Wartime Wheels 2018 at Caldicot Castle

Held on May 6th – 7th, Wartime Wheels 2018 was the second year of the event at Caldicot Castle which replaced the previous and popular Fortress Wales events. Blessed with glorious weather, the event dwarfed last year in terms of displays and attendance.

All photos were taken on May 6th 2018
Photos: Tony Wilkins


 

Advertisements

BBMF Lancaster lands on 3 engines

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster had to return to RAF Coningsby on the weekend on only three of its four Rolls-Royce Merlin engines after the oil pressure on the no.4 engine started reading as high.

All photos kindly contributed to Defence of the Realm by Jim Knowles.


 

For more images of British military equipment and museums please visit the Galleries section or follow Defence of the Realm on Instagram

If you have photographs or articles you wish to contribute to Defence of the Realm than you can email them to defencerealmyt@gmail.com. If successful you will of course be given full credit for your contribution and can even promote your own website/blog/social media account.

May 3rd 1813 – Admiral Cockburn’s Raid on Havre de Grace

On June 18th 1812, the 4th President of the United States, James Madison Jr, bowed to pressure from those in Congress who wanted war with Britain and signed the declaration. The calls for war came as a result of a number of skirmishes between British and American ships the former of whom were enforcing a blockade against Napoleonic France and despite the US being officially neutral the British still stopped American ships and even press ganged American sailors in to the King’s service.

While it would last until February 18th 1815, the subsequent conflict is still remembered as the War of 1812. With the majority of British forces committed to fighting Napoleon in mainland Europe, the British had little choice but to initially adopt a defensive strategy against the Americans until they could bolster their numbers with troops from Europe and the enlistment of local native American tribes to carry out a guerrilla-style campaign against American troops.

Admiral Sir George Cockburn raid havre de grace 1813 war of 1812 Royal NavyAt sea, the British fleet was under the command of Admiral Sir John Warren who in November appointed the recently promoted Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn (pronounced Co-Burn, Right) as his second-in-command. Cockburn was an experienced officer having seen several actions throughout his career up to that time against the French and Spanish. Cockburn commanded a force of ships that were directed against disrupting US trade and naval/privateer operations along the northeastern US with the two-year old 36-gun fifth rate frigate HMS Maidstone carrying his flag.

On April 23rd 1813, Cockburn’s force captured Spesutie Island located in the Chesapeake Bay in the US state of Maryland. Recognising the fear his fleet had put in the local population he emphasized to them that as long as they did not oppose the British forces using the island as a base then they would be allowed to go about their daily lives. Reporting to Warren on April 29th following a raid on Frenchtown in which five American vessels were destroyed, he outlined his intention to attack any settlement along the American coastline in Chesepeake Bay which hoisted American colours or fired on his force.

A few days later, Cockburn was returning from Frenchtown, sailing to the north of Spesutie Island when he was fired on by US forces based in the town of Havre de Grace. In his report on the subsequent action which was reprinted in the London Gazette, Cockburn admitted that until he observed the gunfire aimed at him from the settlement he had largely disregarded it. Now, he decided that the settlement which was primarily defended by local militia groups should be punished for their resistance however the town was protected by shoal water that was too shallow for the larger of Cockburn’s fleet to sail over.

He therefore anchored his force off nearby Turkey Point on May 2nd 1813 and transferred over 150 Royal Marines to a flotilla of smaller boats that included a number of  rocket boats for fire support under the command of Captain John Lawrence of HMS Fantome. Lawrence and his men set off under the cover of darkness to carry out a dawn attack. HMS Dolphin (12-guns) and HMS Highflyer (8-guns), both former American privateers captured by the British and pressed in to service against their previous owners, attempted to sail with the boats to offer support but were only able to make it to six miles of the settlement because of the shallow waters.

As Lawrence and his men made their way towards the town, their presence was detected by the local population who warned the militia at Havre de Grace of the impending attack. The Americans decided to withdraw rather than fight a pitched battle with the British with less than 40 men remaining when Lawrence struck at dawn. The Americans manned a battery of cannons at Concord Point and it was here the main action was fought. Cockburn’s report describes what happened next;

Captain Lawrence, however, having got up with the boats, and having very ably and judiciously placed them during the attack, a warm fire was opened on the place at daylight from our launches and rocket boats, which was smartly returned from the battery for a short time, but the launches constantly closing with it, and their fire rather increasing than decreasing, that from the battery soon began to slacken, and Captain Lawrence observing this, very judiciously directed the landing of the marines on the left, which movement, added to the hot fire they were under, induced the Americans to commence withdrawing from the battery, to take shelter in the town.

