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How Napoleon could have escaped exile by submarine: Smuggler ‘was offered £40,000’ to rescue emperor from St Helena

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  • Tom Johnson claimed he was offered £40,000 in 1820 to rescue Napoleon
  • Emperor exiled by British to heavily-guarded St Helena after Waterloo loss
  • Escape plan involved mechanical chair and Napoleon putting on disguise
  • But Johnson’s craft was ‘intercepted on Thames’ and Napoleon died in 1821

He was one on the most closely guarded prisoners of all time, with a strong Royal Navy squadron of 11 ships patrolling the South Atlantic island where he was kept 1,200 miles from the nearest land.

Plots to rescue the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte included those using yachts, steamboats and even balloons, but the most extraordinary of all of them was said to have involved a submarine.

Tom Johnson, who was born in 1772 and had worked as a smuggler since the age of 12, claimed he was offered £40,000 in 1820 to rescue Napoleon from exile on St Helena, it was reported on Friday.

Contributed by Guy Gatien
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