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1
Vessels / Re: HMS Ruby (1776 - 1821)
« Last post by Bilgerat on Today at 17:58:18 »
In action, ships furled their courses (the bottom sail on the mast for those unfamiliar with square rigs) to reduce the risk of fires caused by burning wads from the enemy ship. The wad was usually a bundle of oakum rammed into the muzzle to stop the shot rolling out and almost always caught fire when the gun was fired. At longer ranges this didn't matter as the burning wad fell into the sea alongside the ship, but when engaging at very close ranges, burning wads could and did cause fires. The mizzen mast didn't carry a course although the lowest yard, known as the crossjack yard, was there to provide an anchor point for the mizzen topsail sheets.

You're right in saying that the French ships were close-hauled, so they would have had their yards braced right round so they were probably as fore-and-aft as they would go. The bulk of the thrust when a square-rigged vessel is this close to the wind would be provided by the fore-and-aft sails (the staysails and the driver), which is why they were there. They would have come off the wind a little to gain speed to enable them to go about (to change tack by passing the bow through the eye of the wind), a complex manoeuvre in a square-rigged vessel because as she comes into the wind, the square sails have the effect of slowing her down. I doubt that they would have been doing more than six or seven knots close-hauled, depending on the wind-strength, but this would have increased as they came off the wind, giving them the momentum required to push the ship around.

William Laird Clowes had access to the ship's logs when he wrote his History of the Royal Navy, so I would imagine that the diagrams of the various actions he describes are as accurate as they could be.
2
Vessels / Re: HMS Ruby (1776 - 1821)
« Last post by MartinR on Today at 09:35:23 »
Thanks, that was most interesting.  If the map of the Second Action off Monti Christin is accurate it shows the French coming up to nearly 65ļ off the wind, a lot closer than I thought ships of this period could do.  I'm guessing that that is why ships of the time are often shown with the course furled so that the staysails and spanker could be brought into use as a fore-and-aft rig.  Do you have any information on this?
3
Vessels / Re: HMS Ruby (1776 - 1821)
« Last post by conan on Yesterday at 23:33:39 »
Once again Bilgerat, you've increased my knowledge of British history. I had no idea, for a start, that we'd blown the hell out of Copenhagen. Thank you for all of these amazing insights.
4
Residential / Re: Estate and Road Names
« Last post by Roseann on Yesterday at 19:47:45 »
Does anyone know why the names of these roads built before the war and one of the earliest council estates in upper Rochester were named so; Breton rd, Warden rd, Dale rd, Dickens, Bridge rd and Roffen rd which I have read here this one is known the reason for, all these are on the Maidstone road estate not far from Priestfield rd (not to be confused with the private Copperfield estate). I would love to know.
5
Camps & Barracks / Re: Royal Marine (Globe) Theatre, Chatham
« Last post by smiffy on Yesterday at 18:53:16 »
It was still there on the 1961 OS but not on the 1969 one.

6
Landing Grounds / Re: RFC Wye - Forgotten Former WW1 Home Defence and Training Airfield
« Last post by Di on November 10, 2018, 19:56:06 »
Iíve just found this forum on the eve of November 11th 2018, 100 years after the end of the First World War.  My great uncle died on 1 May, 1918, in a flying accident.  He was 2nd lieutenant Duncan McCarter, based at Wye.  I have a photo of him in flying uniform somewhere and when I can lay my hands on it Iím going to see if I can identify him in some of these photos.  What a lovely surprise to find the forum.  So apt to see it today!

Must say that I struggled with the verification answers as I live up north!
7
Vessels / HMS Ruby (1776 - 1821)
« Last post by Bilgerat on November 10, 2018, 18:27:50 »
HMS Ruby was a 64-gun, third rate ship of the line of the Intrepid Class, built at the Woolwich Royal Dockyard.

The Intrepid Class was a group of fifteen 64-gun ships designed by Sir John Williams, Co-Surveyor of the Navy, of which eight were built in the Kent Royal Dockyards. HMS Ruby was one of four ships of the class to be built at Woolwich, the others being HMS Intrepid, HMS Defiance and HMS Sampson. The other Kent-built ships of the class were HMS America, HMS Magnanime and HMS Standard, built at Deptford and HMS Polyphemus, built at Sheerness.

Sir John Williams was appointed Co-Surveyor in June of 1765 on the retirement of William Bately, to work alongside Sir Thomas Slade. His previous appointment had been as Master Shipwright at the Sheerness Royal Dockyard. Slade died in office on the 22nd February 1771, so Sir John Williams worked alone as Surveyor of the Navy until the appointment of Sir Edward Hunt as Co-Surveyor on 11th April 1778.

See here for the stories of HMS Magnanime:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=20040.msg178836#msg178836

and HMS Polyphemus:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=15120.msg123761#msg123761

The 64-gun, Third Rate Ship of the Line was the smaller of two main types of Third Rate ship, the other being the larger, more powerfully armed and much more numerous 74-gun ship. More agile than the 74-gun ships, the 64-gun ship had an additional advantage over the seventy-four in that they were cheaper to build and operate. Their smaller size made them ideal for use in far-flung Stations such as those in the far east, the South Atlantic, South Africa and the Caribbean, where their relative lack of firepower would not be such a disadvantage. By the end of the 18th century however, the 64-gun ships were seen as being too small and weak to stand in a line of battle against larger and more powerfully armed French and Spanish ships and no new ones were ordered by the Navy Board after 1782. A group of five 64-gun ships entered service in 1796, but they had originally been ordered as large merchant ships by the Honourable East India Company and purchased by the Navy Board while still under construction and were converted after being launched. All of the 64-gun ships had been withdrawn from front line service by the end of the French Wars in 1815, with the exception of three ships converted into large Heavy Frigates.

On the 30th November 1769, Mr Nicholas Phillips, Master Shipwright in the Woolwich Royal Dockyard received a letter from the offices of the Navy Board instructing him to cause to be set up in the Kings Dock Yard at Woolwich, a ship of 64 guns, to the design of HMS Intrepid, at the time under construction at Woolwich, for which the plans and specifications had been sent back in 1765, at his earliest convenience. The reason that the Navy Board wrote directly to him was because the Royal Dockyards at Woolwich and Deptford were administered directly by the Navy Board in London, rather than by a Resident Commissioner like the Dockyards further afield. The end of the Seven Years War in 1763 had led to large scale layoffs of skilled craftsmen in all the Royal Dockyards except Chatham, which was spared the severe cuts to their budgets because it was being restored and converted into a building and major repair yard after almost a century of neglect which had arisen from the end of the Dutch Wars in the late 17th Century. Those manpower shortages at Woolwich meant that the new ship's first keel section wasn't laid until the 9th September 1772. Construction proceeded slowly at Woolwich and HMS Ruby wasn't launched into the River Thames until the 26th November 1776. During the period in which the ship had been on the stocks at Woolwich, what had begun in Britain's American colonies as political debate and protests over the taxes imposed by the Government in London, intended to help towards paying the huge debts run up during the Seven Years War had escalated into a large-scale, armed rebellion, which the rebelling colonists were winning. The rebels' successes so far in the war had persuaded the French to begin quietly supplying them with arms and money; a fact which did not go unnoticed in London.

