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 Letter From An Unnamed Member Of HMS Shah At St. Helena

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Petty Officer Tom

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PostSubject: Letter From An Unnamed Member Of HMS Shah At St. Helena   Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:04 pm

H.M.S. Shah, St, Helena, Feb. 12th

“On our arrival here a week since, having had a pleasant run from Valparaiso and the Straits of Magellan, we found this dull little island in a state of unprecedented commotion, news having been received of the disaster to our arms in the Zulu country.  There followed a series of conferences between Captain R. Bradshaw, who is in temporary command of the Shah, bringing her home, the Governor of the island (Mr. H. B. Janisch), and the officers of the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, and the portions of the 88th Regiment stationed on the island.  The result was a decision to send to Natal in the Shah almost the entire strength of the garrison – namely, three companies of the 88th Regiment and the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers on the island – in all, over 200 men; thus almost denuding St. Helena of its defensive forces.  As we have also on board an unusually large number of blue-jackets and marines, relieved from various ships, we shall be able to land a very respectable party on our arrival at Durban, for which place we sail this evening.  I need hardly say that on it becoming known on board that we were going to be depatched to avenge the massacre of many of our countrymen the greatest enthusiasm prevailed, and we all are now eager to be off.  There are, we hear, some grumblers, but we have yet to learn that the Kaffirs have a navy, or are likely to invade St. Helena.  Sensible people are satisfied with the decision of the Governor, on whom, of course, rests the chief responsibility, although the colonel in command, Colonel Phillips, and Captain Bradshaw both cordially concur.  There is a contention as to who took the initiative in making the suggestion; but praise is due to all concerned.  The little paper published here – the St. Helena Guardian – I observe declares it to be a subject for ‘great congratulation that the island has a Governor equal to an emergency like that which has arisen;’ and, in remembrance of his former visits to the island in command of other ships, speaks of Captain Bradshaw as one ‘whose name is synonymous with goodness and hospitality.’  He expects to arrive at Natal about the 20th inst., and will be ready to go to the front immediately if required.”

(Source: The Western Morning News, March 15, 1879)

Tom
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