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Do they mean us?

Some poorly researched pieces to amuse

Hell, that’s why they make erasers.{c}

Many of the people who write about St Helena have never been here, and what they write can be fascinating… and wrong

Do they mean us?

We’ve featured below articles we’ve come across that describe St Helena inaccurately in some way. If you spot an article worthy of inclusion on this page, please contact us - if we can verify it we’ll include it.

In each case we’ve provided a link to the original article, though we can’t guarantee that these will still work or produce the original content - maybe the authors will take down or amend their errors.

The journalists and editors of the publications featured here might have benefitted from reading our page Quick Facts.

There is no mistake; there has been no mistake; and there shall be no mistake.{d}

SEE ALSO: There are some better articles on our page Read articles about St Helena. You might also be interested to read our page Artificial Intelligence.

The Features

Below: Express Does It Again…yet again!Napoleon Film, 2023Express Does It AgainISLE SAY!Magnetic field ‘Disrupts’ our airport?Santa ElenaWe can’t find the penguinsPitcairn Island has been moved!Tristan da Cunha has been moved!National Library of AustraliaDaily MailMis-coverage of our new Air ServiceDaily MailShark Attack!‘Rusty Lifeline’Interesting pictureAirport ‘scrapped’!Serious misinformation!‘Facts’ from the CIA ‘World Factbook’Not here…Daily Express: ‘Top 10 facts about St Helena’Daily Telegraph: Napoleon’s final resting place: in picturesDaily Express: ‘Top 10 facts about St Helena’Not where it says

The Express Does It Again…yet again!

As is demonstrated elsewhere below, The Express is not good on factual accuracy when it comes to foreign parts.

On 26th March 2024 they added to their repertoire with an article entitled Beautiful British island hardly has any visitors despite being named ‘best’ place to visit. Now there isn’t really anything major that is wrong with the text, other than the minor quibble that where it says Visitors can often see Johnathan on the grounds of Plantation House, the home of the Governor of St Helena where there are local historic tours as Napoleon is known to have stayed there (Napoleon was held on St Helena as a prisoner and an exile - Governor Lowe would never have breached protocol by inviting him to Plantation House). The main point of complaint is one of the photographs. The caption is St Helena has one of the lowest light pollutions in the world which makes it one of the best places to stargaze, which is true, but the photograph is as follows:

Reading the article we thought it was, of course, possible that St Helena has a lighthouse that nobody except The Express has heard of or visited and that doesn’t appear on any maps, ancient or modern, but we doubted it. A quick check using Google Lens™ revealed that this is actually a picture of the Hunting Island Lighthouse near Beaufort, South Carolina, USA. Well, only about 10,000Km out…

Napoleon Film, 2023

Ridley Scott’s 2023 film Napoleon depicts the rise and fall of the former Emperor of France. Now we all thought Napoleon ended his days here, on St Helena, but apparently not. The film seems to have a different story.


2h 23m into the film, having lost the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon is informed that he will not be allowed to remain in England and will be exiled. But if you listen to the clip (right) you will realise that he is being sent to a place that, as far as we know, doesn’t exist. Where is this St Helena (pronounced like the girl’s name)? Well apparently it’s a small island - more of a rock really - 1,000 miles from the coast of Africa. None of these describes the real St Helena, and Africa has a lot of coastline to be 1,000 miles from, so it could be anywhere. Maybe it’s the new name for Ste Helena la Nouvelle, our (mythical) sister island?

The theory that the St Helena in the film is a purely fictional place is borne out by the shots of the island, both when approaching by sea - what is shown is not how the real St Helena is seen when approaching by sea either from the North or the South - and also the on-island shots that follow. There’s a garden scene (at 2h 25m) which is presumably supposed to be the garden of Longwood House, where land can be clearly seen across the bay. Perhaps this is the Africa that’s 1,000 miles away? The garden seems curiously full of jungle-like plants, and is where Napoleon - seemingly healthy and standing alone - falls to his death - not in bed, after a long illness and surrounded by just about everybody of note on the island, as was really the case.

Incidentally, when sentence is pronounced, Napoleon is told that he will be guarded by Governor Lowe, which is odd because at the time of Napoleon’s arrival here the island was under the command of Governor Wilks, Lowe not arriving until 6 months later.

Not at all our island, but then the movie was made in Hollywood…

‘Napoleon on St Helena’ created by AI
‘Napoleon on St Helena’ created by AI

For other notes on the historical accuracy of the film overall see the Wikipedia.

This information also appears on our Napoleon page.

