Volume 12 Number 2/3
October, 1996
earhart logoearhart logoParadise Lost
1945 On January 25 Lt. Col. Huggins returns and instructs the settlers to devote more time to planting and less to village maintenance.

Sometime in “the late war years” a large four-engined aircraft is reported to have crashed on Sydney Island two hundred miles to the east. Details are not clear, but supposedly the bodies of the crew were recovered and the wreck abandoned to be salvaged for useful metal by the local settlers. This is probably the source of a few B-24 parts which later turned up on Gardner. During the time that the USCG Loran station was at Gardner, PBY’s delivered mail and perishable supplies. Records still exist for all of those flights. On no occasion was an aircraft reported lost or even damaged at Gardner Island.

In December the Loran station is de-activated and abandoned.

1946 In March a Coast Guard work crew disassembles and secures the station’s Loran gear in the Quonset huts formerly used as living quarters. Floyd Kilts, a Chief Carpenter’s Mate involved in this work, later (in 1960) tells a San Diego newspaper reporter that one of the Gilbertese told him of “the skeleton of a woman with American shoes and the skull of a man” found by the island’s first settlers in 1938.
1947 In June a new supervisor-magistrate, Aram Tamia, is appointed to try to speed up development of the colony which is deemed to have stagnated during the war years. As a youth Aram Tamia had served as Gallagher’s personal assistant. A visit by Chief Lands Commissioner B.C. Cartland and District Officer McKenzie finds the situation “even less satisfactory than had been thought.”
1948 Further official visits during the year confirmed a need for a re-organization of the colony.
1949 On January 2 Lands Commissioner Paul B. Laxton arrived to give the settlers a choice between repatriation to the Gilbert islands or committing to further development of the atoll under a system of land grants and leaseholdings. Six families elected to leave, three of whom were among the first colonists, but the remainder stayed. The village was moved to the site “originally selected by Mr. Gallagher, freeing the main area of developed trees for a leasehold party selected from Manra (Sydney Island).” These Sydney residents may have brought with them a few useful pieces of aluminum salvaged from the wartime crash on that island.
1953 A new aerial photo survey of the island shows the enlarged settlement. During this period the island reached its maximum population of nearly 100 people.
1963 Yet another severe drought damages the coconut plantations and prompts a British decision to abandon the colony. A channel is blasted through the reef at the island’s west end to facilitate the evacuation and the process of resettling the island’s residents 2,000 miles to the island of Vaghena in the Solomons is begun.
1964 A scientific party from the Smithsonian Institution visits the atoll to study the bird and plant life. Only a few residents remain to be moved.

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