Admiral Cockburn raid havre de grace 1813 war of 1812 Royal Navy

Lieutenant G. A. Westphal, who had taken his station in the rocket boat close to the battery, therefore now judging the moment to be favourable, pulled directly up under the work, and landing with his boats crew, got immediate possession of it, turned their own guns on them, and thereby soon obliged them to retreat with their whole force to the furthest extremity of the town, whither (the marines having by this time landed) they were closely pursued, and no longer feeling themselves equal to a manly and open resistance, they commenced a teazing and irritating fire from behind the houses, walls, trees, etc. from which I am sorry to say, my gallant first lieutenant received a shot through his hand whilst leading the pursuing party; he, however, continued to head the advance, with which he soon succeeded in dislodging the whole of the enemy from their lurking places, and driving them from shelter to the neighbouring woods, and whilst performing which service, he had the satisfaction to overtake, and with his remaining hand to make Prisoner,-and bring in a captain of their militia.

The captured American was Second Lieutenant John O’Neill who had put up a spirited defence which at one point included manning a cannon single-handedly until he was injured from the weapon’s recoil. He was captured along with two militia men as they attempted to escape to the nearby woods. During the entire attack there was only one fatality; an unfortunate resident of Havre de Grace who was killed when a British rocket exploded nearby.

Cockburn instructed his men not to pursue the Americans in to the woods. Instead they were to either seize or destroy American weapons that came in to their possession. Lawrence’s forces did however travel three miles north to destroy the ironworks centred around the Principio Furnace which was involved in manufacturing cannons for the American war effort. With Havre de Grace in British hands, the Royal Marines and sailors took to looting and vandalising the town, burning somewhere in the region of 60% of the entire settlement although the local church was spared.

The raid completed and Cockburn’s desire to punish the Americans satisfied, the British force then moved on up the Susquehanna River to attack an American supply depot. The residents returned to their gutted town, horrified at the destruction and accounts of the raid were widely circulated in the American press vilifying Cockburn especially. In response the British position argued that Cockburn and his men had done nothing the Americans had not done themselves in Canada, specifically the burning of York (modern day Toronto) a few days before the raid. Cockburn’s reputation for brutality amongst the Americans would later be solidified when over a year later he played a major role in the burning of Washington on August 24th 1814.

 

News Round-up – April 26th 2018

Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 Brimstone

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General Defence News

Anzac Day 2018: How do Australia and New Zealand remember soldiers killed in combat?
(The Independent)

Special forces need to face scrutiny from parliament, say MPs
(The Guardian)

Business Secretary clears £8.1bn GKN takeover deal
(St Helens Star)

Red-faced US Navy Seal gets struck in a tree after embarrassing parachuting fail
(Cambridge News)

NATO helps Iraqi forces strengthen vehicle maintenance skills
(NATO HQ)


British Army News

British Army has lowest number of troops available for front-line action since World War 1
(Daily Mirror)

Call for Army veteran to get UK passport
(BBC News)

US, British Army Signal Soldiers exercise technical, tactical interoperability at Stoney Run
(DVIDS)

British Army continues search for robot tech
(Shephard Media)

British Army reveals more MIV details, including price tag
(Shephard Media)

Britain’s oldest army unit headed for Barryville
(The River Reporter)

British soldier ‘not justified’ in shooting dead pregnant teenager, inquest rules
(The Independent)


Royal Air Force News

Head Of The Air Force On Russia Threat And War Memorials Given Protection
(Forces Network)

British Typhoon aircraft return to Romania for air policing mission
(Romania-Insider.com)

RAF Sentinel R1 hunting IS again
(IHS Jane’s 360)

UK to invest £80m for new air command and control system
(Airforce Technology)

RAF 100: Queen Sends Message To RAF
(Forces Network)

Last ever Tornado jet flypast at RAF Marham’s Freedom of the Borough parade
(Norfolk Eastern Daily Press)

New facility for RAF’s P-8 Poseidon fleet
(Shephard Media)


Royal Navy & Marines News

UK Ministry of Defence launches Submarine Delivery Agency
(Naval Technology)

Tiny navy vessel HMS Magpie tackles her sea trials
(The News)

GPS jamming during military exercise Joint Warrior
(BBC News)

UK Royal Navy eyes rotary-wing UAV capability
(Flightglobal)

Royal Navy make a splash with their tribute to royal baby
(Daily Mail)

Royal Marines march through Deal to mark launch of new heritage trail
(Kent Online)


Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

UK, US and France bomb Assad’s chemical weapons

RAF Tornado GR.4s based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus have joined US and French forces in carrying out overnight air strikes against suspected Syrian government chemical weapons facilities. The strikes targeted military bases near the capital Damascus and the city of Homs in response to last week’s alleged chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma.

RAF Tornado GR.4 Storm ShadowBritish Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson described the missions as “highly successful” and that they were aimed at “degrading the ability of the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons.” The Ministry of Defence confirmed that the RAF mission involved Storm Shadow missiles being launched at a former missile base 15 miles west of Homs, where it is thought the Assad regime is stockpiling items used to make chemical weapons.

There have been no reported losses amongst any of the allied forces involved.

