Archive for March, 2018

A HATCHET JOB: HEADS OFF THE BIDGIGAL OF BOTANY BAY

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

‘In war the trophy head is a mark of supremacy and respect’. Frances Larson, Severed, Granta, 2015

1790 – 13 December, Sydney Cove: ‘The author of this publication [Captain Watkin Tench] received a direction to attend the governor [Arthur Phillip] at head quarters immediately.

I went, and his excellency informed me, that he had pitched upon me to execute the foregoing command…infuse universal terror…convince them of our superiority… if practicable, to bring away two [2] natives as prisoners and to put to death ten [10]. That we were to cut off, and bring in the heads of the slain, for which purpose, hatchets and bags would be furnished.

We were to proceed to the north arm of the [Botany] bay…destroy all weapons of war: no hut was to be burned: that all women and children were to remain uninjured’.  Marine Captain Watkin, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhadinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

Can we know what drove Governor Phillip’s ferocity? Yes we can – simmering rebellion centred on ‘certain  officers’ of the newly arrived New South Wales Corps (June 1790)  in particular Lieutenant John Macarthur.

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A LETHAL WEAPON: SMALLPOX – BOSTON 1775; ROBERT ROSS & DAVID COLLINS – SYDNEY 1789; MAJOR ROSS & CAPTAIN COLLINS

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

BOSTON:

‘From time to time throughout history, peoples and governments around the world have used micro-organisms as efficient and cost-effective weapons of mass destruction. In 1763, in the earliest recorded deliberate release of a virus, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, British Commander-in-Chief in North America, authorized the distribution of smallpox-contaminated blankets to native Americans who were harassing European settlers around the garrison at Fort Pitt in Pennsylvania’. Professor Dorothy H. Crawford, The Invisible Enemy, Edinburgh University Press, 2000.

Britain & the North American Indian Wars: Britain’s General Thomas Gage served as second-in-command to General Amherst during the Indian Wars he was implicated in the distribution of blankets infected with smallpox, specifically among Indian tribes at Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh.

 ‘We gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital, I hope it will have the desired effect. “This act had the sanction of an impressive array of British officers, including Sir Jeffery Amherst, commander in chief at the time, and General Thomas Gage, who replaced Amherst and signed off on reimbursements for the “Sundries” used ” to convoy the Smallpox to the Indians”. Cited in Pox Americana: Professor Elizabeth A. Fenn, The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82, 2001

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A BIOLOGICAL WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION – SMALLPOX APRIL 1789

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

‘From time to time throughout history, peoples and governments around the world have used micro-organisms as efficient and cost-effective weapons of mass destruction’. Professor Dorothy H. Crawford, The Invisible Enemy, Edinburgh University Press, 2000

1788 – 18 January, Botany Bay: At 2.15pm on 18 January 1788 HMS Supply, one (1) of a large armed convoy of eleven (11) ships known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’ with a complement of 1500 souls (one-half convicted criminals) anchored in the entrance to Botany Bay, New Holland now Australia.

‘The main battle was about having enough to eat’. The Story of Australia, Don, 1984.

See: Abandoned and Left To Starve Sydney January 1788 to June 1790

Captain Arthur Phillip RN the fleet commander was told more convicts and supplies would ‘follow shortly’ from England when no supply ships arrived it became clear survival would depend on appropriating fish and crustacean, the local Aborigines’ primary source of protein.

Fish was plentiful during Sydney’s summer months and HMS Sirius and Supply’s trawling nets were deployed daily, as much as ‘400 hundred weight of fish being taken up…’

Weeks passed to months and still no relief. Winter came fish was scarce, two (2) populations – one indigenous one introduced – competed with increasing hostility for the same resources.

1788 – 2 October, Africa: HMS Sirius departed Sydney on a perilous lone voyage to the Cape of Good Hope where Captain John Hunter RN was to buy food and medicines from the Dutch at Cape Town. The passage via Cape Horne was estimated to take six (6) months.

1789

1789 – April: ‘A smallpox epidemic struck the Aboriginal population round Sydney. Inexplicably, the epidemic did not affect the European population, but Phillip estimated that it resulted in the death of 50% of the local Aboriginal community. People of Australia, Macquarie Series, Ed. Bryce Fraser, 1998.

‘It is true, that our surgeons had brought out variolous (smallpox) matter in bottles’. Tench ibid.

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ARTHUR PHILLIP – SOLDIER SPY & A MILITARY CAMPAIGN HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

‘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

It was generally held until quite recently that Captain Arthur Phillip RN was ‘plucked from obscurity’ to command the ‘First Fleet’. But like ‘amity and kindness’, Australia’s foundation myth – benign colonisation – ‘U.K. Privy Council [11] Cooper V Stuart [1889] New South Wales…peacefully annexed’ – nothing could be further from the truth.

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

The key to the success of the ‘First Fleet’ was laid a decade earlier during Arthur Phillip’s four (4) year sojourn in Brazil. Seconded to the Portuguese Navy, based in Rio de Janeiro and fluent in Portuguese, Phillip had established good relations with Viceroy Lavradio.

When in August 1787 the fleet en-route to Botany Bay put into Rio for supplies Phillip found Marquess Vasconcelos, Lavradio’s successor,  too held him in high regard.

In the race for New Holland this proved vital to Britain’s victory over France on the cusp of ‘the greatest event of the late eighteenth century’  the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars – February 1793 to June 1815. See: Britain By A Short Half-Head Arthur Phillip and Jean Francois La Perouse

The win guaranteed Britain domination of the southern oceans and ease of access to India and its ample supply of one of the world’s most sought after natural resources. See: All that Glitters is not Gold (Shortly)

During Lord Sydney’s time as secretary of state, the Home Office was a clearing house. Its jurisdiction included overseeing of naval officers involved in trade regulation, secret service and special projects. As a result Sydney crossed paths with three men who left their mark on history – Horotio Nelson, William Bligh and Arthur Phillip. Lord Sydney [the life and times of Tommy Townshend] Andrew Tink, 2011.

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