Archive for May, 2017

A TALE OF TWO FLEETS

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

JANUARY 1788 – THE ‘FIRST FLEET’ – AN INVASION FLEET MORTALITY – 4%

‘In writing of the recruitment of criminals into the armed forces, Stephen Conway observed, ‘It was still found necessary periodically to clear both the putrid and congested gaols and the equally overcrowded and insanitary hulks’. Conway, cited in Alan Frost, Botany Bay Mirages, Melbourne University Press, 1994.

Between January 1787 and mid-May 1787 a large squadron of eleven (11) ships, known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’, assembled at Portsmouth, England.

One-half of the complement, 1500 souls, were convicted criminals. Many of its 570 male convicted criminals taken from ‘overcrowded and insanitary hulks’.

‘In determining the daily ration no distinction was drawn between marines and [male] convicts…the standard adopted was that of troops serving in the West Indies’. Wilfrid Oldham, Britain’s Convicts to the Colonies, Library of Australian History, 1993

1787 – 13 May, England: The ‘First Fleet’ sailed from Portsmouth on 13 May 1787, to invade the island continent of New Holland. Commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN. This combined military and naval expeditionary force was fully funded by the British Government.  See: Apollo 11 – Fly Me To The Moon: Portsmouth – Tenerife – Rio  – Cape Town – Botany Bay – Sydney Cove.

I stark contrast to their treatment on the hulks or in England’s ‘putrid gaols’, the convicts were well fed and exercised. Mortality on the ‘First Fleet was reckoned at 4%.

Britain’s move on New Holland followed closely on the loss of her ’empire in the west’. There can be little doubt ‘the exact purpose[s] of the settlement’ was driven by Britain’s profound humiliation following her defeat at the hands of both French regular forces and America’s Patriot militia.

The Treaty Of Versailles signed in September 1783 brought an end to the War of American Independence (1775-83). England’s thirteen (13) former colonies New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Delaware, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia were formally recognised as the United States of America.

‘In November [1784] Henry Dundas, possibly Pitt’s closest advisor, warned that ‘India’ is the first quarter to be attacked, we must never lose sight of keeping such a force there as well be sufficient to baffle or surprise’. Dundas, cited Michael Pembroke, Arthur Phillip Sailor Mercenary Governor Spy, Harper Grant Books, Victoria, 2013

The loss of her American colonies fuelled a fierce determination to reset the strategic, territorial and trade balance of power via dominance of secure safe alternate sea routes to and from India and China.

‘I need not enlarge on the benefit of stationing a large body of troops in New South Wales…New Holland is a blind, then, when we want to add to the military strength of India’. Anon. Historical Records of New South Wales.

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ABANDONED & LEFT TO STARVE AT SYDNEY COVE JANUARY 1788 TO JULY 1790

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

1790 – 1 June, Sydney Cove: ‘No communication whatever having passed with our native country since the 13th May 1787, the day of our departure from Portsmouth…from the intelligence of our friends and connections we had been entirely cut off…the misery and horror of such a situation cannot be imparted, even by those who have suffered under it’. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

1790 – the weekly ration; ‘without distinction…to every child of more than eighteen (18] months old and to every grown person two [2] pounds of pork, two and a half [2½] pounds of flour, two [2] pounds of rice, or a quart of pease, per week…To every child under eighteen [18] months old, the same quantity of rice and flour, and one [1] pound of pork.

When the age of this provision is recollected, its inadequacy will more strikingly appear. The pork…from England had been salted between three [3] and four [4] years… a daily morsel toast[ed] on a fork catching the drops on a slice of bread, or in a saucer of rice…every grain was a moving body from the inhabitants lodged within it…flour brought from the Cape by Sirius [May 1789] soldiers and convicts used to boil it up with greens’. Tench op.cit.

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ALL THE KING’S MEN-THE CRIMINALS OF THE ‘FIRST FLEET’

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

. ‘In determining the daily ration no distinction was drawn between the marines and [male] convicts…the standard adopted was that of the troops serving in the West Indies’. Wilfrid Oldham, Britain’s Convicts to the Colonies, ed. E. Hugh Oldham, Library of Australian History, Sydney 1990

1787 – 13 May, Portsmouth: The ‘First Fleet’ an armed squadron of eleven (11) ships commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN sailed from England to invade the island continent of New Holland.

Of its overwhelmingly male complement, 1500 souls, seven hundred and fifty (750) were convicted criminals. Five hundred and eighty male (580) male convicts ‘fed as troops serving in the West Indies’ were available for combat. See: April Fools Day

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