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One of Mallorcas most picturesque and protected areas is the small island of Cabrera, little is known about its Napoleonic history. In 1809 French troops were defeated by The Spanish and British Forces in the Battle of Bailen. The French were marooned on this uninhabited island, forgotten by their captors they were left to fend for themselves. The island became a death camp and any efforts to escape the island were thwarted by the Spanish gunboats, on occasion British sailors were sympathetic to their plight and were able to take refuge aboard and taken back to Britain. Those left behind, which at any point was between 4 to 5 thousand soldiers and only 22 women, often starving had to at times revert to cannibalism, or suicide. Many of the women gave birth on the island and also resorted to prostitution in order to buy food and water. Water was scares as it arrived by boat and on occasions never arrived, which caused hundreds of deaths.

To keep morale high those that were educated taught fellow prisoners how to read and write and put on productions in the theatre they had built.

Apart from a few rabbits and goats the only creatures that inhabited the island were thousands of black lizards.

During the winter months the winds and waves would wash away the efforts they had made for shelter, and rather than help being sent, only more prisoners were sent another 6000 over four years.

They did however try to build some sort of life for themselves. They formed small communities, with makeshift huts, hospital, cemetery and even a theatre.

When Napoleon abdicated in 1814, the survivors were taken back to France out of 12000 prisoners only 5000 survived. Those that remain are buried on the island without headstones.

Profile for 'The Y' Yachting Itineraries

"The Y" Yachting Handbook 2017 by Estela Shipping  

A unique guide in Owners' and Captains' hands. Indispensable information, itineraries plus hints and tips, updated laws and rules, support a...

"The Y" Yachting Handbook 2017 by Estela Shipping  

A unique guide in Owners' and Captains' hands. Indispensable information, itineraries plus hints and tips, updated laws and rules, support a...