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1955: US evacuates Pacific islands

The American Navy has moved thousands of people from the Chinese Nationalist Tachen Islands.

Communist forces on the Chinese mainland - within firing distance of the Tachens - have been threatening the Nationalist strongholds for several weeks.

The US Senate agreed the Chinese-American defence treaty two days ago to protect the anti-Communist, Nationalist power-base of Formosa (now called Taiwan) - regarded as the key to US security in the western Pacific.

Vice-Admiral Pride of America's Seventh Fleet announced nearly 14,000 civilians have been taken from both North and South Tachen to the port of Keelung on the Nationalist island of Formosa.

'Satisfactory thus far'

American Ambassador Mr Rankin and Chief of the American Advisory Group, Major General Chase, have made an inspection trip to the Tachens and expect they will be completely evacuated - of 18,000 civilians and 15,000 troops - by the weekend.

Admiral Pride claimed North Tachen had been completely cleared of civilians by Tuesday evening (8 February) in an operation he described as "satisfactory thus far".

His command of about two dozen evacuation ships worked through the night to embark civilians from the south island.

Communist forces have not interfered with the transportation process, but a statement from the Seventh Fleet revealed there had been anti-aircraft fire from Communist controlled islands against American aircraft patrolling the area.

The Americans have confirmed more than 400 carrier-based aircraft sorties in the past 44 hours.

US Task Force 77- including five aircraft carriers - is on hand to counter what its commander, Admiral Ring, calls "sneak attacks" by the Chinese Communists.

After sweeping the straits for mines, the American fleet began the mass movement of people two days ago.

The first group they rescued - on board the 16 tonne transporter Henrico - consisted oof approximately 100 over 65-year-olds.

Altogether the American force has the capacity to carry about 25,000 people between the Tachens and Formosa, 200 miles to the south.

In Context
The US State Department announced they had completed the evacuation of the Tachen Islands on 11 February.

They used 132 boats and 400 aircraft to move 14,500 civilians, 10,000 Nationalist troops and 4,000 guerrillas, along with 40,000 tons of military equipment and supplies.

Three days later Chinese Communist forces invaded and overran the Tachen Islands.

The American Seventh Fleet returned to its normal Pacific bases and training areas, although a fleet of Sabrejets remained on Formosa.

US intervention in this region ensured the independence of the Nationalist Republic of China under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek.

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