After her launch, HMS Ruby was not fitted out immediately. Instead, the ship was secured to a mooring buoy in the river and was left with her hatches and gunports sealed shut. March of 1776, while the ship was still on the stocks in Woolwich, had seen the British driven from their stronghold at Boston by the Americans, while at the same time, an American attempt to invade Quebec was defeated by the British. The fortunes of war continued to ebb and flow in favour of each side until October of 1777, when a British army under General Burgoyne attempted to invade rebel-held territory from Quebec and was defeated by the Americans in two battles at Saratoga. This defeat forced the British to consider compromise with the rebels and a commission was appointed with the power to give the Americans the concessions they had wanted back in the beginning of the conflict. The French, concerned about the loss of influence this would cause, invited a delegation from the Americans to Paris to negotiate. The resulting Treaty, the 1778 Treaty of Amity and Commerce recognised the United States of America as a sovereign nation for the first time and in return for a promise from the Americans to consider nothing less than complete independence from the UK, the French offered unlimited funding and military assistance. On March 17th 1778, with the Americans no longer interested in diplomacy, Great Britain declared war on France and the conflict began to escalate into a full-blown world war between the superpowers of the day.

In the meantime, in September of 1777, HMS Ruby commissioned under Captain Joseph Deane for the Channel Fleet, which was under the overall command of Vice-Admiral Sir Augustus Keppel, but did not begin fitting for sea until February of 1778. On the 27th February 1778, HMS Ruby was declared complete at Woolwich after build costs of £26,980.12s.5d and fitting costs of a further £4562.9s.11d. After being declared complete, the ship left Woolwich bound for Spithead to await further orders on the 24th May 1778.

On completion, HMS Ruby was a ship of 1,369 tons, she was 131ft long along her keel and 159ft 6in long along her upper gundeck. 44ft 6in wide across her beams, she drew 11ft 2in of water at the bows and 16ft 10in at the rudder. The ship was armed with 26 x 24pdr long guns on her lower gundeck, 26 x 18pdr long guns on her upper gundeck, 2 x 9pdr long guns on her forecastle with ten more on her quarterdeck and a dozen or so half-pounder swivel guns attached to her forecastle and quarterdeck bulwarks and in her fighting tops. She was manned by a crew of 500 officers, seamen, boys and Marines.

Intrepid Class Plans

Orlop Plan:



Lower Gundeck Plan:



Upper Gundeck Plan:



Quarterdeck and Forecastle Plans:



Inboard Profile and Plan:



Sheer Plan and lines:



A damaged, generic model of a 64-gun, Third rate Ship of the Line dating from 1777. Although not necessarily that of an Intrepid Class ship, this model serves to illustrate what HMS Ruby would have looked like when completed. The model is in the collection of the National Maritime museum and the starboard quarter gallery has been broken off and lost in the over 200 years since it was completed. This is the port broadside view:



Port Bow view:



Port Quarter view showing the damage to the model:



Captain Joseph Deane was an experienced combat commander, who had received his first command appointment during the Seven Years War, when on the 23rd February 1758 he had been appointed Master and Commander in the 6pdr-armed 14-gun fireship HMS Vesuvius. Prior to that, he had passed his examination for Lieutenant on the 29th April 1755. He spent about eight months as Master and Commander in HMS Vesuvius; an appointment which came to an end when he was Posted, or promoted to Captain and appointed to command the 9pdr-armed ex-French post-ship HMS Eurus of 24 guns.

In the meantime, the Admiralty had been caught unawares by the declaration of war. The Government of Lord North had gambled on the success of the ongoing campaign against the rebels in North America during 1777, which was ended with the defeats at Saratoga mentioned earlier. For this reason, the preparations for a major reinforcement of the fleet operating in the Caribbean and off North America were significantly behind schedule. On the 13th April 1778, a French fleet of 12 ships of the line and five frigates under the Compte D'Estaing had left Toulon bound for North America. The French, prior to the British declaration of war, had let it be known that this force was bound for Brest, where 20 ships of the line were already known by the British to be being prepared for sea. Once the declaration of war was issued, the Admiralty issued orders that merchant vessels were only to proceed across the Atlantic in convoy and that ships were to wait to be convoyed at Spithead. The destination of D'Estaing's fleet was unknown until the British frigate which had followed them out of Toulon arrived in the UK with news that they had followed the French fleet to a point 90 leagues (or 270 miles) west of Gibraltar, when it had become obvious that they were not, in fact, bound for Brest, but for either North America or the West Indies. This led to a state of panic in the Government and in the Admiralty and Vice-Admiral Keppel had been forced to order that prisons in the Portsmouth area be raided to find men and that ships not immediately required for the reinforcement of naval forces off North America also give up men, including HMS Ruby. This forced Captain Deane to send out his own press-gangs to find replacements for the men ordered to be transferred to the other ships, which caused more delays in HMS Ruby's own preparations for sea.

Meanwhile, discontent was growing amongst the Masters and owners of the ships waiting at Spithead to be convoyed across the Atlantic, some of which had been waiting since February. HMS Ruby was one of two ships assigned as the convoy escort, the other being the third rate ship HMS Boyne (68). The readiness for departure of both ships had been severely delayed by their being stripped of men so that the reinforcements for North America could leave. The original departure date had been planned for the 10th April and in early May, 45 owners and Masters signed a letter to the Admiralty: "The convoy had been appointed to sail on April 10th and many of the ships had been ready since early February. Is this not shameful usage my Lords, thus to deceive the public in general? There are two hundred ships, loaded with provisions waiting at Spithead these last three months. The average expense of each ship amounts to £150 monthly, so the whole expense of the West India fleet amounts to £90,000".

The West India Convoy, escorted by HMS Ruby and HMS Boyne finally left Spithead on the 26th May. On arrival in the West Indies, the ship was to join the Jamaica Station, commanded by Rear-Admiral Peter Parker, who flew his command flag in the 50-gun, 4th-rate ship of the line HMS Bristol. The fleet bound for North America finally left Spithead on the 9th June.

See here for the story of HMS Bristol:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=16158.msg135633#msg135633

On March 7th 1779, HMS Ruby had her first brush with the enemy when, while patrolling in company with HMS Bristol and the frigates HMS Niger and HMS Aeolus (both 12pdr-armed ships of 32 guns), they chased the ex-British frigate La Minerve (formerly HMS Minerva, 12pdr-armed, 32 guns). The French frigate fired chain and bar-shot from 12pdr guns moved to her stern chase gunports into HMS Niger's rigging, severely damaging it and forcing the British ship to fall behind, which allowed the Frenchman to escape before HMS Ruby could intervene.

In April 1779, Captain Deane died and was replaced in command of HMS Ruby by Captain Michael John Everett. HMS Ruby was his first rated command; his previous command appointment had been as Master and Commander in the 14-gun brig-sloop HMS Badger.

