We are paying tribute to those who dedicated their lives and sometimes paid the ultimate sacrifice to establish the basics of life on this island.

Administrator of Ascension Island Marc Holland

Cdre Bone also officially opened the newly-built Bicentenary Park in the capital Georgetown as well as a new artwork marking the anniversary.

“My predecessor at the time was Admiral Sir George Cockburn,” said Cdre  Bone. 

“He was charged with taking Napoleon and securing him on St Helena and it is fate perhaps that brings another Naval officer in command of the South Atlantic at this time.”

Mr Holland said: “We are paying tribute to those who dedicated their lives and sometimes paid the ultimate sacrifice to establish the basics of life on this island.”

First discovered by the Portuguese in 1501, the island was not to be inhabited for more than 200 years. 

After Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, the emperor was exiled to the nearby island of St Helena; the British decided to build a garrison on Ascension in order to guard him against any French rescue attempts.

On October 22 1815 HMS Zenobia and HMS Peruvian dropped anchor off the west coast and the ships’ logs record that at 5.30pm on that day the island was claimed in the name of King George III.

The Royal Navy designated the island as a stone frigate, HMS Ascension, with the classification of ‘sloop of war of the smaller class.’

For the next 107 years the Royal Navy sailed from the rocky shores as it fought to suppress the slave trade. The Island was used as a hospital for the sick, and many who lost their lives are buried in small cemeteries along the coastline.

Perhaps best known for as a refuelling base during the 1982 Falklands Conflict, the Island's military legacy lives on today.

RAF base commander Wg Cdr Mark Taylor, in charge of the small contingent of UK Armed Forces on the island, said: "The Island’s position makes it perfect for supporting operations: we are 1,000 miles off the coast of Africa and 1,400 miles from South America.”

At its peak Ascension was home to 3,000 people but now has a population of less than 800. Many are also celebrating recent news that a new air link is planned between Ascension and St Helena.

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