Ascension : Conservation Weekly
Submitted by The Islander (Conservation Office) 16.09.2010 (Article Archived on 30.09.2010)
On an Island the size of Ascension, it is impossible to suggest that the influx of 18 Royal Marines might have gone un-noticed.
ROYAL’S RETURN TO THE ISLAND
Capt Ash Bourne RM, Officer Commanding Sp Troop, 4 ASRM
On an Island the size of Ascension, it is impossible to suggest that the influx of 18 Royal Marines might have gone un-noticed. Those who reside and dine within the confines of the Travellers Hill site would definitely have noticed the locust-like effect on the superb eating facilities supplied by the resident Chef and his team. Not only perhaps because more often than not, these men were sporting shirts labelled Royal Marines Commando but also as they seemed to pride themselves in being able to eat their own body weight and still have room for ice cream! Top Scran! Many thanks.
So why come to the Ascension Islands at all? The 4th Assault Squadron are part of an Amphibious Assault Ship – HMS BULWARK which is about to refloat from a dry docking maintenance period and regenerate up to a fully Operational platform on 48hrs notice to deploy anywhere in the World. The Assault Squadron’s main function is to secure a beach and facilitate the landing of a Combat force using a combination of air lift and Landing craft (Sea). Before Landing Craft can operate on a beach, it is necessary to identify the gradient or profile of that beach during a full tidal range and thus calculations can be made to establish which size craft (with varying draft) can operate on the beach at which times during that tidal range. Due to the nature of our business, this beach profiling is predominantly conducted covertly, often at night. I am quite certain that it will not stretch the imagination too far to comprehend that despite the obvious benefit of the Islands unique deep shelf beaches, the weather makes for a much more pleasant training environment than back in the UK!
Beach Recce training successfully completed, the Squadron looked for a project that we could invest in to offer more of a legacy for the Island. The Squadron Sergeant Major, WO2 Kev ‘My Tattoo doesn’t hurt if I sit on the other cheek’ Brooks RM has visited the Island several times with different Royal Marines Units, and while visiting the Museum, had discovered the story of the death of a former Royal Marine, in 1872.
Private James Galloway Served on the Island with the Royal Marines Light Infantry and tragically fell to his death from Rupert’s path on 17th November 1872. He was aged 31.
The spot where he fell was, until this week, marked by a white cross. 4 ASRM had initially intended to dedicate a stone plaque in April this year, but were unable to due to the Ash Clouds which cancelled our flights.
The Stone plaque is now sited next to the white cross on Rupert’s path as a lasting monument to a fallen comrade, illustrating part of the foundation of our Corps ethos; Once a Marine; Always a Marine.
Stone plaque located on Rupert’s Path.
The ASRM also took the opportunity to clean up the Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI) crest which adorns the top of the Barracks and latterly the cattle shed at the top of the mountain, by the water catchment area. We are certain that this represents the highest Royal Marines Barracks in the World. While working on the Crest, (which by the way, is quite hairy on a wobbly ladder in high winds with even more wobbly knees!), we were met by Stedson Stroud of the Island Conservation team and briefed on the presence of a unique and rare fern species, Asplenium ascensionis, which exists nowhere else in the world! Fortunately, we’d not quite got around to clearing this off as the majority of the Marines, having drawn their large knives were busy levelling all vegetation within 5 feet of Rupert’s path from the Red Lion to the monument. Thank you to Stedson and his team for your continued efforts in protecting and restoring our Corps history and heritage on the Island, among your many other projects.
The plaque was unveiled and dedicated in the presence of the Administrator and the Base Commander at 1600h on Thu 26 August 2010.
Marines working on the crest on the Royal Marines Barracks
Our gratitude must also be extended to amongst many, Chelsea Pete and Al from the Air head, Noddy and Patrick for some superb fishing and the team from Travellers who arranged an excellent BBQ and games evening on Wednesday and made us feel so at home (So much so in fact that some felt the need to have a Yellow fin Tuna tattooed where even here, the Sun doesn’t shine!) To Dean, thanks for the steady hand despite the wobbly target!
To conclude the feelings of us all at the end of this trip; it is very hard as a Royal Marine, not to fall in love with this Island. We have had a fantastic trip, achieved more than we could possibly have hoped to and filled every second of every day (and most nights!) The friendly, can-do attitude enjoyed on the Island is fantastic and we are collectively very grateful for the warm welcome that we have received everywhere that we have ventured by all that we have met. We hope that we have forged a special relationship with the Islands heritage for future members of 4ASRM for many years to come, and that they too will fall in love with a minute Island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with so much of our beloved Corp’s history. Thank you from us all and adios, but not goodbye.
4th Assault Squadron Royal Marines, August 2010. Per MARE.
Volunteers welcome. Please contact Olivia Renshaw or Natasha Williams. Ascension Island Conservation Department. Georgetown. Tel: 6359. Email: email@example.com