NB: the St Helena parts of the TV Miniseries Napoleon (2002) were filmed on St Helena, despite the logistic difficulties involved (the only way on or off the island in 2002 was the RMS St Helena (1990-2018)). Also of interest might be the image ‘Napoleon on St Helena’ created by AI (right).

The Express Does It Again

Express, Nov 2023
Saint Helena is smaller than Disneyland and sits in the South Atlantic Ocean

As we’ve mentioned elsewhere below, The Express is not good on factual accuracy when it comes to foreign parts.

In an article entitled Saint Helena has been voted the best place to visit next year, with the tiny island known for its rich history (By Christopher Sharp, Published in The Daily Express (UK){f}, 27th November 2023) it manages to say that our island is in Africa and is the size of Disneyland, which at just under 0.5Km² is about 1/240 the size of St Helena (we are slightly larger than Disney World, which we assume is what they meant).

To be fair, apart from the above, the article is not bad. It gets our population about right, mentions the Airport without saying how dangerous it is (which it isn’t), promotes diving, walking and Jacob’s Ladder. It does say that, while out walking, you might find a distinctive British red postbox with a notebook in which to leave a comment but that’s a perhaps understandable error - we do have ‘Post Box Walks’ but the boxes in question are just that - a simple wooden cupboard with a stamp, notebook and pencil inside, not a traditional UK Royal Mail pillar box. The photograph it uses of Jamestown is at least ten years out-of-date and it refers to The Saint Helena website but doesn’t give a link - let’s assume it’s this one! It mentions the ‘Cloud Forest’, though it does later refer to it as the rainforest. And, of course, it mentions Napoleon and all the places related to him.

Not as bad as it might have been. Better than one might expect from The Express. Six-out-of-Ten for effort.


By Juliana Cruz Lima, Published in The Sun (UK){g}, 24th Aug 2023{1}

We decided to publish this one in full because it is actually reasonably well structured, leading the reader inexorably to its totally erroneous conclusion… Our comments are interspersed and marked thus.

The Sun 20230824 img 04
The Atlantic island was discovered uninhabited by the Portuguese in 1502

The Sun 20230824 img 05
Saint Helena is also home to the oldest giant tortoise in the world

The Sun 20230824 img 06
Like the UK, Saint Helena apparently suffers from late night weekend chaos

The Sun 20230824 img 01
Saint Helena is located 1,200 miles from Africa and 1,800 miles from South America

The Sun 20230824 img 02
The ‘paradise’ island is the UK’s second-oldest overseas territory after Bermuda

The Sun 20230824 img 03
Saint Helena is home to an incredibly diverse marine wildlife

We live on an isolated tropical paradise island with stunning scenery and incredible wildlife - and it’s BRITISH

A BRITISH tropical island has been described as paradise thanks to its stunning scenery and incredible wildlife.

Saint Helena is one of the remotest islands on the planet, sitting in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean 1,200 miles from Africa and 1,800 miles from South America.

St Helena is the UK’s second-oldest overseas territory after Bermuda.

It was named after Helena, mother of Constantine I and was completely uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese enroute to the Indian subcontinent in 1502.

For around four centuries, the island was an important stopover for ships from Europe to Asia and back, while sailing around the African continent, until the opening of the Suez Canal.

The island is also known as Napoleon Bonaparte’s grave as it was where the French military commander was exiled from 1815 until his death in 1821. French military commander? He was the Emperor of France, conquering much of Europe and beyond, and to understate his status in this way looks rather petty.

Nicknamed the Galapagos of the Atlantic We have never heard it called that, but…, St Helena has a unique biological diversity, with around 500 species of flora and fauna discovered on the island.

St Helena has no native land mammals, but is a haven for bird life, including the endangered St Helena plover or wirebird. Haven? Apart from The Wirebird none of the others are protected or even conserved.

From boat trips to see hundreds of dolphins to swimming with whale sharks, visitors and residents in St Helena are in constant contact with the island’s marine wildlife. The ocean waters surrounding the island also host incredibly diverse coral ecosystems.

Saint Helena is also home to the oldest giant tortoise in the world. Jonathan - who was 186 years old in 2017 - had been living on the island since the 19th century and mating with another tortoise called Frederica since 1991. But it has emerged that the giant animal could be gay. Experts in the British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic recently discovered the old-timer’s girlfriend of the last 26 years is probably a male, The Times reported.

Despite the dreamy tropical weather and being thousands of miles away from the UK, the volcanic island is more similar to Britain than one might think.

