Wednesday, 18 April 2018

WHY ST HELENA, ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST REMOTE ISLANDS, MAY BE OVERRUN IN 2016

WHY ST HELENA, ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST REMOTE ISLANDS, MAY BE OVERRUN IN 2016 

By Mary Holland, Conde Naste Traveller, 30th December 2015{4}
Will the site of Napoleon’s exile become a tourist destination in 2016? Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
Will the site of Napoleon’s exile become a tourist destination in 2016?
Some 122Km², St Helena is a tiny speck in the Atlantic Ocean with incredible history. It’s been nearly inaccessible - until now.
In the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, some 1,800 miles from the coast of South America and 1,200 miles from the southwest coast of Africa, sits a wildly beautiful volcanic island - a speck, if anything, on the world map. So far out is St Helena that it was chosen as the place of Napoleon Bonaparte’s exile and death; so inaccessible is this island, the only way to reach it is by boat. Factually speaking, it is one of the most remote islands in the world.
But for an island that’s only 122Km² and home to around 4,200 inhabitants, one of St Helena’s biggest draws is its hard-to-reach location: You won’t find hordes of tourists swinging their selfie sticks or locals trying to sell you trinkets on every corner. Those hoping to make it to St Helena can board the RMS Saint Helena, a working Royal Mail ship that makes the five-and-a-half day voyage every three weeks from Cape Town, South Africa. This may be a novel experience for tourists, but the inconvenient schedule and long journey make it difficult for the Saints - an affectionate name for the locals - to travel.
Come February 2016, this may all change with the completion of an on-island airport financed by the U.K. government. Comair, a South African company that operates British Airways flights, has already announced that it will be launching one weekly flight from Johannesburg, South Africa, every Saturday morning on a Boeing 737-800 that can carry up to 120 passengers. After an hour of turnaround time, the plane will leave St Helena and make the five-hour journey back to Johannesburg. And while one weekly flight may not seem like a lot, on an island that has never seen a commercial airplane, it’s akin to sending a spaceship to the Saints.
What exactly draws travelers by the boatload to this British colony in the middle of nowhere? Relatively unspoiled landscapes and untouched nature, for one: Beneath the shadow of what amounts to a soaring, ruined cathedral of volcanic rock is a rugged paradise, one of sand dunes and lush green hills and a coastline where dolphins and whales are often spotted. St Helena draws nature lovers and avid birders alike. Diana’s Peak National Park, home to 60 known native species of plants - 45 of which exist nowhere else in the world - is utterly pristine. In addition, the island’s mountains and subtropical climates make for exceptional coffee-growing conditions, and although farms are not abundant, it produces some of the best (and most expensive) coffee in the world. Caffeine consumption and spectacular natural beauty aside, St Helena is heavy on the history: The island is Britain’s second-oldest remaining overseas territory (just behind Bermuda), with vestiges of the East India Company - you dock at Jamestown Bay - and Napoleon’s tenure here (his residences, the Briars and Longwood, and his tomb, though not his final resting place, remain).
Flights between St Helena and South Africa will undoubtedly make it easier for the outside world to come in, as well as provide the Saints with smoother transportation to and from the island. Locals and international companies are already gearing up for the expected surge in tourism, and more hotels are set to open in the foreseeable future: Mantis Collection, whose eco-conscious boutique hotels dot remote landscapes around the world, is reportedly developing a four-star hotel on the island.
With new flights, new technology, and new hotels soon to come, old traditions on St Helena may inevitably be lost: The RMS Saint Helena, which has become part of the fabric of the island, will make her final voyage next year. For many visitors, the journey was half of the adventure, and some may think that allowing more access to the island will result in St Helena losing part of her charm. We’ll see if the Saints go marching out as well.

TOP OF THE LEAGUE

 

Printed in the St Helena Sentinel, 29th October 2015{4}
St Helena in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Destinations in the World
Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2016 Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
St Helena has been named one of the top ten places in the world for travellers to visit in 2016. After what Tom Hall from Lonely Planet called 14 million years in glorious geographic isolation the island is now being recognised as a great place for tourists.
Lonely Planet is the world’s leading travel media company and produces thousands of internationally-recognised guidebooks. This latest award for St Helena is part of their book Best in Travel 2016. The list which St Helena is on includes other destinations such as West Iceland, Transylvania in Romania, Hawaii, and Costa Verde in Brazil.
Enterprise St Helena’s chief executive Niall O’Keeffe said they are delighted with the recognition. The Governor claimed that this underlines how St Helena continues to achieve tremendous success on a global scale with limited resources, and Councillor Lawson Henry paid tribute to everyone in tourism on St Helena.
There will be a formal award ceremony in London on Sunday. It will be attended by Niall O’Keeffe, Kedell Worboys, Chanelle Marais and a representative from the UK Foreign Office.