See here for the story of HMS Niger:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=18266.msg159047#msg159047

and HMS Aeolus:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=16569.msg161661#msg161661

On June 2nd 1779, HMS Ruby was patrolling off Haiti in company with HMS Aeolus when they sighted and chased the French frigate La Prudente (12pdr, 32). HMS Ruby chased the French frigate for a number of hours and received damaging fire from the enemy ship's very well-aimed stern chase guns. Fire from these guns killed Captain Everett and a seaman aboard HMS Ruby and when the ship came up to the French frigate, rather than face an unequal fight against a British ship of the line, La Prudente surrendered.

After the Capture of La Prudente, HMS Ruby returned to Jamaica with her prize, which was commissioned into the Royal Navy under her French name. HMS Ruby remained under the temporary command of her First Lieutenant until 13th January 1780, when Captain John Cowling was appointed in command.

On 20th March 1780, HMS Ruby was in company with HMS Niger and the 9pdr-armed 28-gun frigate HMS Pomona. In the small hours of the morning of 22nd March, heavy gunfire was heard and the three British ships headed towards its source. The source was quickly identified as being a force of three British ships which had been in action against a superior enemy force. The three British ships were HMS Lion (64), HMS Bristol and the 44-gun two-decker HMS Janus. The French force ranged against them comprised the 74-gun ships L'Annibal and Le Diademe, the 64-gun ship Reflechi and the 50-gun ship L'Amphion. On sighting the three British newcomers, the French force made more sail and headed off. The commander of HMS Janus, Captain Bonovier Glover had died of natural causes during the action and his place in command of that ship had temporarily been taken by the First Lieutenant of HMS Bristol, a certain Mr Horatio Nelson. HMS Janus had been the most severely damaged of the British ships in the First Action off Monti Christi, having had her mizzen-topmast and fore-topgallant masts shot away.

Exactly three months later, HMS Ruby was part of a force commanded by Captain the Honourable William Cornwallis in HMS Lion. In addition to HMS Lion and HMS Ruby, the force also comprised HMS Hector (74), HMS Sultan (74), HMS Salisbury (50) and HMS Bristol. Captain Cornwallis had been ordered to escort a convoy bound for the UK as far as Bermuda, then return to Jamaica. On the 20th June, having completed this task, the squadron was on it's way back to Jamaica when they sighted a number of sail which turned out to be a group of French transport ships carrying 5,000 troops bound to Rhode Island. The transports were escorted by a formidable force of warships, an 80-gun ship, two ships of 74 guns and four of 64 guns, all under the command of Contre-Admiral (Rear-Admiral) Charles-Henri-Louis d'Arsac, Chevalier de Terney. Two of the French ships were with the convoy, the rest were stationed upwind. On sighting the British force, the two upwind French ships altered course to join the main body of de Terney's force. HMS Ruby by this time had separated from the rest of Cornwallis' force and when the whole French force altered course towards the British and formed a line of battle, their new course threatened to cut HMS Ruby off from the rest of her squadron. HMS Ruby went about and headed towards the rest of her squadron to avoid this, with the French force in chase. Cornwallis ordered his squadron to wear ship, form a line of battle and support HMS Ruby. Both lines of battle drew parallel to each other and opened fire at long range and the exchange of fire continued until the French hauled off. Both commanders were criticised in some quarters for not bringing the other to action, but Cornwallis was judged to be correct in declining an action against a vastly superior enemy force. De Terney was criticised by some of his captains for not bringing the inferior British force to action, but fended off the criticism by explaining that his mission was to protect the troopships and that to risk his ships being damaged in an unnecessary action was foolhardy and reckless, especially as he had no idea what, if any, British forces were waiting for him at his destination. Shortly after their arrival off Newport, Rhode Island, Rear-Admiral de Terney died of Typhus aboard his flagship, the 80-gun Duc de Bourgogne on the 15th December 1780. He is buried in the cemetery of Trinity Church in Newport.

Tracks of the ships in the Second Action off Monti Christi, taken from Clowes Vol III:



In October of 1780, HMS Ruby was part of a squadron under Rear-Admiral Sir Joshua Rowley. In addition to HMS Ruby, Rowley's squadron also comprised HMS Grafton, HMS Thunderer, HMS Berwick, HMS Hector (all of 74 guns), HMS Stirling Castle (64) and HMS Bristol. On the 5th October off San Domingo, the squadron was caught at sea in what is now regarded as the most powerful hurricane ever recorded, the Great Hurricane of 1780. That night, in the most violent weather, HMS Thunderer disappeared and was never seen again. HMS Grafton was dismasted and the wreckage of her masts alongside was threatening to pierce the hull and sink the ship. Twenty-five of her crew volunteered for the incredibly dangerous work of cutting the wreckage away in the mountainous seas; a task which was completed without loss to her crew in a testament to their skill and courage. HMS Stirling Castle was driven ashore on the coast of San Domingo and was wrecked with the loss of all but 50 of her crew. HMS Berwick was so badly damaged that she had to return to the UK for repairs and the rest of the squadron, including HMS Ruby were dismasted. The Great Hurricane of 1780 killed more than 22,000 people across the Caribbean region. On the British-held island of Barbados, only two houses on the entire island were left standing, bark was stripped from trees and the Naval Hospital was destroyed when it was struck by a ship. According to meteorologists, this level of damage could only have occurred if the average wind speed was greater than 200mph. In recorded history since, only Hurricane Mitch in 1998 came close to the Great Hurricane of 1780 in terms of the numbers killed. French possessions fared no better and 9,000 people were killed on Martinique alone.

See here for the story of HMS Thunderer:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=20247.msg181558#msg181558

HMS Ruby and her crew saw no further action in the Caribbean during this commission and on the 1st January 1782 they were paid off at Portsmouth so that the ship could undergo an overdue refit.

HMS Ruby was taken into the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard in March 1782 and the work took until August to complete, at a cost of £15,326.2s.1d. As well as a general spruce-up, the work involved her lower hull being sheathed in copper for the first time. In addition to this, her armament was revised. The ship was fitted with a pair of 24pdr carronades on her forecastle and six of her quarterdeck 9pdr long guns were swapped out for 24pdr carronades. Six more carronades, 18pdrs, were fitted to the poop deck. In August of 1782, HMS Ruby recommissioned for the Channel Fleet under Captain John Collins.

Captain John Collins was an experienced combat veteran who had passed his examination for Lieutenant on the 15th June 1757. He had seen action as Third Lieutenant in HMS Valiant (74) during the Invasion of Belle Ile in 1761 and the Capture of Havana the following year. He had received his first command appointment in January of 1771 when he had been appointed as Master and Commander in the bomb vessel HMS Infernal and had subsequently commanded the 6pdr-armed, 16-gun ship-sloop HMS Nautilus until just before the outbreak of war with France in 1778. Posted, or promoted to Captain on the 1st February 1778, he had been appointed to command the 9pdr-armed, 24-gun post-ship HMS Camilla the following November, a post he held until he paid that ship off at Chatham to be refitted and coppered in November of 1781.