It comes as Saint Helena also apparently suffers from late night weekend chaos, especially at capital Jamestown, where most of the 5,314 residents live. Most of the island’s residents haven’t lived in Jamestown for around 50 years, and at the last count (2021 Census) our population was just under 4,500, so we have no idea where the other 800ish came from when The Sun counted them. The paradise island reportedly turns into hell on weekend nights with drunkenness, feral kids, and boy racers causing mayhem. Please tell us more about this late night weekend chaos because we seem to have missed it… and also the hell and these feral kids

The St Helena Independent - one of the island’s two newspapers - published an editorial going into more detail about the anti-social behaviour. Having spent the night in Jamestown on one or two occasions I am very aware weekend nights are perfect hell every weekend, the paper’s editor Vince Thompson wrote. He recalled one Sunday morning when, in the early hours, a succession of cars would drive up to the ramps, slow down, pass over the ramps and then accelerate using the highest possible revs immediately afterwards. Throwing litter and breaking bottles were said to be other issues. Vince went on to describe some of Jamestown’s unruly youths as feral. He added: I’ve just looked up the definition of ‘feral’, it states ‘in a wild state after escape from domestication’. That sounds about right.

Oh, that! Some kids got a bit drunk, smashed some bottles over a couple of weekends, broke a bench and a window in the church. If that’s hell then we wonder how The Sun would describe Saturday night in any British town. We are prepared to believe Vince Thompson did publish these things in The Independent but that doesn’t make them accurate. The editor of this website actually lives in Jamestown and in his opinion Vince’s description could politely be described as ‘exaggerated’. Whether this exaggeration is because controversy sells newspapers we can’t say.

Most of the trouble is concentrated on the island’s capital Jamestown:

A bombshell letter from 2010 also revealed how David Cameron was told to ignore grave warnings that a £285 million airport on St Helena would be a disaster. The ex-PM was told undesirable wind shear would make it a very expensive and embarrassing white elephant. Ex-BA pilot Brian Heywood urged David Cameron not to blow taxpayers cash on the project in the remote island. But the PM passed the warnings from his constituent onto the Department for International Development - and was reassured everything would be fine. Ex-Aid Secretary Andrew Mitchell said all concerns raised by the pilot were being addressed.

Fortunately our airport is definitely not a disaster, or anything like it. Admittedly it is not currently delivering as many tourists as was predicted, but then whenever did anything live up to the promises made by its proponents? Our airport is functioning, serving the needs of Saints and visitors and has saved many lives through the ability to medevac the critically ill to medical care in South africa. It’s rather tedious to see The Sun rehashing yet again the rather boring world’ most useless airport story.

Magnetic field ‘Disrupts’ our airport?

An article published on the (UK) Daily Express website{h} claims our airport has been ‘disrupted’ by a change in the Earth’s magnetic field. Now the basis of this is correct, as noted in our Events Database as below:

but what puzzled us about the Express article was the amount of fuss they made about it! The effect of the change was trivial. Runway 20 became Runway 19 and Runway 02 (the same physical runway, but approached from the opposite direction) became Runway 01. The biggest cost was probably repainting the numbers on the physical runway and altering a few signs - no flights were impacted whatsoever. But the Express chose to headline the item

Magnetic field disrupts £300m island airport

(note the dig at the amount the ‘UK taxpayer’ had spent on providing the facility for us ‘foreigners’). The body of the article continued in similar fashion. Apparently the change had:

sen[t] the airport back to the drawing board

and had cost

thousands of pounds

with the strong implication that somebody (probably us ‘foreigners’) was somehow to blame. Later in the article they did publish a quote from the airport management saying that

The cost of the alterations was around £8,000. They were implemented over a period when no flights were planned.

which rather demonstrated that the whole article was a ridiculous attempt to attract attention by exaggerating a trivial issue - we think the phrase ‘click bait’ applies.

Santa Elena

An article published on OI Canadian{i} came to our attention after being extensively rubbished on social media. It is entitled - and here we reproduce the title exactly as it appears on the website:

Ten of the more remote islands to get away from the world (and forget about coronavirus

(Note the unmatched parentheses.) When a site posts with a typo on the headline it suggests that accuracy is not to be expected, and the mention of St Helena does not disappoint:

Saint Helena

With 6.600 inhabitants, and its capital, London is the city that is inhabited, that is closest to the island of Tristan da Cunha, in spite of being in the 2.161 kilometre to the north.

