Operation Strawboard

This was the US geographical rather than operational codename for the French island of Uvea in the Wallis islands group in the Pacific Ocean (1941/45).

Uvea is the main island of the Wallis islands group, and is located 250 miles (400 km) to the west of Western Samoa and 490 miles (790 km) to the north-east of the Fiji islands group. The main island is about 8 miles (12.9 km) long and 5 miles (8 km) wide with an area of 29.9 sq miles (96 km˛). Enclosed by a reef, Uvea is a relatively flat, with a maximum elevation of 476 ft (145 m), and is of volcanic origin. This latter had given the island’s soil considerable fertility. The island is covered with jungle. There were undeveloped anchorages at Mua Harbour in the south of the island, and at Mata Utu Harbour to its east enclosed by the reef and somewhat protected by islets. Both anchorages are accessed by the Honikulu Passage in the southern side of the reef. There are two additional deep passes on the west of the reef. The population in 1940 was 300 French and 4,200 Polynesians. The only product of importance was copra, and Mata Utu Harbour had only the barest facilities.

Elements of the 8th Marine Defense Battalion and one battalion of the 7th Marine Regiment arrived on 29 May 1942 to garrison the island. These were followed in June by Seabee construction troops, who began construction of a 6,000-ft (1830-m) runway, which was completed in October. This was followed by a 5,000-ft (1525-m) fighter runway. The base was closed in July 1944.