Tales of St He­lena

The Oldie - - READERS' LETTERS -

SIR: Matthew En­gel’s visit to St He­lena (April is­sue) re­minds me of my time on Na­tional Ser­vice in the Royal Navy when I was posted to the naval base Si­mon­stown in South Africa in the early 1950s. Ev­ery few months a frigate from our South At­lantic squadron would pay a visit. It was no se­cret, though not, of course, writ­ten down any­where, that one aim was to re­duce in­breed­ing among the small St He­lena pop­u­la­tion, a duty the matelots could be re­lied on to carry out with vigour and en­thu­si­asm. When one de­parted on this ven­ture, she re­ceived a sig­nal from the Flag­ship Cap­tain: ‘Give St He­lena a real treat.’

Rodney Ben­nett, Rich­mond, Surrey.

SIR: Matthew En­gel’s piece awak­ened mem­o­ries. In 1962 I was work­ing on the purser’s staff of RMS Pre­to­ria Cas­tle, and on this ‘oc­ca­sional’ visit to St He­lena we were car­ry­ing the Gov­er­nor Elect of St He­lena, Tris­tan da Cunha and As­cen­sion, Sir John and Lady Field.

An­chor­ing off Jamestown in a steep At­lantic swell, the Gov­er­nor’s launch (in re­al­ity a small out­board mo­tor boat with peel­ing paint­work and rather tired bunt­ing) ar­rived along­side the ship’s lad­der. Im­mac­u­lately at­tired and wear­ing a so­lar topee, Sir John ne­go­ti­ated the lad­der, fol­lowed by Lady Field, dressed for a gar­den party in hat, gloves, hand­bag and high heels. She was car­ry­ing a Si­amese cat in a bas­ket. Times may have changed, but in those days you went ashore by swing­ing, Tarzan-like, on a rope across slip­pery rocks. The Gov­er­nor made it, but sadly his wife missed and sank, el­e­gantly, into the South At­lantic, hold­ing on to the cat bas­ket. She and the cat were hastily fished out by sturdy is­lan­ders and no dam­age was done.

Shirley Lane, Cas­tle Cary, Som­er­set.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.