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This day in History: Marion Island Annexation

On 29 December 1947 the H.M.S.A.S. Transvaal makes a landing at Marion Island.

John Fairbairn as a Commodore later in life.

Lieutenant-Commander John Fairbairn (o/c H.M.S.A.S. Transvaal) and Petty Officer Steward Henry Schott go ashore on Boulder Beach, Marion Island from the ship’s motor boat at 11h32 on 29 December 1947.

After building a small rock cairn with a metal Union of South Africa flag planted in it on Gunner’s Point, Lt-Cmdr Fairbairn reads out the Deed of Sovereignty occupying the island for South Africa.  He then signs the document and deposits it in the cairn in a 40-mm Bofors cartridge case.  By 12h21 they had left the island for the ship.




HMSAS Transvaal in Table Bay.


 Marsh, J.H. 1948.  No Pathway Here.  Cape Town: Howard B. Timmins.  200 pp.

Feature photograph:

the H.M.S.A.S. Transvaal off Marion Island in November 1954; all photographs courtesy of the South African Naval Museum.


text by John Cooper (2016), Principal Investigator of Antarctic Legacy of South Africa at the time.

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