The Pacific War
When the Pacific war broke out in late 1941, the New Hebrides found itself caught in a precarious position due to its strategic position not far from the shipping routes between the US and Australia and in close proximity to Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands. And for that very reason it became home to a vast number of US Army, Navy and Air Force bases and hundreds of thousands of Allied troops during World War II. Without those bases, particularly those on Santo, the Allies wouldn’t have had the capability to thwart the Japanese invasions of Guadalcanal and the Solomons and prevent Japan’s ultimate push southwards towards Australia and New Zealand.
Following World War II, Britain and France continued to administer New Hebrides until 1980 when the islands were finally granted independence and formally known as Vanuatu.