23 Apr 2018

23 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Twenty Five: An Afternoon Of History On Ascension Island

After a great morning on Ascension Island visiting Green Mountain, it was time to spent some of the lower slopes of the island & have a look around Georgetown. The first stop after lunch was the gun emplacements of Fort Bedford above Georgetown. There were guns from various eras in the island's history.
These two 7 inch guns were manufactured in 1866
A close up of the 7 inch guns
It is a good thing I didn't have any complaints about the service on the Plancius
5.5 inch guns from HMS Hood: At the start of WWII, HMS Hood had her twelve 5.5 inch guns replaced with 4 inch guns for better protection against air attack. Two of the 5.5 inch guns were shipped to Georgetown to protect the colony. Sadly, HMS Hood was sunk, along with HMS Prince of Wales, in 1941 during the battle to try sinking the German battleship Bismarck & heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. These guns were used in anger in 1941 when German U-boat U-124 approached close to Ascension Island: it quickly departed. These guns were given a lot of TLC to preserve them in the 1980s
The view over Georgetown
The view over Long Beach
Green Turtle tracks on Long Beach
One of the interesting things about Georgetown is it doesn't appear to have changed much in the last 100 years. Therefore, unlike virtually any other UK colonial base, it has retained much of it's original layout & character. I'm not sure if that makes it a more comfortable place to live, but it makes it a very interesting place to visit.
Georgetown church: Georgetown has retained much of its colonial layout
The final stop was the Georgetown museum. As we were back in the town, we were free to look around the museum, wander around within the town boundaries including the old fortifications & check out the excellent air conditioning in the main food store. The museum was interesting with plenty on the history & natural history of the island.
This sign board next to the museum confirmed how isolated Ascension Island is: The surrounding vegetation is Mexican Thorn Bush which is an Acacia-like bush. Obviously, it is introduced & the Conservation Dept is trying to clear it from parts of the island as it helps provide cover for the introduced Rats which are a significant cause for concern for the Seabirds breeding on Ascension Island
More historical cannons: You are never too far from history in Georgetown
Another cannon by the museum
Sgt Davies's Jeep: This is the only surviving Jeep from WWII and was used by some of the American soldiers who were based on Ascension Island during the war & who build the runway
4.7 Inch Quick Fire Gun: This gun dates to 1895 & was of two originally mounted in Fort Hayes along with a six inch gun to protect Georgetown during WWI
Fort Hayes: The garrison in WWI was 38 men and so might have struggled to hold out had there been a serious attack on it
Fort Hayes: The fort is now part of the museum
Fort Hayes lies immediately to the SW of the centre of Georgetown
Looking immediately out of Fort Hayes is the the quayside and another Green Turtle beach
The coastal view from Fort Hayes
Looking back to Georgetown
Looking back on the museum from Fort Hayes: The museum is the nearest building
An old light in Fort Hayes
John demonstrating how one of the 4.7 Inch Guns would have defended Georgetown in the event of an attack
The Exiles Club in Georgetown: This was the original Marines barracks in Georgetown. A replacement barracks was built next to it, but had since been demolished. When the Navy left, the Exiles Club was renamed the Ascension Club
The replacement Marine barracks to the left of the Exiles Club
This Cannon protects the Exiles Club
Historic Anchor
The Pierhead Stores Building: Had this been in the UK, it is likely that this historic building would have been replaced with some modern concrete building with no character
The Moon: There was excellent light to photograph the Moon