FIJI SUN | TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 2020 | FIJISUN.COM.FJ The Fiji Infantry Regiment Operations in World War II RFMF O the war progressed. Fijians served in Guadalcanal, Florida Island [Nggela], New Georgia, and Vella Lavella. Focus then turned to Bougainville. The following is a short recount of the Fiji Infantry Regiment’s operational service in Bougainville, during which Corporal Sukanaivalu was awarded the Victoria Cross. n June 23, 1944, 76 years ago today, Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu VC, 3rd Battalion, Fiji Infantry Regiment knowingly sacrificed his life on a Bougainville battlefield to safeguard the lives of his men. The extraordinary courage of Corporal Sukanaivalu was recognised by the Commonwealth’s highest military honour, the Victoria Cross. It is therefore today, June 23, that CPL Sukanaivalu’s comrades of the Fiji Infantry Regiment both commemorate his sacrifice and celebrate the achievements of Fiji’s armed forces in the decades since. Today is Infantry Day. From Zimbabwe, to the Golan Heights, the Sinai, Timor-Leste, Bougainville, Solomon Islands and Iraq, Fiji has served around the world. The Fiji Infantry Regiment’s first operations however were much closer to home, serving in the Pacific theatre of World War II. Originally focussed on defence of the Colony under New Zealand command, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces shifted to support the island-hopping American forces as How it all began In early November 1943, the United States Marine Corps conducted amphibious landings at Cape Torokina in Empress Augusta Bay. Succeeding in establishing a beachhead, US forces quickly built airfields and expanded their control. Before the end of the year, command had changed over to the United States’ Army American Division XIV Corps, under Major General Oscar Griswold. It was here that Fiji’s units served under the XIV Corps. The 1st Battalion arrived in Bougainville in December 1943 and commenced patrols in the thick jungle on Christmas Day. Scouting to seek out enemy locations were crucial as aerial surveillance was INSET: inadequate. There were frequent skirmishes with the enemy, resulting in losses on both sides. The 1st Battalion was selected to establish a forward post in the former missionary station in Ibu, some 55-kilometres northeast the safety of Cape Torokina. The path to Ibu was considered tortuous: mountainous, broken by ravines, valleys, and highlands which altered between sweltering of heat, torrential rain, and icy gusts. The journey took five days. However, the information from Fiji’s patrols provided on enemy locations and movements was invaluable. Major General Griswold held
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