Modern History of the Republic of the Marshall Islands  1914 - 1952

1914-1919    The Marshall Islands were occupied by the Japanese during WW I.

1939-1945    The Marshall islands were captured by US forces during WW II.
1940s-1950s    The US conducted 67 above ground nuclear and thermonuclear tests in the Marshall Islands.
1942   Feb 1, Planes of the U.S. Pacific fleet attacked Japanese bases in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands.


1943   Dec 8, U.S. carriers sank two cruisers and down 72 planes in the Marshall Islands, Allied invasion of the Marshalls begins and occupation results
1944    Jan 31, During World War II, U.S. forces under Vice Adm. Spruance began invading Kwajalein Atoll and other parts of the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.

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Battle of Kwajalein - 1944

Bob Hope entertaining troops in The Marshall Islands, 1944

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Battle of Kwajalein, 1944.  American

     soldiers with a Japanese P.O.W. 

Japanese bunker, Wotje Atoll, 1990

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1944    Feb 17, U.S forces landed on Eniwetok atoll in the South Pacific Marshall Islands. Battle of Eniwetok Atoll began. US victory on Feb 22.
1944    Feb 20, US took Eniwetok Island.
1944    Oct 28, The first B-29 Superfortress bomber mission flew from the airfields in the Mariana Islands in a strike against the Japanese base at Truk.
1945-1986 At the end of World War II control of the Marshall Islands was granted to the U.S.A. and it remained in control as part of a unique UN Strategic Trust Agreement.  Article 6 required the U.S. to "Protect the health of the inhabitants" . . . And to "Protect the inhabitants against the loss of their lands and resources." 
Go here for the original United Nations Strategic Trust Agreement of 1947:


Commodore Ben Wyatt [C] arriving at Bikini in early 1946 to tell Iroij Juda [L] that after living on Bikini for 2,000 years they must immediately move for the series of A-tests called "Operation Crossroads"

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The people of Bikini departing for their so-called "temporary" abandonment of their ancient homeland in 1946, giving new meaning to the word "temporary" since they are still without their traditional home.

1946-1958    The US conducted 67 nuclear test blasts at the Bikini and Eniwetok atolls over this period. The tests in the northern Marshall Islands released radioactive iodine said to be 150 times worse than the contamination from Chernobyl in 1986. A Nuclear Claims Tribunal was later set up by the government of the US and the Marshall Islands to compensate those displaced or suffering health problems due to the tests. The 150 million dollars the US provided for paying settlements ran out in 2005. The US State Department said there is no obligation to pay more.

1952 Nov 1, The United States exploded the first hydrogen bomb, codenamed "Ivy Mike," in a test at Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. The element einsteinium was discovered in the debris of the 1st hydrogen bomb test. In 2002 Greg Herken authored "Brotherhood of the Bomb: the Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence and Edward Teller."


This 88-ton building was essentially a gigantic refrigerator to keep the liquid H-bomb fuel, lithium-deuteride cooled.  This was the first successful ex-plosion of a hydrogen "device" insofar as it could not be used as a weapon. Note the men in the fore- ground to provide scale of this unit on Elugelab, Enewetak, November 1, 1952.  The vertical "sausage"

[L] contained the liquid lithium-deuterium fuel.

Ivy-"Mike" [short for Micronesia, btw] was equivalent to 750 Hiroshima atomic [fission] bombs, and was history's first hydrogen

[fusion] bomb.  The trick now was to miniaturize an H-bomb that could be deliverable in an airplane. 


Click here for more on the "History of Nuclear Testing" and to learn about 'Bravo."