The British sappers finished their work rebuilding the Tristan da Cunha harbor last Wednesday, March 26, and finally left the islands on Friday.
The web page of the Tristan da Cunha Website devoted to the month-long harbor rebuilding project, called Operation Zest, includes 45 small pictures of the sappers, the British military engineers, doing their work. In addition to a photo chronicle of people rebuilding breakwaters, it mentions that the engineers gave up their day of relaxation on Easter Sunday, March 23, to help out with cleaning up the ruins of the fish factory fire.
The Tristan da Cunha website updates the story of the fire that destroyed the fish factory on February 13. Numerous photos show a large new generator being transferred from the ship onto a barge on March 7, moved into the harbor, loaded onto a tractor-pulled wagon, and transported to the site where it was permanently installed. Full power was restored to the community on Friday, March 14, a month after the fire had destroyed the previous generator.
The most interesting feature added to the website over the past month, however, is a story about the Islanders’ celebration of the Queen’s Birthday on March 24. They set the date, Easter Monday, so the task force of sappers who were completing their work on the harbor could participate before they left.
The description of the celebration is wonderful. “When Chief Islander Connie Glass rang the dong at 0600 to indicate Queens Day some thought him rather optimistic. But the proceedings commenced in dry if overcast conditions with the ceremony outside Prince Philip Hall to bestow the Freedom of Tristan da Cunha upon the Task Force, following which the visitors demonstrated their military prowess by marching around the Settlement and delivering a Salute to the Administrator and the Chief Islander during a march past the Administration Building.”
After the parade and a brief downpour, “the Atlantic Fresh ladies prepared lunch, [before] the children’s’ sports and games got under way.” The tug of war competition, which is pictured, followed, with the islanders decisively defeating the visitors. During an afternoon soccer match between the islanders and the engineers, however, the latter won.
The Administrator’s Reception late in the afternoon included a music performance by one of the sappers, a raffle, and awarding of prizes for the island produce on display. The website lists the award winners in categories such as best cabbage, best tomatoes, heaviest potato, best coffee cake, and so forth. Winners of the various contests during the day, such as the adult sack race, also received their prizes, and of course photos of everything are shown on the website.
To close the formal activities, the Administrator presented a certificate of Freedom of Tristan to the Task Force, copies of which will go to everyone who was involved. With the speeches over, “the Administrator proposed the Loyal Toast, which was followed by the National Anthem.” People then danced to music provided by one of the sappers far into the night.