Archive for March, 2017

MISSING IN ACTION – HMS SIRIUS & HMS SUPPLY

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Sydney – 5 April, 1790: ‘Dismay was painted on every countenance, when the tidings were proclaimed at Sydney’. Marine Captain Watkin, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L, Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

Norfolk Island  – 19 March 1790: the First Fleet’s flagship, while in the process of evacuating 50% of Sydney’s starving European population to Norfolk Island, ran aground on a submerged reef and sank. Her crew, one hundred and sixty naval (160) personnel, were marooned along with the evacuees.  See: Abandoned and Left to Starve @ Sydney Cove, January 1788 to June 1790

China: ‘Famine was approaching with gigantic strides’. Sirius was to have sailed on to China and arrange rescue. ‘Dismay’ all hope of rescue was gone.

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EYES WIDE SHUT – A MILITARY CAMPAIGN & ARTHUR PHILLIP

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

1790 – 13 December Sydney: ‘Bring in six [6] of those natives who reside near the head of Botany Bay; or if that should be found impractical…put that number to death…bring in the heads of the slain…bring away two [2] prisoners to execute in the most public and exemplary manner, in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collected’.  General Orders: Governor Arthur Phillip RN to Marine Captain Watkin Tench. Cited Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961.

1787 – 25 April – London: ‘Live in amity and kindness with them’; His Majesty King George III to Captain Arthur Phillip RN commander of a large armed squadron of eleven (11) ships – two (2) warships, six (6) troop transports, three (3) supply vessels, known in Britain as the ‘First Fleet’. See: A Riddle – When an invasion fleet was not an invasion fleet? When it’s the ‘First Fleet’.

Extravagant lies, none are more destructive than, ‘amity kindness’.

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CAPTAIN ARTHUR PHILLIP & COMTE JEAN-FRANCOIS La Perouse A BAND OF BROTHERS AND MORTAL ENEMIES

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

‘All was set in the mid-eighteenth century scene, the contest between Great Britain and the Bourbon powers…different branches of the family of Louis XVI…for sea supremacy and oceanic empire, which was the background of the life of every sailor of Cook’s Age’. J.A Williamson, Cook and the Opening of the Pacific, Hodder & Stoughton , London 1946

1785 and the race for New Holland was on. Britain having just lost the American War of Independence (1775-1783) and the thirteen (13) colonies that made up her ’empire in the west’ had missed the jump in the race to establish ‘sea supremacy’ in the Indian and Southern Oceans.

Brest – 1785, August 1:In 1785 Louis XVI quietly sent the  Comte de la Perouse with two ships La Boussole & L’Astrolabe to survey likely spots for French settlements. Aboard were copper plates engraved with the royal arms to be used as permanent notification of French ownership’. Michael Cannon, Australian Discovery and Exploration, 1987

Portsmouth – 1787, May 13: The ‘First Fleet, a large armed convoy of eleven (11) ships with a complement of upwards of 1500 souls, one-half convicted criminals ‘rationed as troops serving in the West Indies‘, commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN, sailed from England on 13th May 1787 to invade the island continent of New Holland, now Australia.

Fully funded by government the ‘First Fleet’ was an invasion fleet; ‘but not a hint of it shall ever transpire’. Anon, Bladen, Historical Records of New South Wales

Botany Bay –  January 18/20:  Within thirty-six (36) hours, after eight (8) months voyaging across 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of ‘imperfectly explored oceans’, the English convoy found safe anchorage in Botany Bay between 18 to 20 January 1788.

21 January: Next day Phillip with Captain  Hunter RN and other officers and marines set off in three (3) smalls ship’s boat to search for what in 1770 Captain Cook had named  ‘Port Jackson’.

Nine (9) miles (14 km) north of Botany Bay they found and entered its towering headlands into a magnificent harbour of it Phillip wrote ‘here a Thousand Sail of the Line may ride in the most perfect Security’.

Sydney Cove: ‘Four (4) miles’ within the vast excpance, from a myriad bays and inlets, Phillip settled on a ‘snug’ cove naming it after Lord Sydney.

