16th April 2024 Africa and Adjacent Islands – Capt. James Podger

On Tuesday April 16th Banbury Stamp Society welcomed Captain James Podger who presented material on the theme ‘Africa and Adjacent Islands’.

In the first half, James showed material primarily from Ascension Island. Located halfway between Africa and South America, just south of the equator, it was discovered by the Portuguese in the 1500’s and was visited regularly for water and meat (from turtles) until the British garrisoned the island in 1815, to prevent the French from using it as a base to rescue Napoleon from St. Helena, 800 miles to the southwest.  The material included covers from the early garrison right through to the current British and American military presence.   James was already a philatelist when he ended up stationed at Ascension on the supply tanker operated by Maersk.  He provided a lively account of life on a remote military base, including some vivid descriptions of the scenery and wildlife such as witnessing sea turtle laying eggs and the subsequent hatchlings scurrying to sea.  As a philatelist, he got to know the local post mistress and made sure he got a range of local covers from new issues.  He was also invited to catalogue the archives which included artists and printers proofs, copies of which he was able to display.

The second half covered more African Islands including the Seychelles, St. Helena and Mauritius as well as the mainland countries of The Gambia, Gold Coast and Sierra Leone, accompanied by more anecdotes including a visit to St. Helena to see Napoleon’s final prison.

The next display meeting will be on May 7th when the subject will be ‘The Katanga Story 1960-1964’. Meet at 7:30pm at Hanwell Fields Community Centre. The Banbury Stamp Society is on-line at ‘www.banburystampsociety.co.uk’, or contact John Davies on 01295 255831.