This Day in History: 1850-02-10

At long last, troopship Apollo comes to anchor in Hong Kong harbour, 238 days after she left Cork, Ireland, carrying the 59th Foot.  The China Station Naval correspondent of The Times sends the following report to his newspaper:

 ‘With reference to the Apollo, I ought to state that she was greatly overcrowded by the troops and supernumeraries during her most wearisome voyage of eight months. From personal inspection, I can affirm that the place allotted for the women and children accompanying the regiment was totally unfit for the purpose, and that I have never seen a convict-ship in which the convicts were not more comfortably lodged. The means of ventilation (scanty enough in harbour, when the ports can be opened) are so insignificant at sea as to be undeserving of the name, and when, in addition to having had to bear the stifling atmosphere of their small portion of the lower deck and the thermometer at 95°, many of them underwent the agonies of childbirth in a small cabin bulkheaded off from it, it will be obvious that no language can exaggerate the miseries which these unhappy women suffered during their eight months imprisonment.                                    

‘No less than thirteen children were born during the voyage, and the sufferings of the women from the close and confined space set apart for them were great in the extreme.                           

‘From the experience of this voyage it is to be hoped that troops may never again be sent out in such a crowded state, or under such disadvantageous circumstances. Independent of the discomfort and misery entailed on the officers and men, the expense to the country must have been such that it would have been more economical to have sent out the whole of the Regiment by the overland route.’