Thanks for the great post! My uncle Guy Gianino was in Australia in 1942, then New Caledonia, then Guadalcanal. He was in the 182nd regiment, which was part of the Americal Division. Actually they were in only in Australia for a few weeks, before going to New Caledonia, breaking camp outside Melbourne on March 6, 1942, according to the Wikipedia article. I don't think they had much time to see the sites and check out the ladies!
When I get some time I'm going to read the pamphlet more closely. The drawings in it look just like the drawings from the old "Believe It or Not" series that used to be syndicated in newspapers.
I went through the materials of my Uncle Guy's that I have, and did not find anything about Australia, as I suspected. I did find, however, a pamphlet about New Caledonia, though. He had mailed it home to his parents, so they could read it.
It is 31 pages long, some day I'll have my 15 year old son who is 100 times more computer literate than me either scan it or photograph it, so I can put a link to it.
Anyway, here are some details and some excerpts:
The pamphlet is 5 1/2" by 8". The Cover says:
All you want to know about NEW - CALEDONIA
Prix: 15 Francs
In the upper right corner, it says in French, and then English:
Dedicated to the memory of La Fayette and of all the American heroes who fell on the soil of France during the war 1914-1918.
Some of things I found interesting:
Its nearest point to the Continent of Australia is roughly 800 nautical miles, while from Sydney to Noumea the distance is 1100 miles.
To obtain San Francisco time, deduct 19 hours, to obtain New York time, deduct 16 hours.
The Island of New-Caledonia is cigar shaped, running from North-West to South-East with a total length of 400 kilometres. Its average width is 50 kilometres. From end to end , a chain of mountains divides the West Coast from the East Coast and a corral reef surrounds the whole of the Island.
New-Caleonia is blessed with a regular trade wind blowing almost all of the year around from the East, South-East. The hottest thermometer readings are in December, January and February, when the shade temperature averages 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. This is also the season when cyclones can be expected. In our cool season which starts say beginning of May, the day temperature is 66 Fahrenheit but it is often much cooler, dropping as low as 50 and in the mountains it often goes as low as 45 degrees.
The climate of New-Caledonia is reputedly very healthy and the island is absolutely free of malaria fevers. The malarial mosquito does not exist here, as strange as it may seem when it is remembered that only a few hundred miles away the New-Hebrides is a hot-bed of malaria. The belief is that the presence in New-Caledonia of the "niaouli" tree is responsible for the absence of the malaria mosquito.
The present population of New-Caledonia is in round figures:
White population 17,000
Native population 30,000
Indo-Chinese and Javanese 8,000
making a total of 55,000
There is not doubt that the native population was very much larger before the advent of the whites. It has been variously estimated as high as 100,000. No census was possible for many years while the natives still lives as savages in their numerous tribes, but many signs still remain to-day proving their past large numbers. The tribes were in almost constant warfare and mixed together but on rare occasions. The explains the fact that each region has even to-day its own separate language and many are the natives who at present have to converse in French amongst themselves.
One must bear in mind that less than 100 years ago, they had not yet had contact with the white man and that they were still in the stone age! Their axes were made of stone and they fought with bows and arrows. Their agricultural implements were carefully carved out of hard-wood and one marvels today how they managed to cultivate their large plantations. Prior to the settlement of the whites there was not a single quadrupede or mammal on the Island: this meant that apart from fish and birds their food was entirely derived from their plantations. Fortunately for them, the sea abounds with fish of all kinds and all tropical fruits and vegetables grow easily on the Island. Of course, they were cannibals and the bodies of their enemies killed in battle were the only "meat" at their disposal!
For the guidance of strangers, it may be mentioned that the natives do not like to be called or refered to as kanakas. To their mind it has a derogatory sense. When calling or adressing a native, call "boy". This word is accepted by them as being friendly and courteous.
Convict Settlement in New-Caledonia
For many years, the question of establishing a new convict settlement had been discussed and studied in France.
and by a decree signed on the 2nd September 1863, New Caledonia was finally designated as a convict settlement. On May 9th, 1864, a first batch of 250 convicts reached Noumea on the vessel "Iphigenie". From that date on, regular loads of convicts arrived and over 15,000 of these had landed on the Island before the last shipment reached the country in 1895.