REMOTE ST HELENA ISLAND WELCOMES FIRST FLIGHT

 

By Emma Weaver, The Guardian, 17th September 2015{4}
A new era arrives for the south Atlantic island of St Helena, one of the remotest places in the world, as it waves goodbye to the mail ship and welcomes its first flight
Jamestown the capital of St Helena viewed from James’ Bay Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
Jamestown, the capital of St Helena, viewed from James’ Bay
The first plane to land on one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world - so remote even Napoleon Bonaparte could not escape from it - touched down earlier this week.
After taking off from Johannesburg, the Beechcraft King Air 2000 travelled nearly 2,000km north-west to a dark speck of land that rises out of the Atlantic. Nothing but clouds normally pass above St Helena - which measures 17km by 10 and has a population of around 5,000 - but on 15thSeptember a twin-engine plane descended upon the tiny landmass. It was an unusual flight, to an unusual airport, in an unusual place.
St Helena is a British Overseas Territory that until now has been accessible only by the Royal Mail Ship St Helena (which offers journeys of between five days and nearly two months on its voyages between Cape Town, Ascension Island and the UK, among others). The recent test flight precedes the opening of St Helena airport in February 2016, one of the most significant developments in the island’s history.
The Beechcraft King Air 2000 plane lands at St Helena Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
The Beechcraft King Air 2000 plane lands at St Helena
The company contracted to construct the airport had never worked on a project of this scale, or of this type, before.
The set-up and mobilisation took a whole year, said Charles Schwarz, human relations manager for the Basil Read St Helena Airport Project. The isolation of the island and the logistics of getting every nut and bolt transported to the island by ship was challenging.
Transportation of materials was not the only obstacle to the construction. The geology of the island - which, as Charles Darwin put it rises abruptly like a huge black castle from the ocean - did not provide an obvious location for a runway, requiring 7.6 million metres³ of mountain to be blasted out and then land-filled in a neighbouring valley.
The RMS St Helena was built in 1989 specifically to supply the island Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
The RMS St Helena was built in 1989 specifically to supply the island
Most islanders are excited at the opportunities the airport will bring: quicker access to medical care, and quicker transportation for overseas islanders who take holiday time from work to journey home.
However, there is also disappointment at the loss of their ship, which will be decommissioned when the airport opens. The St Helena is the last working Royal Mail Ship and carries on a maritime tradition the island has had since its discovery in 1502.
Marlene Harris, assistant purser on the ship, has worked on board for 13 years. This ship is one-of-a-kind and will definitely be a loss to the island,she said. For some people, the ship is the holiday. They get on board and they experience St Helena through the workers, and through the food - including ‘Saint’ dishes such as stuffed tuna steaks, goat meat curry, and ‘bread and dance’ (or tomato paste sandwiches). They don’t want to fly; they want to do something special.
View of Half Tree Hollow from High Knoll Fort on St Helena Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
View of Half Tree Hollow from High Knoll Fort on St Helena
Pamela Ward Pearce, a St Helenian and recently-elected member of the island’s executive council, said the island has a lot to offer. The walking here provides some of the most starkly beautiful and spectacular landscapes, she says. And during certain months it’s possible to swim with whale sharks in the bay.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb - in the Alarm Forest district - and his final residence, Longwood House, offer tours, while the lack of light pollution allows for stunning views of the night sky.
With one flight successfully on the ground, St Helena will now prepare for the airport’s opening - and an expected increase in tourism. A 32-room hotel is planned (at the moment there are just a handful of guesthouses and B&Bs) but no company has been contracted to build it yet.
So far, British Airways Comair is the only airline set to operate the five-hour flight to St Helena from Johannesburg (at an estimated £600 return) on a Boeing 737-800. It will carry about 120 passengers and a small amount of cargo to and from the island every Saturday. In doing so, the little island in the middle of the South Atlantic will become a little less remote.
See alsoFly here •RMS St Helena