23 January – Botany Bay: ‘The boats returned on the evening of the 23rd…it was determined the evacuation of Botany Bay should commence next morning’. Tench. ibid

24 January:  But ‘next morning ….suprize…at first I [Tench] only laughed’ two (2) French ships La Boussole and L’Astrolabe,  under command of Jean-Francois La Perouse stood off the entrance to Botany Bay.

Contrary winds,churning seas and the Sirius’ menacing cannon, forced the French ships to seek shelter at Point Sutherland.

Captain Phillip had not raised ‘English Colours’ at Port Jackson. ‘‘Consternation’   he needed to return there but was hampered by the bad weather.

25 January:   Not until after mid-day was Phillip able to quit Botany Bay aboard HMS Supply arriving just on nightfall of the 25th.

26 January – Sydney Cove:   At first light with his officers and marines Phillip landed and from a ‘hastily erected flag-staff’  the Union Jack of Queen was hoisted.

Governor Phillip proclaimed Britain’s victory over France.  See Australia – Britain By a Nose

Treacherous weather held up the English fleet’s departure from Botany Bay until the afternoon of the 26th when the fleet managed a dramatic exit and made for Sydney Cove.

Cross-currents and sudden wind shifts cross-currents very nearly cost lives and ships. Three (3) Charlotte, Friendship, Prince of Wales swung across each other coming near to crashing onto rocks.

HMS Sirius was last of the fleet to leave. Captain Hunter stayed to guide L’Astrolabe and La Boussole to safe anchorage in Botany Bay at a spot known today as Frenchmens Bay.

 By 6 pm on the evening of the 26th all English ships were riding at anchor alongside HMS Supply.

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MACARTHUR THE GREAT DISRUPTER & ARTHUR PHILLIP

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

‘What is the most arresting thing in all these recordings is the way in which they perceive Aboriginal Australians on not exactly equal terms, but on terms of people who have a right to the occupancy of this land’. Dr Nicholas Brown,  Australian National University and National Museum of Australia, on inclusion of some ‘First Fleet’ Journals onto UNESCO’s World Heritage List. AM Programme, Australian Broadcasting Commission, 15 October 2009

What went wrong?

Twenty-five regiments of British infantry served in the colonies between 1790 and 1870. They fought in one of the most prolonged frontier wars in the history of the British empire, and for the first half of their stay were probably more frequently in action than the garrison of any other colony besides that of southern Africa’. Dr Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison, The British Army In Australia 1788 to 1870, Kangaroo Press, 1986

The first Corps of infantry, raised  in October 1789 replaced the First Fleet’s four (4) companies of marines who departed England in the ‘First Fleet’ on the 13th of May 1787 to invade the island continent of New Holland, now Australia.

‘The great change came in the arrival with the Second Fleet of the first companies of the New South Wales Corps [among them] Lieutenant John Macarthaur – a central figure in the military ‘mafia’ which quickly established itself as Australia’s first governing and property elite’. Nigel Rigby, Peter van der Merwe, Glyn Williams, National Maritime Museum Greenwich, Pacific Explorations, Bloomsbury, Adlard Coles, London 2018

John ‘MacMafia’ Macarthur the teetotaller who put ‘firey India rum’ into the infamous New South Wales Rum Corps.

England – 16 October: 1789: ‘ War-Office – A Corps of Foot for New South Wales, Major Francis Grose of the late 96th Regiment is appointed to be Major Commandant’. The London Gazette, issue: 13140, October, 1789

Sydney – June 1790: The first contingent arrived with the second fleet at the end of June 1790. Among them; lowly placed  ‘Ensign M’acarthur, from the 68th Regiment, to be Lieutenant.

‘Macarthur’s haughty quarrelsome nature which manifested itself on the voyage was to provoke much more conflict after his arrival in New South Wales in June 1790’. Michael Flynn, The Second Fleet, Britain’s Grim Armada of 1790, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1993

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