Besides these convicts, over 3500 "political deportees" were sent to New Caledonia. These men were mostly leaders of the Parisian insurrection of march 1871 and were in no way comparable to the criminal element of the ordinary convict. Many of these "Communards" as they were called, were men of superior intellect and standing. A large number of them had held high positions in France. These "Cummunards" were treated on quite a different basis than the convicts and were eventually pardoned, with the right to return to France. Many however chose to remain in New-Caledonia and some of them eventually became highly respected leaders of civilian and commercial life in New-Caledonia. Their sons, and now also their grandsons are to-day numerous in the Colony.
To-day less than 100 of the original convicts are alive in the Colony, they are of course amongst those who had been convicted while still young men.
Mining is of course the mainstay of the Island, representing as it does 85% of the value of the exports. The second industry is coffee, and the islands production of roughly 2000 tons per annum was shipped to France where it was highly quoted owing to its superior quality. Next in importance is the cattle raising industry.
As previously stated the mining industry is by far the most important one on the island. Practically every mineral known exists in New-Caledonia, but at present nickel and chrome are the only ones exported. Nickel ore is found in all regions, but those of Thio, Voh, Kone, Nepoui etc. are the most important.
Nickel is mined by open cuts and ore is treated as low as 3.5 % nickel contents. Prior to the war, regular shipments were made to Japan as well as to Germany where this ore was treated. To-day, all of the ore mined is treated by the smelting works at Noumea. A matte is produced with roughly 80% nickel, and this matte is exported (previously to France) for further treatment and refining.
As to the chrome ore, it is mined by shafts and tunnels. It is now practically all shipped to the USA. Many small mines are at work throughout the island, but the three largest ones are in the northern-most part of New-Caledonia. One of these three is American owned and operated.
Huge iron-ore deposits exist also in New-Caledonia and until the war, Japanese interests were working one of them at Goro, in the South. This ore was regularly shipped to Japan.
THE JAPANESE QUESTION OF NEW CALEDONIA
The first Japanese imported into New Caledonia were coolies intended for the mines. This was late in the last century. They were brought in under a 3 or 5 years contract When their time expired, many chose to remain in the country. They numbered at one time nearly 5000, but at the last census several years ago, they had dwindled down to 1200.
These were mostly old men who had been in the country many years and had settled down to a peaceful and orderly life. It must in all sincerity be admitted that the great bulk of them were industrious and law-abiding. Many of them had small country stores, also in the town of Noumea they were gradually getting more and more into the local trade. What helped them a great deal was that not only the natives, but also all the indentured labor (Javanese and Tonkinese) felt more at ease in their shops than when going into a shop where a white man would serve them. Besides the many small retail shops, the barbering, the tailoring and other such establishments were until recently Japanese owned and managed. As to the vegetable gardens, they were, but with few exceptions, cultivated by the Japanese.
Generally speaking, the Japanese element in New-Caledonia was trustworthy and honest in business matters. Now, for good reasons unnecessary to explain, they have all been put out of harm's wary.
REVOLUTION IN NEW- CALEDONIA
This small brochure, is meant to answer the many questions asked by the welcome newcomers to this country but for the time being this writer prefers to describe this event in as few words as possible "Apres la guerre", much more will be said about it.
On 19th September 1940, the great bulk of the Caledonians revolted openly, and in arms, against the government in power. Martial law had been officially declared; by an altogether overwhelming majority the population of the country refused to obey this order which was so entirely contrary to their thoughts and sentiments. We had been stunned by the defeat of France, our mother country, and to the last we would fight on.
Nevertheless, for the time being we were under the Vichy government, whether we liked it or not, and Colonel Denis was appointed to succeed Pelissier as Gouverneur. It must be mentioned that Colonel Denis was at the same time Chief Commanding Officer of the French Forces in New-Caledonia.
After a very short parley, the gates were thrown open and Sautot entered. Gouverneur Denis was taken prisoner and put on parole at a forced residence at La Foa. The day was won and Gouverneur Sautot who has administered New-Caledonia ever since is today a national hero every Caledonian looks up to with respect and admiration.
Before ending this short outline of New Caledonia, the writer wishes to express to all the American troops his sincere and grateful welcome to our little Island. These sentiments are shared by all Caledonians. Not only are we anxious to treat them, one and all, as we would our own sons, but we know that the presence of this Army on our soil means that, as ever, the Star Spangled Banner will sooner or later be at the very front of VICTORY.