Thursday, August 25, 2016

Congratulations to Fiji!

Hearty congratulations to Fiji for winning their first Olympic medal ever in Rio in 2016!  They were the gold medal champions in Rugby Sevens where they looked truly unstoppable.  The American team lost 24 to 19 against Fiji in Rio which was a highly respectable performance for the Eagles.  Astonishingly the Americans were the defending Olympic rugby champions -- from 1924 (see earlier post...!

Naturally I must ask whether Americans ever invaded or fought in Fiji.  Readers of our book America Invades will know that the answer is "Yes!"

Here is the Fiji chapter of America Invades...

"Fiji is a Pacific island nation that includes hundreds of islands. Fiji, whose national motto is “Fear God and honour the Queen,” dropped the image of Queen Elizabeth II from its currency in the twenty-first century.

For a country that, in the late nineteenth century, was firmly within the British sphere of influence, we actually had a surprising amount of military involvement with Fiji prior to that. Mostly this was concerned with the USN attempting, sometimes rather forcefully, to secure recompense on behalf of Americans who’d had their property on the islands damaged in some of the conflicts that occurred during that period.

Already by 1840, the United States Exploring Expedition was doing a bit more than just exploring Fiji. Somehow, two USN personnel were killed by locals, and in a response, a force of US sailors was landed. Two villages were burned, and a number of Fijians were killed.

Then we come to a certain John Brown Williams. John Brown Williams owned a store in Fiji, and he also happened to be the US consul. His store suffered assorted damage, and by 1855, the USN was returning to the island again demanding tens of thousands of dollars in compensation for damage to US property. Now tens of thousands of dollars is a lot of money these days but it was a lot, lot more then. Marines and sailors from the USS John Adams went ashore in an attempt to capture the local ruler Cakobau. The landing party defeated local resistance, but one sailor was killed and two marines wounded, and Cakobau escaped.

In 1858, the USN was once again in Fiji, with USS Vandalia, demanding compensation. And in 1867, USS Tuscarora arrived at Levuka and threatened to open fire unless compensation was paid.
Eventually Cakobau decided that forming a government with assorted settlers and, in the end, having the islands taken over by Britain was his best option for dealing with his problems, so that’s what he did.

The US military returned to Fiji during World War II, though this time it was on a much friendlier basis. New Zealand forces had previously been assisting the local defenders of the islands, but in 1942, we took over. Bomber squadrons were based at Nadi. We assisted with 155mm coastal defense artillery and anti-aircraft defense, and the 37th Division, which had originally intended to go to Northern Ireland, arrived in Fiji and Tonga instead. Quite a change. Assorted US facilities were built, including the Martintar Naval Air Station. Some of our troops trained on a Fijian island prior to the attack on Guadalcanal, and while the situation on Guadalcanal remained uncertain, Fiji remained at risk from a Japanese invasion.

Fiji became independent from Britain in 1970. After the coup in Fiji in 1987, the United States suspended defense cooperation. Another government was toppled in 2000, and another coup took place in 2006, which the United States condemned."

You can purchase a signed copy of America Invades
or regular copies on