Monday, 26 March 2018

THE ALLURE AND ATTRACTIONS OF ST HELENA

THE ALLURE AND ATTRACTIONS OF ST HELENA 

By Michael Arkus, Lonely Planet, 4th September 2015{4}
It’s hard to think of an isolated speck of land more synonymous with inaccessibility than St Helena. After all, this seemingly lost island in the middle of the South Atlantic was chosen as the place of Napoleon’s final exile. But there is so much more here for the traveller - hike past soaring crags and through alpine meadows, take to the seas by boat, or explore historic villages, chatting with welcoming Saints (locals) at each passing.
The island of St Helena 1200 miles from Africa 1800 miles from South America Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
The island of St Helena: 1,200 miles from Africa, 1,800 miles from South America
Jamestown and its Georgian houses
Jamestown, the capital of St Helena, is neatly wedged between the Atlantic and the steep sides of a narrow ravine. Founded in 1659 by English colonists, and named after James II while he was still the Duke of York, Jamestown is home to several historic sites and numerous handsome Georgian manses. An informative museum contains artefacts and stories from the island’s long history, including the wooden crates that carted Napoleon’s belongings into exile. Behind the museum and past collection of old cannons is Jacob’s Ladder, a lung-busting set of 699 steep steps that precariously climb straight up the ravine to Half Tree Hollow - if not to heaven as their biblical predecessor, then at least to a heavenly view.
Back in town on a less lofty footing is one of many nods to Napoleon - an effigy of him in full regalia stands on the first-floor balcony of the Consulate Hotel, looking out at a blue mansion named after his nemesis, the Duke of Wellington. But, contrary to myth, the duke didn’t reside here during his visits - he passed his time in the now-demolished (Old) Porteous House.
Another site, one that would not look amiss in rural England, is St. James’ Church - it’s across a moat and through a gate beneath the restored castle fort.
Historic Jamestown with Jacob’s Ladder climbing up to Half Tree Hollow Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
Historic Jamestown, with Jacob’s Ladder climbing up to Half Tree Hollow
Half Tree Hollow and the crags above Jamestown
Visitors who climb Jacob’s Ladder past the wheeling and swooping of red-beaked, long-tailed white tropic birds will find themselves in Half Tree Hollow, St Helena’s largest town (for those of lesser stamina, cars and minibuses switchback up the road from Jamestown). No matter how you arrive, the vistas - over precipitous cliffs to the never-ending blues of the South Atlantic, down to Jamestown and inland to green mountains - are spectacular. Above Half Tree Hollow are the long walls and vast rounded keep of High Knoll Fort, which was built as a stronghold against invasion in 1798.
On the opposite side of the ravine to Half Tree Hollow is a trail (found off Napoleon Street in Jamestown) that climbs diagonally up the rock face to Rupert’s Bay, passing Munden’s Battery and centuries-old cannon emplacements that were built into the cliffs. Behind it, cliffs plunge vertically down to the Atlantic, while in front looms the stark black mass of St Helena’s Sugar Loaf, with its huge square hump crowning its summit.
Jonathan and the Plantation House
Set in a wooded valley a couple of miles from Jamestown is Plantation House, a Georgian mansion built in 1791-92. Its most distinguished resident is arguably not the governor, but Jonathan, a Seychelles tortoise who is more than 180 years old. When not snoozing, he moves across the lawn at a glacial pace in search of a meal. Vegetable allotments dot the slopes nearby, and a narrow cove stretches out to the South Atlantic. A side path from the house leads through thick woods and giant bamboo stands to slave graves from the mid-18th century.
Jonathan (St Helena’s oldest resident) and Plantation House Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
Jonathan (St Helena’s oldest resident) and Plantation House
Napoleon’s ‘homes’ away from home
Longwood House, Napoleon’s final abode, is a green-shuttered villa in the island’s emerald uplands. While it afforded the former emperor fine views of Flagstaff & The Barn, a conical emerald hill and massive oblong crag respectively, the temperatures here were not kind (it can be 10 degrees Fahrenheit lower than on the coast). Eleven of the rooms, each painted imperial green, contain much of Napoleon’s original furniture, as well busts of him and his wives. Look out for the two holes in the shutters where he is said to have cut openings for his telescope to spy on his guards.
Down a sloping green tunnel of trees not far from Longwood lies Geranium Valley, a peaceful flowery bower. Here, overlooking Devil’s Punch Bowl ravine, is where Napoleon was buried in 1821. The tomb had no name due to Anglo-French differences on the wording, and his body was eventually repatriated to Paris for a state funeral 19 years later. Prior to life at Longwood House, Napoleon spent seven weeks at Briars Pavilion, a single-roomed chalet in a valley surrounded by wooded hills. Inside, there’s a table and various Napoleonic memorabilia. Longwood and Briars have both been deeded to France, as shown by the French tricolour flying outside each.
Longwood House the final home of Napoleon Bonparte during his exile Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
Longwood House, the final home of Napoleon Bonparte during his exile
Post Box walks
The island’s stunning variance in terrain and petite size - just 10 miles long and no more than six miles wide - make it ideal for hiking. The community has created 20 ‘Post Box’ walks, some easy, some moderate, some very difficult. They are so named because at the end of each is a post box containing an ink stamp and a visitors’ book.
One near Jamestown leads to the impressive Heart Shaped Waterfall. Others, like Diana’s Peak, take visitors to lofty summits inaccessible by 4WD. Some access popular sights such as Sandy Bay Beach, but via starkly beautiful and treacherously precipitous slopes.
Hiker looking down to Sandy Bay St Helena Saint Helena Island Info Read articles about St Helena
Hiker looking down to Sandy Bay, St Helena
Rounding the ramparts by sea
A cruise round the island is the best way to experience St Helena’s impregnable natural fortifications. From the sea the massive crags are even more forbidding than from land - stark grey, black, sometimes with a scant dusting of green. There’s also no better way to take in the island’s marine life than from a boat. Three different species of dolphin regularly flirt with the surface, as do humpback whales during the austral winter. St Helena’s well preserved coral ecosystems and their accompanying endemic fish species make diving a welcome addition to any oceangoing foray.
Road tripping around St Helena
Taking to the road by car is a rewarding prospect on St Helena, with the landscape changing at every turn. Wildflowers, coffee plantations (Napoleon did love the brew here), waterfalls, stands of Norfolk pine and Australian eucalyptus, and carpets of New Zealand flax waving in the wind - it is a kaleidoscopic scene on so many levels. Above it all yellow canaries and crimson-bellied red cardinals add flashes of colour.
To the island’s southeast, the road twists precipitously above the brilliant green hill and red roofs of Sandy Bay village, its backdrop a huge green-dusted monolith called Lot and a frozen stormy sea of craggy ridges. Four jagged pinnacles tear at the sky - one of them Lot’s wife. At Sandy Bay Beach, the landscape becomes totally barren, the blue ocean frothing and spraying against dark black volcanic outcrops. The Gates of Chaos, massive crags on the razor sharp ridge above, conjure up a scene worthy of Planet of the Apes.