See here for the story of HMS Valiant:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=15006.msg122729#msg122729

The Channel Fleet was by this time, under the overall command of Vice-Admiral Richard, the Earl Howe, a well-respected and popular leader affectionately known to the men as 'Black Dick'. The Spanish had by now, joined in the war alongside the French, but their main aim was to retake Gibraltar, which had been under seige since they entered the war in 1779. The British were determined to hold onto the colony come what may and the siege had been relieved twice in the war already and was in dire need of a further relief. Lord Howe had been ordered to take a huge convoy to the Rock and break through the Franco-Spanish fleet blockading Gibraltar with pretty much the whole Channel Fleet. HMS Ruby had been assigned to the first squadron of the Vanguard Division, commanded by Vice-Admiral Samuel Barrington, who flew his command flag in the 100-gun, first rate ship of the line HMS Britannia. Lord Howe commanded the fleet from his flagship, the first rate ship HMS Victory, also of 100 guns. In addition to HMS Ruby and HMS Britannia, the 1st squadron of the Vanguard Division also comprised the second rate ships of the line HMS Atlas (98), HMS Royal William (formerly a first rate ship of 100 guns, but cut down to a second rate ship of 84 guns and by far the oldest ship in the fleet having first been launched as far back as 1670), HMS Ganges and HMS Goliath (both of 74 guns).

See here for the stories of HMS Atlas:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=19543.msg173096#msg173096

and HMS Goliath:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=20294.msg182071#msg182071

The Channel Fleet set sail from Spithead on the 11th September 1782 and arrived off Gibraltar exactly a month later. At this point, the British had an amazing stroke of luck. A storm had scattered the enemy fleet on the 10th October and Lord Howe was able to get the convoy into Gibraltar without opposition. The same storm also swept Lord Howe's fleet eastwards, into the Mediterranean and he knew that he would have to get through the massive enemy fleet, of 49 ships of the line, fighting his way through them if necessary, in order to get the bulk of the Royal Navy's Channel Fleet home. With the safe delivery of the convoy, Lord Howe ordered the fleet to anchor, in order to await better weather, but on the 19th October, the enemy was sighted to the east of Gibraltar, so Howe ordered the fleet to weigh anchor and head west. Howe did not want to engage the superior Franco-Spanish force, which had the advantage of having more larger ships in that no less than seven of their ships mounted 100 or more guns. This included the gigantic Spanish ship Santissima Trinidad, mounting 140 guns on 4 gundecks; the largest and most powerful ship in the world at the time. Howe, on the other hand, only had two ships mounting 100 guns, HMS Victory and HMS Britannia. The British ships had the advantage of having had their lower hulls sheathed in copper to keep them clean and this gave them a huge advantage in speed.

Howe wanted to give the Spanish the impression he wanted to fight, so that they would shorten sail and prepare for battle and to this end, he ordered his fleet to reduce sail and to tighten the line of battle. Early in the morning 20th October, the Spanish Admiral, Louis de Cordova signalled a general chase, intending to fall on the British line of battle and annihilate them with weight of numbers and superior firepower. At about 13:00, the British further reduced sail, allowing the Spanish to close within about two miles and at 17:45, the Spanish vanguard opened fire, to which the British replied in kind. Howe then ordered his fleet to make all sail and use their advantage of superior speed and get away from the Spanish. By dawn the following day, the fleets were about 12 miles apart, with the British pulling away. The Spanish gave up their attempts at bringing Howe's fleet to action and resumed their blockade of Gibraltar. Gibraltar was saved and was able to hold out for the rest of the war. The Great Siege of Gibraltar, from 1779 to 1783 remains the longest seige ever endured by British forces. In what is now called the Battle of Cape Spartel, HMS Ruby suffered casualties of six men killed.

Howe's Relief of Gibraltar by Richard Paton:



On the 10th December 1782, HMS Ruby was part of a squadron under Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Hughes, flying his command flag in the 80-gun three-decker HMS Princess Amelia. The squadron was off Barbados when they spotted a French squadron and gave chase. HMS Ruby caught up with a French ship, the Solitaire of 64 guns. After a hard-fought action in which the additional carronades now mounted on HMS Ruby proved their worth, the Solitaire surrendered. In the Capture of the Solitaire, HMS Ruby suffered two men wounded, but the casualties on the French ship were far higher, with over 20 killed and 35 wounded. After her capture, the Solitaire was taken into the Royal Navy under her French name, but was sold at Sheerness after the war, in 1786. For his success in this action, Captain John Collins was knighted on the 4th July 1783.

See here for the story of HMS Princess Amelia:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=15170.msg124208#msg124208

In the meantime, back in March of 1782, the Tory government of Lord North which had been in power since before the war started, had fallen and had been replaced by a Whig-led coalition lead by the Marquess of Rockingham. The Whig party, which had been against the war in the first place, wanted it ended as soon as possible. The destruction of the French fleet at the Battle of the Saintes in the Caribbean on the 12th April 1782 had ended French ambitions there and the British military disaster at Yorktown the previous September had rendered Britain's continued rule over their American colonies untenable. Additionally, British successes in India meant that French influence in the sub-continent had declined even further. From the point of view of all the governments involved, further fighting was futile and was an expensive waste of both lives and money. Therefore, later in April 1782, peace talks had opened between the combatant nations. France, already pretty much bankrupt when the war had started in 1778, was only too happy to negotiate and it was clear to the Spanish that their primary aim of retaking Gibraltar was not going to happen any time soon, so they were also happy to begin peace talks. The Royal Navy's ability to relieve any siege which might be laid against the Rock strengthened Britain's hand in the negotiations and the British refused to consider anything offered by the Spanish in exchange for it. The negotiations resulted in the Treaty of Paris, signed in September of 1783, to be effective from the following March, but by the time the ink was dry on the Treaty, with the exception of the ongoing campaign in India, the war was all but over anyway.

At the end of 1783, HMS Ruby returned to Portsmouth and was paid off into the Portsmouth Ordinary. In January of 1784, Captain Sir John Collins was appointed to command one of the Portsmouth Guardships, HMS Hector of 74 guns.

Being fitted for the Ordinary meant the removal of the ship's sails, yards and the associated running rigging, her guns were removed and accommodation was fitted for the skeleton crew required to man the ship while she was out of commission. She became the responsibility of the Master Attendant at the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard, who would send gangs of labourers to the ship if she required repairs or maintenance above the skills of her skeleton crew. Between July 1785 and March 1786, the ship was in the Royal Dockyard undergoing a middling repair.

The American War of Independence had left the French government of King Louis XVI utterly broke, which meant that when a succession of failed harvests struck the country in the late 1780's, the Government was unable to buy in famine relief which had led to people starving to death in the streets of major French cities, including Paris itself. In July 1789, the people had had enough and the King was removed from his position of absolute power in the Revolution. A settlement was imposed whereby the power of the King was limited by an elected assembly. The British supported the establishment of a Constitutional Monarchy, much like our own, because they felt that the ability of the French king to go to war on a whim was ended. King Louis XVI was not going to take this lying down and over the course of the next few years, the country slid towards civil war, with groups supporting the end of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic becoming involved in an increasingly bitter and violent conflict. The British, fearing the establishment of a Republic in the rival superpower on their doorstep and with Republican sentiment on the increase at home, began to quietly subsidise and arm Royalist groups in France, particularly in the Vendee Region along the French Biscay coast. Things came to a head in late 1792 when the French King attempted to flee Paris and join with Royalist groups fighting on his behalf. He was caught and imprisoned. In December 1792, the new Revolutionary Government in France abolished the Monarchy and proclaimed a Republic. The King and Queen were tried and convicted of treason in January of 1793 and were executed, beginning the so-called Reign of Terror. In protest, the British expelled the French Ambassador and on 1st February 1793, France declared war on the UK.

