National Geographic : 1943 Jan
72 The National Geographic Magazine Nukunau was sighted by Capt. John Byron (the poet's grandfather) of the British Navy in 1765. Most of the middle and northern islands were next discovered by Captains Gil bert and Marshall in 1788, and the rest had become known by 1828.* In 1892 the Gilbert group, together with the Ellice Islands directly to the south, was converted into a British Protectorate, which in 1915 became a Crown Colony. Administrative head quarters are at Ocean Is land (famous with Nauru for its phosphates), which lies some 250 miles west of the central Gilberts. The Colony is under the charge of a Resident Commis sioner, who is responsible to the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific res ident at Suva, Fiji. The only important prod uct of the 16 islands is copra, the sun-dried flesh of the coconut which is made to yield its oil to the soap manufacturers of civilization, its glycerine derived from the soap proc ess to the chemists, and its refuse to the makers of cow cake. The copra is not grown on organized plantations, for every square foot of land is owned by natives; it is made by the brown man and sold by him to local traders, who sell it in their turn to visiting ships. In this way, about 4,000 tons a year normally are exported to Australian ports. A twenty-mile flake of Japanese Snipers Fired from Such Palm Treetops at coral sand, curved like a the Marines * In 1841 two ships of Lieut. To this Gilbertese his lofty perch is merely a cool place to enjoy a drink Charles Wilkes, of the United of coconut milk, but to the Japs such eyries were ready-made ambush States Exploring Expedition, nests. Sharpshooters were lashed in them for several days before the visited the group and made a August 17 raid. When asked how close the Japanese bullets came to him, careful survey, upon which Major James Roosevelt replied concerning the snipers, "We got 'em." later charts were based.