Friday, 27 October 2017

MYGREENPOD.COM ON ST HELENA

MYGREENPOD.COM ON ST HELENA 

By Katie, mygreenpod.com, 14th August 2015{3}
Martin Wright takes a Royal Mail ship to one of the world’s remotest inhabited islands
One-third of the way across the South Atlantic from Africa to America, in one of the emptiest oceans in the world, lies an extraordinary sliver of Britain. And in the middle of the sliver is a micro slice of France.
Named after the Saint’s day on which it was discovered - five centuries past - by astonished Portuguese sailors, St Helena is one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands. But it doesn’t always feel that way. Walk up Main Street in Jamestown, the ‘capital’, and you’ll find much that’s familiar - if a little out of time.
On the one hand you can imagine yourself in a Devon market town from the 1950s: the pace of life’s easy, with people gossiping on benches outside their whitewashed houses. On the other hand young men sport shades at the wheel of their 4x4s, flush from a spell of work on the military bases on Ascension Island or the Falklands, bass-heavy music hammering out of their stereos.
THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
mygreenpod.com St Helena 01 [Saint Helena Island Info:Read articles about St Helena ]
First, though, you have to get there. In 2016 St Helena’s first airport will open - and the island will be tugged sharply into the 21st century. For now, unless you own a yacht, you’ll spend five days and nights sailing out from Cape Town on the ‘Royal Mail Ship St Helena’.
Like the island, it’s one of a kind. Virtually everything that travels to or from the place does so on the ‘RMS’: people (living and dead), fridge freezers, cars, food… It’s the island’s sole lifeline - and the last in a line of ships built specially for the task.
The journey is a combination of the banal and the wild, with Bovril for elevenses, quiz nights and deck cricket - all with the wide, wild immensity of the blue sea all around, unblemished from horizon to horizon. The RMS strikes out far from the nearest shipping lanes, settlements or even flight paths. A hundred, a thousand, a million years ago, the outlook beyond the rail would have been the same. This really is the middle of nowhere.
Next year the RMS will be pensioned off and the first tourists will be jetting in from Johannesburg to a spanking new airport which, the government hopes, will catalyse economic development. It’s a big ask.
NAPOLEON AND THE STARS
mygreenpod.com St Helena 02 [Saint Helena Island Info:Read articles about St Helena ]
St Helena is a dependency in more than one sense of the word. Once a vital staging post on the journey east - before the Suez Canal stole its rite of passage - it’s now largely a subsidy economy. Many of the ‘Saints’, as the islanders refer to themselves, work for the government, or in government-owned businesses. Boosting tourism is key to prospects of a more independent, sustainable economy. And there is much for tourists to see.
Napoleon’s six years here - between Waterloo and his death in 1821 - already act as a tourist draw. The few acres comprising his house and tomb were given to France when Britain sought favour from Paris in the mid-19th century, and there is even a French consul general in residence to keep watch on this tiniest corner of La République.
The isolation that made St Helena suitable for tucking away an ex-Emperor attracts another sub species of tourist: stargazers. Far from any source of serious light pollution, the island has a quite astonishingly clear night sky. Stand in a valley sheltered even from the scattering of street lamps, and the stars seem so close you could almost pluck them by hand. Small wonder plans are afoot for it to become an official International Dark Sky Park.
AS FOR THE LANDSCAPE…
For a small island, the countryside is impressively varied. Starting from the coasts, bare, wave lapped cliffs rise to arid grassland and, in some cases, strips of rocky desert. The odd waft of sand serves as a reminder of a primeval sea floor, when the ocean was hundreds of metres higher than it is today.
This gives way to pasture - much of it bare, overgrazed and, in places, scarred with the red-earth gashes of gully erosion. There are swathes of quite English-looking countryside: hills and valleys intercut by winding, flower- banked lanes, a mix of pasture, plantation forest - pines, eucalypts - and patches of vegetable gardens.
Clinging to the ridge line of Diana’s Peak and Mount Actaeon is the cloud forest - a tangle of tree ferns, brackeny things and weird- looking, weirdly named spindly shrubs - ‘he cabbage’ and ‘she cabbage’.