In March of 1793, HMS Ruby was taken into the Royal Dockyard and was prepared for sea. In April, the ship was commissioned for the Channel Fleet under Captain Sir Richard Hussey Bickerton, the Second Baronet Bickerton of Upwood in the County of Huntingdon.

Captain Sir Richard Bickerton had first entered the Royal Navy as Midshipman-in-Ordinary at the age of 14 in the 60-gun, 4th rate ship of the line HMS Medway in 1774. He passed his examination for Lieutenant on 16th December 1777 and received his first command appointment when he was made Master and Commander in the 4pdr-armed, 14-gun brig-sloop HMS Swallow on 21st March 1779. He was first Posted or promoted to Captain on the 8th February 1781 and was appointed to command the ex-Spanish, 80-gun third rate ship of the line HMS Gibraltar. His previous command appointment had been in the 9pdr-armed, 28-gun frigate HMS Sibyl, which he had paid off in October of 1790. He spent the years between paying off HMS Sibyl and taking command of HMS Ruby 'on the beach' as a half-pay Captain.

As soon as the war had started, Lord Howe, by now a full Admiral, was reappointed as Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Fleet and had hoisted his command flag in the almost brand-new first rate ship of the line HMS Queen Charlotte of 100 guns.

By the spring of 1794, France was in trouble. The harvest the previous year had failed and the famine which had triggered the Revolution in the first place was showing no signs of abating. The fact that France was at war with all her neighbours precluded overland shipments, so the Revolutionary Government had looked to their colonies and to the United States for assistance. By March, they had arranged for a huge shipment of grain from the Americans. In order to minimise the risk of interception of this vital cargo by the British, it was arranged between France and the USA that it should be shipped across the Atlantic in one go. A massive convoy of over 100 merchant ships assembled in Hampton Roads in Chesapeake Bay. This contained enough food to feed the whole of France for a year. From the French point of view, failure was not an option. The convoy was expected to take up to two months to cross the Atlantic and departed American waters on 2nd April 1794.

The British were aware of the convoy and it's importance to France and had made preparations for it's interception and destruction. It was hoped that if Lord Howe and his Channel Fleet could succeed in destroying the convoy, the war may well come to an early end. On 2nd May 1794, Lord Howe led the Channel Fleet out of the anchorage off St Helens, Isle of Wight in order to begin the search for the French convoy.

HMS Ruby was part of a squadron of seven ships of the line and a frigate led by Rear-Admiral George Montagu, flying his command flag in the 74 gun-ship HMS Hector. In addition to HMS Hector and HMS Ruby, the squadron also comprised of HMS Alexander, HMS Ganges, HMS Theseus, HMS Bellona and HMS Arrogant (all of 74 guns), plus the frigate HMS Venus (12pdr 36). This force was detached from the main body of the Channel Fleet with orders to escort the East India Convoy past the dangers presented by French privateers and naval units and then cruise off Cape Ortegal until 20th May. Howe's plan was to cruise in mid-Atlantic in search of the French convoy and should they fail to find them, rendezvous with Montagu's squadron and intercept the convoy as it closed with the French coast. In any case, Montagu's orders were to intercept the convoy if it was sighted as Lord Howe and the Admiralty knew that the convoy itself only had two French ships of the line as close escort, the Tigre and Jean Bart (both of 74 guns). While waiting, Montagu's force recaptured some British merchant vessels taken by the French and learned from them that the entire French Atlantic Fleet was at sea, searching for Lord Howe in order to prevent him from intercepting the convoy. What Montagu didn't know was that Lord Howe was already in pursuit of it far to the west of Ushant, so he sent HMS Venus in search of the fleet to inform him that the French were at sea in numbers and then return. Montagu waited in vain for several more days after the 20th May for the return of HMS Venus and having sighted neither the convoy or the French Fleet, complied with his orders and returned to Plymouth, arriving on 30th May.

News of Montagu's return to Plymouth reached the Admiralty on 2nd June. The Admiralty were of the view that the interception and destruction of the convoy was the absolute, number one priority and that all available resources were to be dedicated to that end. Orders were sent at once to Plymouth for Rear-Admiral Montagu to take his squadron and wait off Ushant for either intelligence from Lord Howe or in the event of Howe having already engaged the French Atlantic Fleet, to protect any disabled British ships, capture any disabled French ships or if any intelligence should reach him concerning the whereabouts of the convoy, he was to find and destroy it. On the 3rd June, the badly damaged HMS Audacious (74) arrived in Plymouth with news of Howe's skirmish against the French Atlantic Fleet on 28th May in which that ship had played a leading part and of Howe's expectation that a decisive engagement against the French was about to occur.

On 4th June, Montagu's squadron including HMS Ruby set sail from Plymouth as ordered, reinforced by the ships of the line HMS Colossus and HMS Minotaur (both of 74 guns) and the frigates HMS Pallas (18pdr, 38) and HMS Concorde (12pdr, 32). At this stage, Rear-Admiral Montagu was not aware that Lord Howe and his fleet had already engaged and defeated the French Atlantic Fleet in the Battle of the Glorious First of June, taking six French ships of the line as prizes and sinking a further one. The squadron reached Ushant in the morning of the 8th of June and at 15:30, sighted and chased 12 sail to their east-south-east. At 16:00, after discovering that eight of the strangers were in fact French ships of the line, Montagu ordered his ships to form a line of battle and stand on to meet the enemy. At 18:00, the enemy, by now identifed as being the Majestueux of 110 guns, the Aquilon, Jupiter, Marat, Nestor, Redoubtable, Revolution (all of 74 guns), plus two frigates, a corvette and a cutter, steered away from the British squadron and made all sail towards the bay of Bertheaume. Rear-Admiral Montagu's squadron, led by HMS Concorde, chased the French into the Bay, where the enemy joined two more ships of the line already lying there. Rear-Admiral Montagu didn't want to fight the enemy in confined waters, close to the shore in the failing light, so at 20:00, ordered his ships to shorten sail and cruise off the Bay, waiting for the next day.