April 10th 1795 – Capturing La Gloire

In 1795, the forces of Britain and Revolutionary France had been at war for over two years and the Royal Navy was engaged in a blockade of the main French ports. For their part, the French sent some of their faster ships out in an attempt to bypass the blockade and engage in guerre de course or commerce raiding against British ships along the east coast of England.

At 1000hrs on the morning of April 10th 1795, a British flotilla under the command of Rear-Admiral John Colpoys spotted three French vessels attempting to break out through the Bay of Biscay. The French vessels were led by the 32-gun Gloire and when they realised the British had spotted them, the French commander ordered his force to scatter in the face of the superior British force after the 74-gun HMS Colossus had started firing on them.

Gloire swung north-west while its two compatriots – Gentile and Fraternité – turned west with HMS Hannibal and HMS Robust in hot pursuit of them. Gloire had managed to evade much of the British force except for the frigate HMS Astraea under Captain Lord Henry Paulet, also of 32-guns, which managed to stay in sight of the French warship throughout the afternoon. Finally, at 1800hrs Astrea succeeded in bringing Gloire within range of its quarterdeck cannon and fired several shots which saw Gloire respond with its sternchaser guns.

Royal Navy capture of La Gloire April 10th 1795 by Thomas Whitcombe 1816For over four and a half hours the two warships exchanged cannon fire shot for shot until 2230hrs, when the Astraea finally managed to come alongside the Gloire allowing both to unleash the full fury of their armament on one another. Gloire’s gunners aimed specifically for Astraea’s masts and rigging in an effort to disable the British warship and indeed succeeded in inflicting enough damage on Astraea’s topmast that it eventually collapsed. The British gunners however, concentrated their firepower on the French ship’s hull to silence the opposing gunners or sink the French ship altogether. Among the wounded aboard the Gloire was its captain and at 2328hrs, after sighting two more British warships sailing toward him he ordered the French colours to be lowered signalling the ship’s surrender.

Both vessels were heavily damaged in the engagement with Astraea needing to return to port for repairs to the mast but incredibly had not lost a single man in the engagement even as the topmast collapsed. This was thanks in no small part to the Gloire’s captain ordering his men to try to disable the British ship. By contrast, the Gloire lost 40 men killed or wounded. Sufficient repairs were made to both ships to enable them to sail to Portsmouth for more permanent repairwork with Gloire being sailed by a British prize crew under the command of Astraea’s Lieutenant John Talbot.

More success for the British would come the next morning on April 11th. HMS Hannibal and HMS Robust had continued their pursuit of the Gentile and Fraternité through the night until they managed to surround the Gentile and force its captain to surrender without having to engage in battle. The captain of the Fraternité decided to turn back towards Brest and had his men throw their armaments overboard to lighten the vessel and increase its speed. After several days evading pursuing British ships the Fraternité succeeded in reaching its home port.

Both Gloire and Gentile were pressed in to Royal Navy service with HMS Gloire being kept on charge until 1802.

News Round-up – April 6th 2018

British army sunset soldiers infantry

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General Defence News

Russian spy: What we know so far
(BBC News)

North Korea could nuke the US as early as July 23, 2018, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defence
(SFGate)

Team Tempest pursues UCAS demonstrator deal
(Flightglobal)

Strava’s heatmap was a ‘clear risk’ to security, UK military warned
(Wired)


British Army News

US and British soldiers killed in Syria were on ISIS ‘kill or capture’ mission
(WTKR)

Questions Over British Troops’ Readiness To Fight
(Forces Network)

UK Army officer helps Zambia set up health care education programme
(Devdiscourse)

Rheinmetall says in talks for UK Boxer partners
(euronews)

Squaddie who made Nazi salute has been booted out after Army probe
(The Sun)

British and US armies developing unmanned convoy system
(National Defense Magazine)


Royal Air Force News

When did the RAF turn 100? How was the centenary marked?
(The Sun)

Lincolnshire man petitioning for all RAF members to get medal for 100th anniversary
(LincolnshireLive)

Two RAF fighter jets forced to make emergency landing
(Daily Post North Wales)

Moment RAF Reaper destroys ISIS spy drone after it lands on roof in Syria
(The Sun)

RAF Lossiemouth revamp moves a step closer
(Press and Journal)

British Royal Air Force to receive new BriteCloud missile decoy
(Airforce Technology)


Royal Navy & Marines

UK Opens Persian Gulf Military Base in Bahrain
(Bloomberg)

UK MoD to receive extra funds for Dreadnought
(IHS Jane’s 360)

Croatian and British Marines Complete Joint Military Exercise
(Total Croatia News)

Bones of British sailors being looted as Government fails to honor war dead, campaigners say
(Telegraph)

Royal Navy patrol boats in tour of the north
(Press and Journal)

Newly uncovered photos show German sailors from the sinking WWII battleship Bismarck
(Daily Mail)


Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.