pacific's pioneer anglers is published.
1932Mutiny on the Bounty, a novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall is published. The book is first account of the 1789 mutiny aboard a British ship visiting Tahiti is published in over a century.
1933Zane Grey returns to Vairao on Tahiti for yet another fishing expedition. This time he breaks his own record by hauling in a 64 lbs. Mahi Mahi and sets a new record by landing a 618 and a 710 lbs. Silver Marlin.
Oceania is mired in the Great Depression the value of the colony's annual exports has dropped 60% since 1929. Imports have declined 71%. Copra maintains its value but exports of vanilla and mother of pearl shell decline drastically.
The Syndicat d'Initiative de la Colonie de Tahiti is formed in France to promote tourist trade with the islands but the subsequent discontinuation of steamship service to Sydney and San Francisco all but kills any hope that tourism will become substantial source of revenue.
1934February 2 Marau Taaroa, the former Queen Marau and ex-wife of the late King Pomare V, dies age 73.
October 11 The Navy Minister informs the Quai d'Orsay of German efforts to purchase the island of Meetia from its Belgian owners for possible use as a clandestine naval base or port of call for submarines.
During the Year The Post Office issues Oceania's first airmail stamp at a time when there is no landing field in the colony and a nearly thirteen years before such service is actually available.
1935January 26 The French ship Jeanne d'Arc visits Clipperton Island in the Pacific to establish sovereignty over the atoll.
During the Year Mutiny on the Bounty, director Frank Lloyd's film version of the Nordhoff and Hall novel, wins the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year. Most of the film is shot off Santa Catalina but Lloyd films background scenes in Tahiti.
The right of children born to Chinese residents of the colony to obtain French citizenship by simple declaration is abolished. Henceforth they are required to observe the regular naturalization procedures imposed on adult foreigners.
The Tahitian High Court which was maintained to settle land disputes under the 1880 treaty which made the island a French protectorate ceases to function.
1936January 9 Eighteen members of the Naval Air Squadron Tahiti arrive in Papeete aboard the Messageries Maritimes liner Eridan to man the newly constructed base at Fare Ute.
During the Year The Union Steamship Company discontinues its Sydney-Papeete-San Francisco service. Passengers seeking passage to Tahiti must henceforth travel by freighter or via New Caledonia.
1937Norwegian zoologist Thor Heyerdahl makes his first visit to Oceania. Heyerdahl and his wife spend a year on Fatuhiva in the Marquesas studying the transoceanic origins of the island's animals. Heyerdahl notices the strong easterly winds and currents whenever he ventures into the sea to fish and begins to question the traditional theory that the Polynesians originated in southeast Asia.
Felix von Luckner visits Mopelia on the twentieth anniversary of his landing during World War I.
1939Oceania's trade has recovered from the Great Depression. The value of both imports and exports more than quadruple the figures for 1933. Phosphate exports have doubled in the same period.
The number of automobiles registered in Oceania totals 700.
1940June Governor Frédéric Chastenet de Géry issues a proclamation declaring that in the wake of the armistice, "we are all ready to make the sacrifices necessary to safeguard our liberty; we join our allies, in accord with all the other parts of the French Empire, in foreseeing the continuation of the struggle." The Governor begins promulgation of Vichy decrees in Oceania.
The Comité des Français d'Océanie demands, "a solemn proclamation of loyalty to the Government of Marshal Petain," from the authorities and calls for the removal of, "half breeds whether naturalized or not" from the administration.
The Comité France Libre is clandestinely formed by a group of anti-Vichy Frenchmen.
August 24 Governor Chastenet issues a decree banning all clandestine organizations and requiring civil servants to affirm that they are not members of such organizations.
September 1 An informal referendum conducted by the Comité France Libre on Tahiti and Moorea results in a 5,564 to 18 vote preference for the Free French over Vichy.
September 2 A delegation from the Comité France Libre forces Governor Chastenet to resign and constitutes itself as the Provisional Council of Oceania.
General de Gaulle confers his recognition on the Provisional Council of Oceania by telegram from London.
September British residents of Papeete storm their consulate and demand the removal of the consul whom the consider pro-Vichy. London quickly replaces its diplomatic representative with a more committed Gaullist sympathizer.
September 9 The first of 300 Tahitian volunteers join the Free French Forces.
September 12 Edmond Mansard is installed as the first Free French Governor of Oceania.