At 07:00 on the 9th of June, the British sighted a strange fleet to their west and two hours later, the strangers were identifed as being no less than nineteen French ships of the line, three frigates and two smaller vessels. What Rear-Admiral Montagu's men had sighted was actually the remnants of the French Atlantic Fleet, heading for land, then at a distance of 17 leagues or about 50 miles from their position. At 09:30, Montagu ordered his ships to form a line of battle and on seeing this, the French did the same. It was Montagu's intention to remain upwind of the enemy. The French formed a very tight line; they had to. Of the nineteen French ships of the line, five of them were totally dismasted and were being towed by other ships and of the ships under tow, two were enormous three-deckers, Republicain of 120 guns, badly damaged and dismasted by HMS Audacious and HMS Leviathan (74) in the Action of the 28th May and Terrible of 110; the others were all ships of 74 guns, including the Mucius and the Jemmappes, all severely damaged and dismasted during the main battle on the 1st of June. Rear-Admiral Montagu now faced a serious problem. He had an enemy force equal to his own on his landward side and a force more than twice his own bearing down on him from his seaward side. In addition, two of his ships, HMS Ganges and HMS Alexander, were sailing particularly badly and were struggling to keep up with the rest and were unlikely to be able to outsail the French if it came to a chase. He decided to head south, and was followed by those French ships which were able to do so. The French were gaining rapidly, despite HMS Ganges and HMS Alexander setting every stitch of sail they could carry. At 17:00, despite the fact that his leading ships were less than four miles behind the British, Villaret de Joyeuse, the French Admiral, ordered his ships to bear up and head back to port. He was concerned that he was being drawn into a trap by the British. Seeing the French bear up, apart from breathing a huge sigh of relief, Rear-Admiral Montagu ordered his ships to head back towards Ushant. On 10th June, having failed to sight either Lord Howe's fleet or the convoy, the Rear-Admiral ordered his force to head back into the English Channel and on the 12th, his ships including HMS Ruby anchored in Cawsand Bay off Plymouth, where they were joined later the same day, by nine of Lord Howe's ships.

On 13th of June, the rest of Lord Howe's battered but victorious Channel Fleet arrived at the great fleet anchorage at Spithead and the celebrations in the UK were ecstatic.

In July 1794, Captain Bickerton was appointed to command the 74-gun ship HMS Ramillies and was replaced in HMS Ruby by Captain Sir Henry Edwin Stanhope. Like many officers of his generation, Captain Stanhope was a veteran of the American War. He had passed his examination for Lieutenant on the 10th March 1777 and first held a command the following year when he was appointed Lieutenant-in-Command of the 8-gun galley HMS Pigot. Appointed Master and Commander in the 6pdr-armed 16-gun ship-sloop HMS Fairy on 6th August 1779, he was posted on 16th June 1781 when he was appointed Captain in HMS Terrible (74) which he commanded during the defeat in the Battle of Chesapeake Bay the following September. He found himself without a command following that battle when HMS Terrible was ordered to be scuttled by Admiral Thomas Graves as a result of the severe damage the ship had received. He subsequently commanded HMS Russell under Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood during the Battle of Saint Kitts in January of 1782. Prior to taking command of HMS Ruby, he had been on the beach as a half-pay Captain after paying off the 9pdr-armed, 28-gun frigate HMS Mercury in July of 1786.

In the summer of 1795, a squadron under Vice-Admiral Sir George Keith Elphinstone with troops under General Sir James Craig had captured the Dutch Cape Colony, the area around modern-day Cape Town, South Africa. By the following summer, HMS Ruby had arrived off Cape Town as part of a reinforcement of Elphinstone's force, which now comprised the ships of the line HMS Monarch (flagship), with HMS Tremendous (both of 74 guns), HMS Ruby, HMS America, HMS Sceptre, HMS Stately, HMS Trident (all of 64 guns), HMS Jupiter (50), the frigate HMS Crescent (18pdr, 36), HMS Sphinx (9pdr-armed post-ship of 24 guns), the ex-French post-ship HMS Moselle of 20 guns, the 32pdr carronade-armed ship-sloop HMS Echo of 18 guns, and the 6pdr-armed ship-sloop HMS Rattlesnake of 16 guns.

See here for the stories of HMS Monarch:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=16244.msg136661#msg136661

and HMS Rattlesnake:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=16244.msg136661#msg136661

The newly conquered Netherlands, now called the Batavian Republic, launched an expedition to retake the Cape Colony from the British. A force of 9 Dutch ships, including three ships of the line was sent, under the command of Rear-Admiral Engelbertus Lucas. This force arrived in Saldanha Bay near the Cape Colony on 6th August 1796. The British had been expecting the Dutch force and when news of their arrival reached General Craig and Vice-Admiral Elphinstone, they immediately made their way to the Bay to confront the Dutch force. Craig arrived with 2,500 troops and 9 heavy field guns. Elphinstone's force including HMS Ruby was prevented from entering the Bay by the weather until 16th August but when conditions became favourable, Lucas found himself trapped. The British naval force was far superior to his own and he surrendered without firing a shot. All 9 of the Dutch ships were taken into Royal Navy service, as were the crews of the Dutch ships, most of whom were actually German anyway.

By November of 1797, HMS Ruby had returned to the UK under Captain Jacob Waller and had paid off into the Chatham Ordinary. The ship was more than twenty years old and was in dire need of repairs, having been in continuous service for four years. In January of 1798, HMS Ruby was taken into the Royal Dockyard at Chatham for the repairs to begin. The work took eighteen months and the ship recommissioned for the Channel Fleet under Captain Alan Hyde Gardner in May of 1799. Two months after this, the repairs were complete having cost £24,923 or almost as much as it had cost to build her in the first place.

After the repairs were completed at Chatham, it was off to Plymouth for blockade duty off Brest for HMS Ruby and her crew. In December 1799, Captain Gardner was appointed to command HMS Resolution (74) and was replaced by Captain Solomn Ferris. On the 17th February 1800, Captain Ferris received orders to victual his ship for six months and to set sail for the Cape of Good Hope. On the 19th, HMS Ruby departed Plymouth as ordered with sealed orders, not to be opened until the ship was 30 leagues west of the Isles of Scilly.

On the 6th March 1800, the Jersey-registered brig Belle Anne arrived in Plymouth. That vessel had been en-route from Virginia to London when she had been taken on the 14th February by the French privateer General Massena of 22guns. She had been retaken by HMS Ruby about 120 leagues west of the Isles of Scilly.

Captain Ferris' orders required him to rendezvous with her sister-ship HMS Magnanime, by now converted into a 24pdr-armed Heavy Frigate and the ex-French 18pdr-armed, 38-gun frigate HMS Melpomene, proceed to the French-held island of Goree off the coast of modern-day Senegal, capture the three French frigates reported to be there as well as the island itself. On the 4th April 1800, the three British ships arrived off the island and on seeing th enemy ships had already left, offered terms of surrender to the French garrison who handed the island over to them without a fight. Following the capture of the island, HMS Ruby was next to rendezvous with an expected convoy of three East Indiamen at St. Helena, in-bound for the UK from Bengal and escort them back to the UK.