London? There is then a very old image of Jamestown - at least pre-2016 because St. James’ Church does not have a spire - which is captioned:

Boston, the capital of Santa Elena

Finally we get to the text describing the island:

It was a little more than 200 years ago, Napoleon if you were stuck on the island, and Tristan da Cunha, it could have been a very strategic point, from the French to rescue their emperor. For this reason, the United Kingdom has decided to dwell in it for seven families in order to avoid that you could use it as a base of operations.

We think they are recommending that people come here, but we don’t see how anybody could actually find our island given the data supplied. Perhaps the piece was originally written in another language (Klingon, maybe?) and translated by a non-English speaker? Or maybe there is actually a place called ‘Santa Elena’ with a twin-city as its capital London-Boston looking much like pre-2016 Jamestown, and with some unclear connection to Napoleon… Maybe it’s our sister island.

We can’t find the penguins

The Daily Mail, a right-wing newspaper in the UK which has featured on this page before, has done it again:

Colony of penguins

Christmas card’s 10,000-mile trip{j}

A Christmas card has been delivered more than three months late - after Royal Mail mistakenly sent it halfway round the world to the South Atlantic.

Roger and Margaret Curtis live in the village of St Helens, near Ryde on the Isle of Wight. Their friends in Wroxhall, just ten miles away, posted them the card in December.

But it was incorrectly dispatched to St Helena - a remote, storm-buffeted volcanic outcrop with a large colony of penguins. It finally arrived at their home last week, having travelled around 10,000 miles.

A message stamped on the envelope declared ‘missent to St Helena’.

St Helens, with a population of 1,200, claims to be the second largest village in the UK. Meanwhile the island of St Helena has a population of 4,500, and was uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese in 1502. French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled there In 1815 and died there just over five years later.

There are not, and never have been, any penguins on or around St Helena - we’re far too close to the equator in warm tropical seas. And we have remarkably good weather, with storms quite a rarity. We think the Mail is confusing us with the Falkland Islands, on the Anywhere down in the South Atlantic is the same as everywhere else principle, doubtless approved of by its readers in Tunbridge Wells for whom Cornwall is a foreign country.

The rest of its facts about St Helena are, unusually, pretty-much correct although, to be a bit picky, 5,000 miles is actually less than a quarter of the way around the world, not half.

Pitcairn Island has been moved!

Further to ‘Tristan da Cunha has been moved!(below), now somebody has moved Pitcairn Island, and also included some inaccurate information about St Helena.

The offending article is ‘Commentary OTs far and wide compared’ by Peter Moll{k}, in which we read (our emphasis):

In the South Atlantic, the Pitcairn Islands (50) has…

The entry for St Helena states that our population is 4,082. The total resident population on 7th February 2021 was 4,439, 4,118 of which were St Helenian and the remainder visitors, temporary workers, etc.{l} It seems Mr Moll has mislaid around 50 people (more if you count non-residents). Interestingly that’s about the same as the number of Pitcairners he has relocated to the South Atlantic. Maybe he simply moved our people to the space in the South Pacific vacated by his re-location of Pitcairn Island? If so, we hope he provided them with a boat…

Tristan da Cunha has been moved!

Presumably because the people living there are so fed up with being isolated, Tristan da Cunha has apparently been relocated further up the South Atlantic, next to St Helena (which, apparently, has also been moved further north). We know this from the maps published on 12th December 2017 by The Daily Mail and The Sun.

Daily Mail first. In an article ‘Britain must designate its marine territories as ‘bluebelt’ to protect its wildlife and stop plastic pollution from destroying the world’s oceans, claim campaigners’ (catchy title, guys!) we find this picture{m}:

(The true position of St Helena is marked with a red ‘+’.) We just hope that somebody has told all the Cruise Ship Captains because if Tristan is now located where it is shown on the map (3) there is a finite danger of a ship running aground there en-route to or from Cape Town - and they also need to know the new position of St Helena.

Now The Sun. In an article on the same subject we find this picture{n}:

On the whole we welcome the change. Firstly, it should make life a lot easier for the Tristan residents. Instead of a long sea voyage they can now fly to St Helena and hop on one of St Helena’s offshore fishing boats to get home. Secondly it should improve St Helena’s supply of potatoes too!

However, please forgive us for being cautious but we won’t be updating our page Our Sister Islands until we get confirmation from the Government of St Helena that the relocation has actually been completed.