September 18 Governor Mansard reveals his involvement in a plot with other politicians to limit the power of the Gaullists and pursue a less openly anti-Vichy policy to his Chief of Cabinet Doctor Emile de Curton. Mansard's secretary general denounces him, declares his loyalty to Marshal Petain and flees his office brandishing a pistol. The secretary makes his way to the British consulate where he demands asylum.
Governor Mansard resigns and is succeeded by Doctor de Curton who immediately dismisses pro-Vichy functionaries and orders the arrest of his personal and political opponents.
Three prominent Vichy supporters are deported to the island of Maupit for several months before being returned to Papeete for trial.
1941April 21 Captain Félix Broche leads the first group of Tahitian Free French soldiers in a march down Papeete's Avenue Bruat where they then board the cruiser Monovai for a voyage to Nouméa, where another 300 volunteers from New Caledonia and the New Hebrides.
Spring General de Gaulle dispatches Governor General Richard Brunot of French Equatorial Africa to Papeete to investigate the political quarrels in Oceania. Brunot clashes, oft times violently, with Governor de Curton and local functionaries including the British consul who suspect him of planning to establish his own clique in their place.
May 5 The Marine Infantry Battalion of the Pacific is formed in Nouméa, New Caledonia under the command of Captain Félix Broche. The battalion includes 300 volunteers from Tahiti and 300 from New Caledonia.
July General de Gaulle appoints Captain Georges Thierry d’Argenlieu High Commissioner for Free French territories in the Pacific, "to re-establish definitively and without have measures the authority of Free France, to render operative for war all the resources which are there, and to assure there, against all the dangers which are possible and perhaps imminent, the defense of the French territories in union with our allies." The crew of the Atlantis, an armed German cargo ship disguised as a Norwegian freighter, takes shore leave on Vanavana in the Tuamotu Islands. Commander Rogge's men trade chocolate and tobacco for coconuts with the natives. The visit goes unnoticed by the French authorities.
October High Commissioner d'Argenlieu orders Governor General Brunot and Governor de Curton to leave the colony and appoints Georges Orselli as the new Governor of Oceania. The appointment puts an end to the personal and political squabbling and secures the colony's loyalty to Free France. Orselli remains in office until the end of 1945.
October 1 The French Naval Air Base at Fare Ute on Tahiti is officially closed.
During the Year Thor Heyerdahl publishes an article in International Science suggesting that Polynesia had been settled by two successive waves of immigrants, the first having reached French Oceania from Peru via Easter Island on balsa rafts and the second having reached Hawaii several centuries later from British Columbia in double canoes.
1942February 17 Force 6614 from New York lands 3,900 soldiers and 500 sailors on Bora Bora in the Society Islands. The Americans begin construction of a refueling base for air flights between the United States and New Zealand. Bora Bora becomes a major rest and recuperation area for American forces in the Pacific once the Japanese threat to Oceania subsides. Among the thousands of Americans to visit Bora Bora during the war is a young naval officer, James A. Michener.
June The Marine Infantry Battalion of the Pacific sees action with the General Koenig's Free French 1st Division at Bir Hakeim, Libya. Captain Broche is killed during the battle.
1943The Marine Infantry Battalion of the Pacific sees action with the Free French forces at Cape Bon in Tunisia.
1944April The Marine Infantry Battalion of the Pacific sees action with the Free French 1st Division under General Brosset in Italy at Monte Cassino, Sienna and Rome.
August 15 The Marine Infantry Battalion of the Pacific lands in Provence and later takes part in the liberation of the Rhone Valley, the Vosges and Belfort.
December The Marine Infantry Battalion of the Pacific is withdrawn from Eastern France and assigned to garrison duty in Paris. The decision to withdraw Polynesian and Melanesian soldiers is based on the harsh winter conditions in the Ardennes.
1945General de Gaulle awards the Cross of the Order of the Liberation to the Marine Infantry Battalion of the Pacific.
1946May 8 The surviving members of the Marine Infantry Battalion of the Pacific return to Papeete aboard the Sagittaire, a freighter operated by the Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes, 5 years and 9 days after departing Nouméa. Seventy six members of the battalion were killed in action, wounded or died of disease during the war. Papeete's memorial will be inscribed with the names of 87 Free French volunteers from Oceania who died during the war.
June 2 The last American troops are withdrawn from Bora Bora.
October 27 Oceania's status is transformed from colony to overseas territory of France.
1947Thor Heyerdahl and five companions cross 8,000 kilometers of open ocean between Callao, Peru and Raroia atoll in the Tuamotus on a replica of an aboriginal balsa raft named Kon Tiki to test his theory that the Polynesians could have originated in South America.
1948James A. Michener is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his first novel, Tales of the South Pacific.

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