On the 30th July 1800, Captain Ferris wrote to Sir Evan Nepean, Secretary to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty as follows:

"His Majesty's Ship Ruby
Off the Start
30th July 1800

Sir,

I beg leave to acquaint you, for the information of their Lordships, that on my passage from St. Helena to England, at 5AM on Sunday the 13th inst. in lat 45deg N and long 29 W, I observed a strange sail to windward, which by her motions appeared to be an enemy cruiser. I therefore thought it right to make all possible sail to reconnoiter her. Night coming on before I could well discover who she was, I shortened sail for the convoy, and at daylight, in the morning of the 14th (it having been calm during the greatest part of the night), I saw the same ship three miles ahead, who, upon my making sail in chase and firing several shot, showed national colours. Light winds having prevailed during the whole of the day, she was enabled by her sweeps to keep just without gunshot, but towards evening, a breeze springing up in our favour, I gained on her fast and at one AM on Tuesday the 15th, took possession of her. She proved to be La Fortune privateer of Bordeaux, a very fine ship, mounting 16 eight pounders, four long twelves and two thirty-six pound carronades, all brass; her complement 202 men, but had on board when taken only 188, the rest having been sent on board the Fame brig from Sierra Leone bound to London, the only capture she had made in a cruise of one month from Bordeaux. I beg leave to add, that she appears to me to be a ship well calculated for HM Service, being remarkably strong built, coppered and copper fastened, and a very excellent sailer: the present is only the second cruise since she was built.

I am &c

Sol. Ferris."


The letter was actually sent aboard the 18pdr carronade-armed fireship HMS Spitfire when she met HMS Ruby coming up the English Channel on the 4th August 1800.

By December 1800, HMS Ruby was lying in the Downs, but by March of 1801, the ship had moved to the Nore. On the 31st March 1801, HMS Ruby hosted the Court Martial of the surviving officers and crew of HMS Invincible (74). That ship had been lost earlier in the month off the coast of Norfolk when she had gone aground on the Hammond Knoll Rock in heavy weather. She had broken free of that but had then gone aground on a nearby sandbank where in the high seas, she had begun to break up. The ship was washed off the sandbank the following evening and had sunk in deep water with the loss of over 400 men, including her commander Captain John Rennie. At the time of her loss, HMS Invincible had been flagship of Rear-Admiral Thomas Totty and she had been on her way to join the fleet assembling off Copenhagen under Vice-Admirals Sir Hyde Parker and Lord Nelson. The Rear-Admiral had been amongst the survivors and he was also being investigated for the loss of the ship. While giving his evidence to the Court Martial Board about the behaviour of the captain and crew of HMS Invincible, Rear-Admiral Totty could barely contain his emotions as he spoke in the highest terms of their coolness, discipline and bravery. The Court Martial Board deplored the loss of an officer like Captain Rennie, who was able to effectively inspire and lead a raw ships company under such circumstances and the Rear-Admiral, the surviving officers and crew were all honourably acquitted.

On the 5th April 1801, HMS Ruby hosted another Court Martial, this time for Mr Thomas Scott, Boatswain in the receiving ship HMS Prince Edward. He had been charged with striking one of the guards on duty and of mutinous behaviour towards Mr Graves, First Lieutenant in HMS Lion, then commissioning following a refit at Chatham, who had come aboard the receiving ship to take men intended for his ship. The Court Martial Board found that the charges were proved in part and stripped Mr Scott of his rank and ordered him to serve "before the mast", ie. as a seaman aboard whichever ship the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty should decide.

The day after the Court Martial, the famous Captain Sir Edward Berry arrived aboard to replace Captain Ferris in command. Captain Sir Edward Berry had become famous as a result of his exploits in the Mediterranean. He had been Flag Captain to Nelson in HMS Vanguard (74) at the Battle of the Nile and had subsequently been taken prisoner by the French during the capture of HMS Leander (50) shortly afterwards. Captain Berry and HMS Leander's commander, Captain Thomas Thompson and her crew had put up a fierce resistance when their ship was cornered by a much more powerful French 74-gun ship, Le Genereux. The French ship had overpowered HMS Leander and her crew with superior firepower and sheer numbers but not without suffering heavy casualties in doing so.

See here for the story of HMS Leander:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=19175.msg169437#msg169437

On the 12th, HMS Ruby left Sheerness bound for Yarmouth, where she was to join a squadron under Rear-Admiral Totty, flying his command flag in HMS Zealous (74) bound for the Baltic Sea. In addition to HMS Zealous and HMS Ruby, Rear-Admiral Totty's squadron comprised HMS Powerful and HMS Vengeance (both of 74 guns), the 24pdr-armed ex-French Heavy Frigate HMS Pomone of 44 guns with the 18pdr carronade-armed gun-brigs HMS Vesuve (ex-French, 3 guns), HMS Wrangler, HMS Ready, HMS Safeguard, HMS Pincher, HMS Eclipse, HMS Boxer, HMS Plumper, HMS Griper, HMS Adder and HMS Cracker (all of 10 guns), the hired armed ship Prince William of 14 guns and the hired armed cutter Drake of 12 guns. This force left Yarmouth on the 21st April and returned on the 19th July.

HMS Ruby spent the rest of the French Revolutionary War in the North Sea, enforcing the blockade of the Dutch fleet (what was left of it after the Battle of Camperdown and the Vlieter Incident) in their bases at Texel and Flushing. On the 24th February 1802, Captain Henry Hill replaced Sir Edward Berry in command. On the 25th March, the Treaty of Amiens was signed, ending the war and on the 7th April, HMS Ruby arrived off Sheerness on her way to Chatham to be paid off into the Ordinary there.

The Peace of Amiens broke down on the 18th May 1803 and on the 10th May, amidst rising tensions with France, HMS Ruby was taken into the Chatham Royal Dockyard to be fitted for sea. On the 28th May, HMS Ruby recommissioned for the North Sea under Captain the Honourable Francis Farington Gardner.

The ship remained in the North Sea until August 1804 when she returned to Chatham for more repairs and was then recommissioned for the Channel Fleet under Captain Charles Rowley. The ship was reported off Cadiz on the 16th December 1804 but by January of 1807, was back in the North Sea.

In the summer of 1807, HMS Ruby was part of the fleet sent to the Baltic under Admiral Sir James Gambier. Despite their defeat at the hands of Nelson at the First Battle of Copenhagen in 1800, the Danes still had a powerful navy. Denmark and Norway were, at the time, a unified kingdom and their navy was more than capable of closing the Kattegat and blocking access to the Baltic Sea. In Britain, the demand for timber for the construction and repair of both warships and merchant ships had outstripped supply by an order of magnitude, so the British were dependant on timber being imported from the Baltic region. After December 1806 when Britains ally Prussia had been defeated by the French, Denmark was looking increasingly vulnerable to attack and invasion by the French. The British government had no wish to go to war with Denmark, so they tried to persuade the Danes to enter into a secret alliance with both Britain and Sweden. Denmark was determined to preserve it's neutrality, so refused the offer. On 14th July 1807, the King gave his permission to send a naval force of 22 ships of the line to the Kattegat to keep a close watch on the Danish fleet and be ready to act swiftly if necessary. On 18th July, the British sent a representative to Denmark to try to persuade the Danes to hand over their fleet. On the same day, the Admiralty ordered that a force of 50 transport ships and warships including HMS Ruby to be gathered and to sail to the Kattegat. The force was to be commanded by Admiral Sir James Gambier.

Admiral Sir James Gambier was an evangelical christian who actively disapproved of the hard-drinking, hard-living lifestyle of many of the sailors of the Royal Navy. As a result, his nickname amongst the fleet was 'Dismal Jimmy'.