Below the cloud forest, ever threatening to overwhelm it, is a vast blanket of flax - the pervasive relic of a Victorian attempt to inject a sense of industry into island life. Like most enterprise on St Helena this was a government- backed initiative; it provided the raw material for mail bags and a (barely) living wage for the islanders. The mills shut down in the ‘60s, but the flax remains, swallowing the ground, the big daddy of all the island’s (many) invasive species. From a distance it looks like a gorgeous sea of green, but beneath its photogenic surface it quietly smothered the native flora.
PLUNDERING PARADISE
mygreenpod.com St Helena 03 [Saint Helena Island Info:Read articles about St Helena ]
Passengers on the RMS are issued with leaflets on ‘biosecurity’ in an effort to keep the endemics clinging on. It’s an uphill struggle. Old prints show that, by the time the landscape was first recorded, it was already stripped bare of most of its original vegetation, the tree ferns and hardwoods that had once cloaked the land. The lethal combination of man and goat had done its work.
Despite discovering the island the Portuguese never settled there themselves; instead they built a chapel, planted fruit trees and left behind goats, pigs and sick sailors who were left to recover in what must, briefly, have been a tropical paradise of clear flowing streams, fruits and forest. The forest was raided for timber and fuel - and the goats, of course, stopped it from coming back. A typical pattern: man cuts, goat hoovers. In the face of such an onslaught, it didn’t take long for the forest to fail.
When the English came in the 17th century, they carried on the despoliation. One visitor wrote of seeing a thousand goats in a single field: with that strength in numbers the trees never stood a chance. The English tried to conserve the dwindling ‘Great Wood’ by building a wall around it. But the goats persisted, and the forest shrunk to isolated remnants, clinging on in crevices and high peaks.
WIREBIRDS AND BLUSHING SNAILS
mygreenpod.com St Helena 04 [Saint Helena Island Info:Read articles about St Helena ]
Conservationists remain optimistic that much can still be salvaged. With the support of the Department for International Development, the airport developers are restoring wetlands and helping with the creation of a ‘Millennium Forest’ to replace the Great Wood. Careful flax clearance is uncovering native species which, with impressive stubbornness, spring back to life. After years of retreat, the cloud forest is slowly gaining ground once again.
It’s not just conservation for the sake of it, either. Eco-tourism is a key part of the island’s offer, and with good reason. Dolphins, whales, whale sharks and bright blue angelfish circle the shoreline. St Helena has 50% of the UK’s endemic species, though few are of the charismatic megafauna (or flora) variety.
Instead, it’s a case of watch where you tread. Many are tiny: invertebrates skulking somewhere in the grasses, the coyly named blushing snail sliming along the tree ferns and the odd unremarkable flower or two. But there are more striking specimens, including the island’s unofficial emblem, the wirebird. This cute little plover, much predated by cats (feral and pet), is now fiercely protected. Cat traps are laid to catch prowling moggies: the pets are returned to their owners, the ferals put to terminal sleep.
SWAP SHIPS FOR PLANES, 4X4S FOR EVS
Replacing a ship with a plane hardly sounds sustainable, of course - but in terms of carbon it’s a close call. The environmental costs of feeding and fuelling a hundred or more people for a week at sea on a 30-year-old ship are far from negligible.
But for more decisive sustainability gains, the island needs to exploit its own resources. It’s recently opened a small solar farm to take advantage of all that tropical sun. When completed, this could supply 40% of the island’s power needs - replacing the diesel which, of course, has to be shipped in. There’s a longer term prospect of combining more solar with ocean thermal power in order to move close to self- sufficiency.
If islanders could be persuaded to swap their gas-guzzling 4x4s for electric vehicles, that could take it a step further down the sustainability track, as could converting some of the grazed-out pastures to vegetable gardens and horticulture.
None of this will come easy. Much depends on tourist dollars boosting government coffers - and on the ‘Saints’ themselves discovering an enthusiasm for sustainable enterprise. If those go together, St Helena could yet serve as an exemplary case study for small island sustainability the world over.

