Buried Thousands of Miles from Home

The Royal Marines of Garrison Bay’s greatest enemy? The sea.

Although the Royal Marines of Garrison Bay never fought against the Americans on the island, their ranks were thinned due to other circumstances.

Along the mile trail to Young Hill lies a solemn clearing with five gravestones. The white picket fence enclosing the area marks the cemetery for the English camp. Buried in the confined area are six men, one civilian and five Royal Marines, who died while stationed at the island between the years of 1860-1872. A sixth Marine, whose body was never found, is also commemorated here. The grounds have been well maintained, and the gravestones are each unique and beautifully decorated.

The British cemetery provides a stark reminder of how merciless the sea can be. Four of the deaths were due to drowning. Two of them, Privates Thomas Kiddy and Joseph Ellis, both veterans of the Opium War, died on April 1, 1863. Another, Private William Davis, drowned five years later in 1868. James Wensley, not of the original landing group, drowned on April 7, 1869, and his body was never recovered. Corporal G.E. Stewart died unexpectedly at the camp in 1865, and Private Wood is memorialized without a cause of death.

The lone civilian, William Taylor, was shot by his brother accidentally in 1868. The six deaths, in addition to transfers to other units and end of service discharges, took a toll on the strength of the garrison. By December of 1866, the unit was down to 46 Royal Marines in total, a drastic reduction from the nearly one hundred that initially landed in 1860.

By the time the National Park Service took over the site in 1966, the cemetery was abandonded and the stones decayed. Some of the markers you see are actually recreations of the originals, based on historic photographs.