1829 onwards – We were but sailing by – Early impressions of Christmas Island – Interesting to read these first hand accounts of travellers.
1830 – Could this be the first ever painting of Christmas Island? It’s amazing what you accidentally discover in an archive when you are not looking for it.
1855 – Rambles in eastern Asia, including China and Manilla (excerpt) – Read why an adventuring American dentist in 1848 felt the need for pistols, sword-canes, dirks etc when visiting Christmas Island.
1863 – The American Civil War – was Christmas Island a Rebel supply base? – Amazing but true. Christmas Island (Indian Ocean) was investigated. Find out why.
1894 – Historic Clunies-Ross carving revealed – A small treasure on a hillside is revealed.
1896 – Life on Christmas Island before mining – a visitor’s account – Arthur Louis Keyser writes about life on the Island before the commencement of phosphate mining. An interesting account of the natural environment and of the small Clunies-Ross settlement.
1899 – Heaven and Earth on Christmas Island – What was the role of the Chinese society known as the Hungmen (洪門) or the Heaven and Earth Society (天地會) on the Island during the early mining days?
1900 – Clayton’s first report 1900 – Opening a door to the earliest days – Lewis Clayton’s Colonial Report No. 319, dated 1900, opens a door to the earliest days on Christmas Island. He covers all aspects of life at that time, but trouble was brewing on the horizon.
1900-1902 – The kongsi – tiny photos hide unique historical detail – The business premises of Ong Sam Leong.
1900 -1902 – A long winding track – Two wonderful unique photos from the earliest days of Christmas Island are revealed.
1901 – Alexander Macdonald’s adventures on Christmas Island – An interesting and colourful read from the most earliest days of Christmas Island.
1902 – A tragic accident – The sad fate of a young doctor only recently arrived on Christmas Island.
1907 – Sara Maude Robertson – Uncovering the real story – My curiosity over a headstone in the old European Cemetery leads me to uncover the very interesting story of a woman ahead of her time.
1907 – 1910 – Peter Grimes – his tangled webs – One of the most “colourful” characters to ever grace the shores of Christmas Island. Grimes was a handsome, charming and intelligent man; also an unscrupulous con artist!
1908 – Dr James Cyril Dalmahoy Allan – Succourer of Many – Wonderful accounts of the everyday life of Dr Allan during his postings to Christmas Island; the first being in 1908.
1908 – 1942 – William Henry Rusholme – A concrete link to the past. Curiousity and a serendipitous observation leads to this story of a colonial engineer working on Christmas Island.
1917 – William Joseph Ryan (1874-1917) – The man beneath the grave – Gillian Sandle tells the story of her grandfather, William Ryan, after her decades long search to find out more about him. Her search finally culminated in a visit to his grave on Christmas Island.
1917 – Sng Choon Yee – the young translator – Sng Choon Yee was 20 years old when he was sent to Christmas Island as a translator to replace William Ryan who had died suddenly. He gives a most interesting account of daily life on the island from those early days.
1926 – The Pooh Bah of Christmas Island – Victor Purcell’s island interlude – his observations of the people and lifestyle on the island taken from his memoir.
1939 – 1945 – A teacup in a storm – Christmas Island in WW2 – Here is a wonderfully riveting article, by Ian Foster, about a very dark and frightening time in Christmas Island’s history.
1940 – World War 2 – A close call – Read how Christmas Island was nearly bombarded by the infamous German auxilliary cruiser “Atlantis” (a commerce raider) in October 1940. A close call indeed.
1941 – Christmas Island World War 2 letters found in attic – Whilst on Christmas Island in 1941 Captain George Kinloch wrote letters to his sister in Scotland. They were only rediscovered in February 2021 whilst an attic was being cleared out. Captain Kinloch was sent to the Island in command of installing the 6 inch naval gun, preparing defences and training the locals.
1942 – Japanese soldiers celebrating their invasion of Christmas Island – A very rare photo.
1942 – 1943 – V.E. Mathew and the Japanese Occupation – An excerpt from Mr Mathew’s autobiography focusing on the time he was on Christmas Island during the Japanese invasion and occupation.
1946 – Christmas Islander witness statements about a Japanese collaborator – Accounts of threats, torture and rape in witness statements against collaborator James Kang after World War 2.
1946 – 1956 – A glimpse back to the Island’s secret societies – Including with a claim of a South Point triad in 1934/35.
1950 – Benjamin Hobson – Lost in the Old European cemetery – Confirming the burial location of Benjamin Hobson; the man with no headstone or gravesite.
1956 – The parachuting doctor – a heroic tale – A very brave RAF doctor parachutes in bad weather onto Christmas Island to save the life of a woman.
1957 – Edna Thomas – A fortuitous teaching post – A career choice that changed the course of Edna’s life.
1961 – About our Island, by Gwen Pettigrew. – Looking back. Life on Christmas Island 1946-1947 just after the Japanese occupation from the perspective of a European woman.
Christmas Island Ku Li. I created a video slideshow that depicts the early Chinese coolies on Christmas Island. There is so much more to their story and John Hunt tells it magnificently in his book “Suffering through strength“. However, I hope I was able to capture something of the essence of their very hard life in pictorial form. The hauntingly beautiful music, I believe, is a Chinese folk song and aptly titled “River of Sorrow”.
The Japanese Ammunition Cave. I filmed my exploration of a World War 2 Japanese ammunition cave. Come with me to explore it.