National Library of Australia

We found this picture{o}:


Being readers of Saint Helena Island Info you will, of course, have immediately recognised the Sandy Bay Baptist Chapel, Napoleon’s House having been just a tad larger. In view of this we’ve compiled our own little gallery of him elsewhere on St Helena:

The Daily Mail

The Mail on Sunday{2}

This is a completely ridiculous article. To take a position on whether tourism has ‘taken off’ less than a month after the flights started operating defies any logic. But then, logic is not something the Daily Mail trades in. It sells newspapers to small-minded people who like to see ‘foreigners’ being denigrated, irrespective of whether the information presented has any basis in fact.

Mis-coverage of our new Air Service

Naturally the start of our scheduled commercial air service attracted a lot of media attention, in particular giving the anti-Government sections of the UK press another opportunity to have a go about the cost of our ‘world’ most useless airport’. In addition to these inaccuracies here are some others we spotted:

The first flight connects St Helena to the rest of the world

The Austrian newspaper ‘Salzburger Nachtrichten’ [Salzburg Evening News?]{p} on 14th October 2017 wrote about the start of our scheduled commercial air service. It informed its readers that:

In the future, the scheduled flight of the South African airline Comair will fly to the UK’s overseas territory once a week

[Translation by Google Translate™]. Well if the residents of Salzburg will be trying to book flights to St Helena through Comair, we confidently expect to get no Salzburgians [Salzburgers?] here in the near future…

First commercial plane touches down on remote British territory

The [UK] Independent{q} on 15th October 2017 wrote about the start of our scheduled commercial air service. In its coverage it included the line:

With the risk of Windshear limiting the size of planes and numbers of passengers on Saturday’s flight had room for 100 but only 68 on board due to weight restrictions, meaning the hoped-for tourist boom is unlikely to materialise.

Let’s consider this. Until 2018 the RMS St Helena (1990-2018) brought around 40 tourists to St Helena every three weeks - just under 700 per annum. Even if only 50% of the flight’s passenger capacity is tourists - a conservative assumption - the scheduled commercial air service will bring here 34 tourists each week, every week. That’s 1,768 per annum; just over 2½ times as many as the RMS St Helena (1990-2018). Exactly what a tourist boom is we aren’t sure but certainly more than doubling the annual number will have beneficial effects.

(See also Windshear)

The Daily Mail

The Mail on Sunday{r} on 30th April 2017 wrote another of its ‘anti-foreigners’ rants featuring our airport. It was headlined:

Jet finally lands at £300m airport British taxpayers built…

In the interests of balance (not, admittedly, a feature of the Daily Mail) we’d like to point out that 1: their cost figure is too high - the actual budget was £285m, and 2: that this was actually the (roughly) 50th flight to land at St Helena Airport.

Then the body of the article quotes an unidentified and slightly under-estimating DFID spokesman saying 32 flights have successfully landed so far, thus making a nonsense of their own headline.

The rest of the article is also full of inaccuracies. For example, the island is not:

waiting to receive vital supplies

as these were delivered by the Sea Freight ship. And the final notable error is the Daily Mail missing a point that, if they’d bothered to do their research properly they’d have loved to make. They say:

the island’s government has had to pay for this week’s charter flight

Actually it was DFID, or in Daily Mail terms ‘the British taxpayer’ who paid for the flight!

Shark Attack!

On 22nd April 2017 a woman was attacked by a shark while swimming off Ascension Island. She was treated at Georgetown Hospital and then flown to the UK for further treatment. She is expected to make a full recovery.

This was reported in many UK newspapers and we are told that, in many of them, they referred to the attack as having happened:

off St Helena

completely omitting to mention that it was actually 1,300Km off St Helena, i.e. Ascension. Sadly by the time we heard of this all their websites had been corrected, so you must regard this story as hearsay (but we’re sure it’s true).

The ‘Rusty Lifeline’

The Guardian{s} decided to write up the discussion about compensation for tourism providers due to the delay in opening the airport. The report was a reasonable discussion of the subject but contained a few notable inaccuracies:

The RMS St Helena (1990-2018) had just been repainted, and we were sure Lawson Henry and the other eleven Legislative Council members would be impressed by their description. Planes could land at the airport, just not full-size commercial ones.

Interesting picture

Keen to get the boot into the Tory Government’s aid budget, the UK Telegraph{t} on 21st June 2016 ran a piece:

UK government spends £285million on airport that’s ‘unsafe’ for most planes.

This would normally be ordinary UK knock-about politics and therefore uninteresting, except that the article features this picture and caption:

It’s a nice picture, but it wasn’t taken on St Helena. We are informed that it is actually on Lundy Island, North Devon - about 8,000Km north of St Helena.

The article also describes us as being:

…in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean

which we are not (we’re about ⅔ of the way across), but let’s not be picky. At least they got the ocean right.