On the night of the 21st/22nd July, intelligence reached the British that Napoleon had tried to persuade Tsar Alexander I of Russia to enter into an alliance with Denmark against the British. In response, the British made an offer to the Danes. In return for a Treaty of Alliance, the British would offer the Danes the protection of the 21 ships in the Kattegat and a subsidy towards the upkeep of a standing army. The British promised to return the Danish ships once the war was over. On 31st July 1807, Napoleon ordered his Foreign Minister, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord to tell the Danish to prepare for war against Britain or face invasion. Despite all this, Denmark still refused to give up their neutrality. On 15th August, the British gave up trying to persuade the Danes to hand over their fleet. The die was cast. On 12th August, the Danish frigate Fredriksvaern sailed from the Danish naval base at Elsinor bound for Norway. Admiral Gambier sent HMS Defence (74) and HMS Comus (22) after her and on the 15th, HMS Comus engaged and captured the Danish ship. On 16th August, the British army landed at Vedbaek near Copenhagen and began an artillery bombardment of the city. The British force was commanded by General Sir Arthur wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington). The Danish army was sent to attack the British force. On 29th August, Wellesley defeated the Danes at the Battle of Koge.

The British then issued a Proclamation demanding the handover of the Danish fleet, which was refused. By 2nd September, Copenhagen was encircled by Wellesley's force.

On 22nd and 31st August the Danes attempted to drive off the force of gun brigs and bomb vessels assembling off Copenhagen, but both attacks were repelled. On 1st September, the Danish Commander-in-Chief, Major-General Peiman was summoned to see Admiral Gambier and General the Lord Cathcart to surrender the Danish fleet. In return, the two British Commanders-in-Chief promised to return both the Danish ships and any other captured Danish property after the war. This was met with a firm 'No'.

On 2nd September at 7:30pm, the British opened fire on Copenhagen with everything they had.

The Bombardment of Copenhagen:





The bombardment continued from 2nd September to the 5th and destroyed some 30% of the city, killing some 2000 civilians. On 5th September, the Danes had had enough and offered to surrender. The surrender document was signed by all parties on 7th September. In the surrender agreement, Denmark agreed to hand to the British their entire navy, consisting of 18 ships of the line, 11 frigates, 2 ship-sloops, 7 brig-sloops, 2 gun-brigs, an armed schooner and 26 gunboats. The British army occupied Copenhagen and destroyed three 74 gun ships of the line then under construction. For their part British agreed to occupy Copenhagen for no more than six weeks. On 21st October 1807, the last British troops left Copenhagen and the fleet returned to the UK. Despite this, Britain and Denmark remained at war until 1814.

The Bombardment of Copenhagen, also known as the Second Battle of Copenhagen was controversial at the time. The British, after all, had attacked a neutral country without provocation, causing many civilian casualties. The British government's view was that the attack was a necessary evil and was carried out in order to defend British interests in preventing the Danes, for whatever reason, from interfering with British trade in the Baltic Sea.

In the autumn of 1806, Napoleon had threatened to invade Portugal if she continued to be allied with the British and this caused the British to send Admiral Sir John Jervis, the Lord St. Vincent to Lisbon with a fleet and the promise of financial and military assistance should the French actually invade. The Admiral was also authorised to offer to evacuate the Portugese Royal Family to Brazil should the situation require it. A declaration of war against France by Russia and Prussia distracted Napoleon's attentions away from Portugal for a while but once he had neutralised the threats from those two nations, he once again began to threaten Portugal. Napoleon's main demand was that the Portugese closed their ports to the British, to which the Portugese, fearing an imminent invasion, complied. The news of this reached the British Government in November of 1807 and in response, Rear-Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, flying his command flag in the 120-gun First Rate ship of the line HMS Hibernia, was ordered to take a squadron and blockade Lisbon and the River Tagus. Smith's squadron, in addition to HMS Hibernia, also comprised HMS London (98), HMS Foudroyant (80), HMS Plantagenet, HMS Elizabeth, HMS Conqueror, HMS Monarch, HMS Bedford and HMS Marlborough (all of 74 guns). After conferring with Rear-Admiral Smith, Lord Strangford, the British Ambassador to Portugal presented the Portugese with the British proposals to resove the situation. Portugal could either hand their Navy over to the British, or use it to escort the Royal Family to Brazil, while the British took the country under their protection and dealt with the French. British diplomacy finally pursuaded the Portugese to change their position. It was agreed that Portugal would come under British protection and in addition, the entire Portugese Royal Family would be evacuated to Rio de Janiero, from where they would govern their extensive empire. They would take the entire Portugese Navy with them and the British would run affairs in Portugal until the French threat was either defeated or receded on its own. On 29th November 1807, the Portugese Royal Family put to sea in the Princip Reale (84), Conde Henrique (74), Medusa (74), Principe de Brazil (74), Rainha de Portugal (74), Alfonso D'Albequerque (64), Don Juan de Castro (64), Martino De Freitas (64), Minerva (44), Golfino (36), Urania (32), three 20 gun brig-corvettes and a 12 gun schooner. To assist the Portugese, Rear-Admiral Smith also sent HMS London, HMS Marlborough and HMS Bedford.

See here for the stories of HMS London:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=19093.msg168486#msg168486

HMS Plantagenet:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=20185.msg180766#msg180766   

and HMS Bedford:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=19043.msg168002#msg168002

In the meantime, the Russians had allied themselves with the French and a squadron of nine Russian ships of the line had entered the River Tagus. Rear-Admiral Smith kept those ships blockaded and was reinforced by the arrival of a further squadron under the command of Commodore Peter Halkett, flying his command broad pendant in HMS Ganges (74) also having HMS Defence, HMS Alfred (both also of 74 guns) with HMS Ruby and HMS Agamemnon (64). Rear-Admiral Smith and his ships kept the Russians trapped in the Tagus until the end of the year.

After this, it was back to the Baltic Sea for HMS Ruby, until she returned to Chatham again in April of 1811 for more repairs, which lasted until June. On the 25th July 1811, HMS Ruby sailed for North America and was never to return to the UK. At some point in 1812, HMS Ruby was fitted as a Receiving Ship at Bermuda. The ship remained in Bermuda and was broken up there in April of 1821.
8
Aviation Disasters / Re: Dornier Crash-Landing at Leaves Green. 18th August 1940.
« Last post by poacher on November 09, 2018, 21:00:56 »
Hi,  great footage, The Chap speaking is in fact Captain F H Clarke DCM who served with the Australians in the Great war, CRB Chiesman is standing to his left and CS Chiesman to his right
9
Military / Re: HMS Pembroke
« Last post by georgie on November 09, 2018, 16:43:25 »
Thanks for the reply
My mums name was Bessie Foster born Feb 1924 in Goole she would have being at HMS Pembroke some time during ww2 where she meet my dad , this is the photo I found.

(Bilgerat - Resized the image so it fits on the page).
10
Education / Re: English Martyrs Roman Catholic Primary school Frindsbury.
« Last post by MartinR on November 09, 2018, 16:24:53 »
The church is grade II listed, number 1422504.  See https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1422504 for details.  See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Listed_buildings_in_Frindsbury for a list of all listed buildings in Frindsbury.
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