NAPOLEON AND ST HELENA

NAPOLEON AND ST HELENA 

By Brian Unwin{10}Washington Examiner, 8th August 2015{3}
Napoleon’s image [Saint Helena Island Info:Read articles about St Helena ]
Two hundred years ago, on Aug. 8th, 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte embarked at Plymouth on a British warship for the second time in his life. On this occasion it was the ship of the line, the Northumberland. The first time had been only just over three weeks before when, following his comprehensive defeat at the battle of Waterloo, and after agonizing days of indecision, he had surrendered near Rochefort on the French West coast to Captain Maitland of His Majesty’s Ship, Bellerophon, to be conveyed to England. His initial plan, after fleeing from Paris, had been to sail on a French frigate to America. But the Royal Navy had blockaded the port, leaving him little choice but to surrender.
He was not allowed to land at Plymouth while the British Cabinet decided what to do with him. Out of naivety or sheer effrontery he wrote to the Prince Regent, the future King George IV, to “throw myself upon the hospitality of the British people” and seek a comfortable residence somewhere in exile in England. But the government of Lord Liverpool, which had for years fought a life and death struggle with Napoleon, would have none of this and decided to send him to St Helena, a remote volcanic island in the South Atlantic, then in the possession of the British East India Company.
Accordingly, on Aug. 8th, Napoleon and his entourage were transferred kicking and screaming from the Bellerophon to the Northumberland to begin the long sea voyage to St Helena. They were accompanied by transport ships containing about 2,000 British troops, and an admiral in command of a small flotilla to keep a day and night watch on the island. Napoleon had escaped once from Elba and they were determined that he should not escape again.
St Helena has been a British possession since the mid-17th century and (until a new airport opens in 2016) remains one of the remotest inhabited places in the world, some 1,200 miles from Angola and2,000 miles from Brazil. The only regular means of reaching it is still by the last Royal Mail Ship, St Helena, which makes the week long journey from Cape Town every three weeks or so. Napoleon landed there on the 15th of October and was to spend the next five and a half years in captivity, living with his 35 or more loyal companions in Longwood House, a damp and rambling converted farmhouse, whose amenities were light years away from the luxury of the palaces he had occupied in Paris and other great European capitals. Though free to roam the grounds of the house, he could not go beyond them except in the company of a British officer, and every evening at sunset British sentries with bayonets fixed closed in on and surrounded the house.
Napoleon fought tooth and nail against the restrictions imposed on him, which he regarded as a violation of every conceivable international law. He particularly detested the British governor sent out to watch over him, General Sir Hudson Lowe, describing him as “like a hyena in a trap” or a “Sicilian brigand,” and refusing to see him again after only six meetings in the early months. Lowe was not the most imaginative of jailors, but he tried hard to supply Napoleon with all reasonable amenities and comforts - except his freedom. He suffered, however, from strict orders to offer Napoleon what he regarded as the greatest and most provocative of insults, to address him formally as General Bonaparte rather than as His Majesty the Emperor Napoleon.
At first Napoleon believed, or hoped, that the British government and its allies would relent and allow him to return to Europe. But as time progressed, and some of his most senior companions left the island, he began to realise that there was no hope and that he would end his days there. He spent more and more time in his precious warm bath and his physical and psychological condition deteriorated.
Napoleon died a miserable and painful death at Longwood on May 5th, 1821. Although there are many conspiracy theories, some attributing his death to arsenic poisoning, it was almost certainly due to stomach cancer, from which his father had died at an early age. He was buried in a simple unmarked grave on the island, although the British government allowed the French in 1840 to disinter him and transfer his body to France, where it lies in state at Les Invalides in Paris.
Napoleon was a giant of his age, a great general whose legal and administrative reforms have also shaped much of the governance of France and the rest of Europe to this day. His death was the epitome of classical tragedy, the abrupt descent of a great man from the highest to lowest state. His last recorded words on his death bed were, “France, mon fils, l’armée, Joséphine” (“France, army, head of the army, Joséphine”){11} - four of the things that were most dear to him. What he did not mention was the deaths of hundreds of thousands of young soldiers and civilians from France and other countries that his imperial adventures had caused.
See alsoNapoleon Bonaparte