Airport ‘scrapped’!

At the beginning of June 2016 The Guardian{u} led with the headline:

St Helena airport costing £285m of UK money is scrapped over safety concerns

On 9th June 2016 The Guardian amended the headline to read:

St Helena airport costing £285m of UK money is delayed over safety concerns

…and amended the text to clarify that it is still planned to open the airport - as soon as the Windshear issue is sorted. Unfortunately, the BBC also picked up on the Guardian’s story, reporting the airport plan as having been ‘abandoned’ before also later amending their report to read ‘delayed’. Many others have covered the story, with varying degrees of inaccuracy.

A lie can be halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on.{v}

Serious misinformation!

Maybe next time the US CDC{w} updates its website it might want to start by reading our website… The version extant in January 2016 had some serious errors:

Get travel vaccines and medicines because there is a risk of these diseases in the country you are visiting:

Hepatitis A: CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Saint Helena, regardless of where you are eating or staying.

Typhoid: You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in Saint Helena. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travellers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.

Rabies: Rabies is present in bats in Saint Helena.

All of the above statements are completely untrue and there is no risk on St Helena, to travellers or anybody else. There are actually no bats on St Helena and there has never been a recorded case of rabies.

‘Facts’ from the CIA ‘World Factbook’

It’s worrying that the CIA is publishing{x} such obvious errors:

Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population

Not a very good estimate - around half of all Saints are working abroad, mostly in the Falkland Islands, on Ascension Island or in the UK. Later they contradict themselves: under ‘Economy - overview:’ we read Because there are few jobs, 25% of the work force has left to seek employment on Ascension Island, on the Falkland Islands, and in the UK.

National holiday:
Birthday of Queen ELIZABETH II, third Monday in April (1926)

Actually we have many national holidays, of which St Helena’s Day is the most important (The birthday of Queen Elizabeth II was not significantly celebrated by Saints).

National symbol(s):
Saint Helena plover (bird)

Again, only lists one of our National Symbols.

Economy - overview:
…Because there are few jobs, 25% of the work force has left to seek employment on Ascension Island, on the Falkland Islands, and in the UK.

Actually the island has close to 100% employment. People leave for better paid jobs, or for opportunities not available on St Helena.

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 6%; industry: 48%; services: 46%

There must be a large number of very secret factories, of which nobody has ever heard…

Electricity - from fossil fuels:
100% of total installed capacity

The CIA should check our page Renewable Energy!

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 1, Shortwave 0

Somewhat out of date - not true since December 2012! We actually have four radio stations, all on FM (and none on AM).

See the most recent ‘Information’ on us on the CIA Website.

Not here…

There’s a photograph that sometimes appears in articles about St Helena:

Wherever it is, it isn’t here

Overhang, upper Sandy Bay

An example of its use is at centreforaviation.com/‌analysis/‌saints-honoured-with-their-own-airport-at-last-62239. We have no idea why it appears so often, because wherever this photo was taken, it wasn’t here. We think its popularity is simply because it’s a scenic, action-orientated photo, and writers copy from each other without checking that the photo they are copying is valid. Or it may be intended to be the similar but actually quite different view (right) in upper Sandy Bay.

Daily Express: ‘Top 10 facts about St Helena’

The Daily Express has updated its ‘Top 10 facts about St Helena{y}’ - and this time they got it right…almost

They list their ‘facts’ as:

1: Saint Helena is in the South Atlantic, 4,000Km east of Brazil, 1,900Km west of Africa. It covers an area of just 122Km².

They got the island’s name wrong, but it’s a common mistake

2: The Portuguese discovered Saint Helena in 1502 but from 1676 it was governed by The East India Company.

1659, actually. 1676 was Halley, as 4: below.

3: Saint Helena is now Britain’s second oldest remaining Overseas Territory, after Bermuda.
4: The comet discoverer Edmond Halley set up an observatory on Saint Helena in 1676.
5: Napoleon had high praise for the coffee on Saint Helena.
6: Charles Darwin had a five-day stopover on Saint Helena when sailing on The Beagle in 1836…
7: …and he described the island as a curious little world within itself.
8: The first ever aircraft landing on Saint Helena was made exactly one month ago at the island’s newly built airport on September 15, 2015.
9: The island is named after St Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine the Great and alleged discovered of the True Cross.
10: St Helena is the only place on earth where the mating of Whale Sharks has been seen by humans.

Strangely we now have the island’s correct name!

Then they spoil it all by including the following photograph…

Daily Express

… which is actually of Ascension Island.

