Bicentenary of British Settlement celebrated by Ascension Island Post

Bicentenary of British Settlement celebrated by Ascension Island Post
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StampNews.com hurries to inform that Ascension Island Post is ready to release a series of stamps that celebrates Ascension Island's Bicentenary of British Settlement, showing historical scenes, paintings and illustrations from the Napoleonic Years.The issue consists of four stamps that are to be put into circulation on the 27th of April.

When Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was born no one could have supposed that he would rise to become Emperor of France and, due to his success in the Napoleonic Wars, become regarded as one of the greatest military commanders of all time. Similarly none could have imagined that the tiny uninhabited island of Ascension Island would become so transformed by his eventual defeat and exile to St Helena.

Ascension Island was allegedly discovered in 1501 by the explorer João da Nova, but it seems he did not register the discovery. Thus the island was re-discovered in 1503 by Afonso de Albuquerque who sighted the island on Ascension Day.

Being dry and barren, it had little appeal for passing ships although it was used irregularly by the East Indies fleets and others for collecting fresh meat. Mariners could hunt for seabirds and the enormous female green turtles that laid their eggs on the sandy beaches. The Portuguese also introduced goats as a potential source of meat for future mariners.

However, for Ascension Island, everything was to change in 1815. On 15th October 1815 a squadron under the command of Rear Admiral George Cockburn put into St Helena with the prisoner Napoleon Bonaparte aboard. Fearing that Ascension could be used by the French to launch a rescue mission Cockburn dispatched two brigs, HMS Zenobia and HMS Peruvian, to Ascension Island. On 22 October 1815 Captains White and Dobree came ashore, raised the Jack and claimed the island for His Britannic Majesty King George III. The Royal Navy officially designated the island as a stone frigate, "HMS Ascension", with the classification of "Sloop of War of the smaller class".

A naval garrison was established and in the following years British troops changed the whole place into a little town with houses built of stone, a fortress, a hospital and a shop store.

And so the garrison developed. Water was found at Dampier's Drip (143 gallons per day), in Breakneck Valley (300 gallons per day), and on Middleton's Ridge (300 gallons per day). The rocks lying close to Fort Cockburn were dressed with stone and turned into a landing place, (now the Pier head). A pond was constructed to keep turtles, and alongside this a small boat harbour was built.

1821 saw the death of Napoleon but rather than being abandoned Ascension became a victualling place and recuperation base for the West Africa Squadron then engaged in anti-slaving duties on the African Coast.

 

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