was now left, so that in August, 1927, the company was finally compelled to close down.
Between 1927 and 1956 Malden has been visited only occasionally by H.M. Ships and, as evidence, an unexploded shell found there in
October, 1956, appears to have been used for target practice at some time or other.
H.M.S. Messina landed the first "Grapple" parties on the 3rd October.
They spent some 10 days there establishing a stores dump and generally exploring the island. A wrecked fishing trawler was found on the north coast and it was evident that the crew camped on the island for some time before finally making their departure in one of the old Company's
Some of the relics of the 60 years' occupation were very well preserved. Light trucks on the disused mining railway could still be pushed easily along the rails, and a valuable stock of long-handled spades were put to good use by the Sappers. In the Manager's house, which was somewhat dilapidated (probably due to the target practice just mentioned), stacks of books and records of the old Company were found which underlined the extreme remoteness of the settlers. Especially during World War I they seldom saw a ship more often than once every four or six months.
The little graveyard a few hundred yards from the settlement was found to be very well preserved and told its own story of the harsh conditions and brave spirit of those nineteenth-century settlers. There are two headstones to children aged less than three years old, one of whom was drowned in the surf. Task Force "Grapple" will land a total of more than 1,000 tons of stores and equipment on
Malden in 1956-57, and those of you who take part in this may well remind yourselves and marvel that Andrew McCullough and his small force used. to ship some 12,000 to 14,000 tons of guano out of the island annually.
What will be the fate of Christmas and Malden Islands after the Task Force has withdrawn is a. matter for speculation, but for nearly two hundred years now no one has found it worth their while to remain on Christmas for long. At least, however, in our short stay, we shall have contributed a most eventful chapter in the history of these lonely Pacific Islands.