Daily Telegraph: Napoleon’s final resting place: in pictures

In the Culture, Picture Galleries section{z}:

The page indexes fifteen interesting pictures of St Helena, ranging from Napoleon’s Tomb to the Airport. It would be great except for the title. Yes, Napoleon did die here, on 5th May 1821, and was buried in Sane Valley. But nineteen years later his body was dug up and shipped back to France. His final resting place is actually at L’Hotêl Les Invalides in Paris, France.

Daily Express: ‘Top 10 facts about St Helena’

From the Daily Express{aa}:

Uncaptioned picture
We don’t understand this picture at all. We think it is probably Mt. St Helens, in North America. The last time our volcano erupted was about 14 million years ago and there were no cameras to record that event (or people either).

The island of St Helena in the South Atlantic was discovered by the Portuguese navigator João de Nova on May 21, 1502.

Actually he was João da Nova. And these facts are also in dispute but everyone accepts them so we’ll let that pass.

1: He named it after St Helena of Constantinople, the consort of Roman emperor Constantius Chlorus and mother of Constantine the Great.

We’re not sure why there are three items about Saint Helena, the person. Is there nothing more interesting about our island?

2: She is a patron saint of archaeologists, converts, difficult marriages, divorced people, empresses and the island of Saint Helena.
3: She is said to have been the daughter of the British King Coel, on whom Old King Cole may have been based.
4: St Helena has only one newspaper, one radio station and one internet service provider.

Actually we have two newspapers and four{3} radio stations. But we do only have one ISP.

5: St Helena has been a British Overseas Territory for longer than anywhere else except Bermuda.
Um…not literally correct. The concept of a ‘British Overseas Territory’ was created in 2002, and all the British overseas possessions acquired the term at the same time, but only Bermuda has been a British overseas possession longer than us.
6: St Helena is said to have discovered the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
7: She is said to have protected her son by placing one crucifixion nail in his helmet and one in his horse’s saddle.
8: The British used St Helena as a prison for both Napoleon and some 5,000 Boer War captives.
9: St Helena is ten miles long, five miles wide and has an international dialling code of 290.
10: Charles Darwin visited St Helena in 1836 and described it as a curious little world within itself.

Not where it says

The article in the Mail & Guardian, South Africa{ab} Ship out to isolated St Helena before the planes land (Mail & Guardian, South Africa, 13th February 2015) has the following image and caption:

The image is great, but the caption is wrong. This is actually a view of Fisher’s Valley, on the other side of the island!

It was ever thus…

Mis-representation of St Helena is not new. When it became known that Napoleon was to be exiled here, illustrators rushed to explain to their readers where this ‘St Helena’ place was, often including illustrations. Clearly none of these publicists actually bothered to visit such an inaccessible place, so some of these representations leave a great deal to be desired…

Read More

Below: Article: Book ReviewJust because a mistake is old…

Article: Book Review

Extract from a book review by Trevor Hearl, published in the ‘Wirebird’, the magazine of Friends of St Helena{4} #11, Spring 1995{1}

St. James’ Church was not built when the East India Company annexed the island more than three centuries ago, but in 1772. The Solomon family no longer dominates the island economy; the last left in 1959. ‘Cockneys’ did not sail for St Helena in considerable numbers after 1666; some thirty arrived in The Charles and far from creating an agricultural community of some significance, were poor crofters and planters. Nor was it following the death of the French Emperor that a number of soldiers and marines elected to remain on St Helena forming the basis of settlement; can he mean Tristan? Readers must resist the notion that Jonathan was in residence at the time of Napoleon’s exile; or that Longwood was donated to the French nation in a gesture of goodwill; or quinine successfully exported; or seven flax mills built by 1894 exporting sisal; or that when the flax industry collapsed as the Post Office switched to man-made fibres, the island’s role as a coaling station ended as the Navy switched to oil fuel. Nick Thorpe may be alarmed to find his home at Woodlands described as a small country inn (confused with the former ‘Oaklands’) and the Bishop no less surprised to read that Tristan is in his Diocese and until recent years his predecessors lived in Cape Town, visiting the Island annually by courtesy of the Royal Navy! Et cetera…

We deliberately haven’t identified the book. On the whole Trevor liked it but he took the above exception to its depiction of our island’s history. Trevor also adds the following to his review:

P.S. Visitors to St Helena are not the only ones confused about Jonathan. The announcer on Radio St Helena Day (14th October 1994) told an enquirer that the giant tortoise was brought here by Captain Cook…

Just because a mistake is old…

…doesn’t mean people won’t keep on making it!