FASLANE DIVERS CALLED IN TO CLEAR WRECK IN SOUTH ATLANTIC

FASLANE DIVERS CALLED IN TO CLEAR WRECK IN SOUTH ATLANTIC 

Published on thelochsidepress.com, 23rd July 2015{3}
Archive image of the RFA Darkdale after she had been torpedoed [Saint Helena Island Info:Read articles about St Helena ]
Archive image of the RFA Darkdale after she had been torpedoed
Royal Navy divers based at Faslane were called in to clear explosives from a wreck in the South Atlantic.
They were deployed to St Helena to work on the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Darkdale, a freighting tanker which refuelled warships during World War 2.
While at anchor in James Bay, she was torpedoed by German submarine U-68 in the early hours of October 22nd 1941, resulting in the loss of 41 crew members - with only two survivors.
The ship was split in two by the explosion, caught fire and sank within five minutes, remaining at a depth of 42 metres.
Members of the Fleet Diving Squadron above the Darkdale wreck [Saint Helena Island Info:Read articles about St Helena ]
Members of the Fleet Diving Squadron above the Darkdale wreck
In 2010, during a winter storm, the wreck released some of the oil that she had been carrying as cargo, leading to calls from the islanders who live in the British Overseas Territory for the Ministry of Defence to step in and prevent an environmental hazard.
The Northern Diving Group was sent from the Clyde, embarking on the RMS Saint Helena, the last operating Royal Mail Ship in the world and the only way to access the remote archipelago, which is 1,200 miles from the nearest land.
Using specialist equipment, divers were able to remain at depth for prolonged periods and went on to remove 38 large projectile items, totalling around 80kg of high explosives.
Lieutenant Olly Shepherd, who led the team, said: “It was an extremely challenging and remote location to work in, but the team performed exceptionally and we have successfully cleared the wreck of a significant explosive hazard. It certainly made a change from removing old ordnance around the freezing waters of the UK.
The clearance of the wreck allowed MoD salvage teams to start safely removing the trapped oil within the holding tanks of the wreck.
The operation is due to be complete by mid-August, allowing the wreck to remain safely in place as a haven for marine life.
The Royal Navy ship HMS Protector, moored off St Helena [Saint Helena Island Info:Read articles about St Helena ]
The Royal Navy ship HMS Protector, moored off St Helena
See alsoDiving • Lost Ships