Jamestown, Observer, 2008

John Tyrrell in his blog for 2nd June 2008 points out this one. Many publications have made this mistake. Edward Cannan does it on page 165 of his 1992 book ‘Churches of the South Atlantic Islands, 1502-1991’. John identifies an instance perpetrated by UK Sunday newspaper ‘The Observer’:


{a} Social Media User{5}{b} Tourist Information Office{c} Clarence Darrow{d} Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington{e} Ridley Scott’s 2023 film ‘Napoleon’{f} www.express.co.uk/‌news/‌world/‌1837368/‌best-place-to-visit-2024-saint-helena, 27th November 2023{1}{g} www.thesun.co.uk/‌news/‌23623922/‌isolated-tropical-paradise-island-stunning-scenery-british/‌?fbclid=IwAR2ktWwOpKViuRHHkpqya7ihn7g1AWBPAYY1YJ0g7NpoFPwPBv1XwFePJGM, 24th August 2022{1}{h} www.express.co.uk/‌news/‌world/‌1597259/‌st-helena-south-Atlant, April 2022{1}{i} http://oicanadian.com/ten-of-the-more-remote-islands-to-get-away-from-the-world-and-forget-about-coronavirus/ By Tammy Sewell, 5th July 2020{1}{j} Daily Mail, 9th April 2019{k} www.bvibeacon.com/‌commentary-ots-far-and-wide-compared, 31st October 2018{1}{l} 2021 Census, taken 7th February 2021.{m} www.dailymail.co.uk/‌sciencetech/‌article-5168349/‌British-overseas-territories-protected-bluebelt.html, Retrieved 12th December 2017{1}{n} www.thesun.co.uk/‌news/‌5112239/‌these-brit-territories-will-be-protected-in-blue-belt-plan-inspired-by-blue-planet-to-save-oceans-and-endangered-species, Retrieved 12th December 2017{1}{o} www.nla.gov.au/‌media-releases/‌2016/‌02/‌17/‌nla-make-digital-history-today, Retrieved 20th November 2017{1}{p} www.sn.at/‌panorama/‌international/‌erster-linienflug-verbindet-st-helena-mit-dem-rest-der-welt-19311487, Retrieved 16th October 2017{1}{q} www.independent.co.uk/‌news/‌world/‌africa/‌st-helena-first-commercial-plane-remote-british-territory-south-africa-a8001061.html, Retrieved 15th October 2017{1}{r} www.dailymail.co.uk/‌news/‌article-4459546/‌Jet-finally-lands-300m-airport-British-taxpayers-built.html, Retrieved 1st May 2017{1}{s} www.theguardian.com/‌uk-news/‌2016/‌sep/‌21/‌st-helena-islanders-compensation-285m-airport, Retrieved 23rd September 2016{1}{t} www.telegraph.co.uk/‌travel/‌news/‌st-helena-285million-airport-unsafe-for-most-passenger-planes, Retrieved 22nd June 2016{1}{u} www.theguardian.com/‌global-development/‌2016/‌jun/‌09/‌planes-unable-to-land-at-285m-cliff-top-airport-on-island-of-st-helena, Retrieved 10th June 2016{1}{v} Charles Spurgeon{6}{w} wwwnc.cdc.gov/‌travel/‌destinations/‌traveler/‌none/‌saint-helena, Retrieved 19th January 2016{1}{x} www.cia.gov/‌the-world-factbook/‌countries/‌saint-helena-ascension-and-tristan-da-cunha, Retrieved 19th January 2016{1}{y} www.express.co.uk/‌life-style/‌top10facts/‌612059/‌Top-10-facts-Saint-Helena, Retrieved 15th October 2015{1}{z} www.telegraph.co.uk/‌culture/‌culturepicturegalleries/‌11535568/‌Napoleons-final-resting-place-in-pictures.html, Retrieved 11th June 2015{1}{aa} www.express.co.uk/‌life-style/‌top10facts/‌578692/‌Top-10-facts-about-St-Helena, Retrieved 20th May 2015{1}{ab} mg.co.za, Retrieved 13th February 2015{1}


{1} @@RepDis@@{2} Sorry, we can’t provide a URL because we couldn’t actually find the story on the Daily Mail’s website.{3} It was four when the article was published. At the time of writing it is three.{4} The four ‘Wirebird’ publications should not be confused.{5} Posted on Social Media and used with the poster’s permission but they wish to remain anonymous.{6} Often quoted by, and frequently mis-attributed to James Callaghan or Winston Churchill.