January 18th 1813 – First Battle of Frenchtown

With Great Britain embroiled in war with Napoleon’s France, the Royal Navy enforced a blockade aimed at choking France’s economy and neutral ships were not exempt from interception. This especially angered the United States who declared the blockade illegal and were increasingly concerned with American citizens finding themselves press-ganged into manning the blockade. Both American and British forces in Canada found themselves engaged in brief skirmishes such as one between between HMS Leopard and the USS Chesapeake in 1807 after the Leopard tried to board the American ship to search for British deserters.

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. While it would last until February 18th 1815, the war 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.

On August 16th 1812, British Major General Henry Proctor succeeded in forcing the American contingent at Fort Detroit to surrender. This was a major concern for the Americans and so President Madison assigned General William Henry Harrison the task of retaking Fort Detroit during a winter offensive. Harrison split his army into two contingents. The first he commanded personally and marched his men to Upper Sandusky in modern-day Ohio.

The second contingent was led by Brigadier General James Winchester and consisted of 2,000 untrained regulars and volunteers mostly from Kentucky. As his men marched they were met by citizens of nearby Frenchtown which at that time was under occupation by a small British force from the Essex Militia and a native force from the Potawatomi tribe. Disobeying his orders to wait for Harrison and his men, Winchester ordered Lieutenant Colonel William Lewis to lead over 600 American troops to attack the British and their allies at their base across the frozen River Raisin.

Lewis attacked on January 18th and a brisk battle took place before the Americans forced the British and the Potawatomi to retreat. A Canadian militia group counterattacked later in the day but were unable to force Winchester back across the frozen river. During their retreat, the Potawatomi troops fell upon the settlement at Sandy Creek and destroyed it killing two of its inhabitants in the process.

Winchester was pleased with his victory although Harrison was concerned that his force was still outnumbered by British forces in the region. Upon hearing that Frenchtown had been taken, British Brigadier General Henry Procter marched 597 men from the 41st Regiment of Foot and Royal Newfoundland Fencibles along with around 800 native troops from the occupied Fort Detroit. Supported by Canadian artillery, Proctor’s men recaptured Frenchtown after a pitched battle on January 22nd.

The next day, a number of the captured American soldiers were massacred by native troops including a number of wounded soldiers who were burned to death inside the buildings where they were being kept. The native Americans then marched the survivors to Fort Malden in Ontario. Any American who couldn’t keep up was killed at the side of the road. The exact number of prisoners killed is not known but it is believed to be up to 100.



Warbirds at the Quinte International Air Show 2016

The following photographs were donated to Defence of the Realm by Bob Willis and were taken yesterday at CFB Trenton, Canada during the first day of the Quinte International Air Show 2016.

FM213 Lady Orchid, Avro Lancaster KB895 WL-O VR-A Quinte Trenton P-51D Mustang B-25 Mitchell

An awe-inspiring sight; Lancaster, Mitchell and Mustang make a formation fly past of the crowd.

FM213 Lady Orchid, Avro Lancaster KB895 WL-O VR-A Quinte Trenton

“Vera” in disguise; Avro Lancaster FM213 VR-A, one of only two airowrthy Lancastasers in the world is being flown in the temporary markings of Lancaster KB895 WL-O Lady Orchid. Lady Orchid was an aircraft that flew with No.434 Squadron RCAF during the war and has 35 operations to her credit.

B-25 Mitchell Royal Canadian Air Force RCAF Quinte airshow 2016

B-25 Mitchell sporting D-Day invasion stripes.


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American aircraft at the Helicopter Museum

A collection of the American manufactured aircraft on display at the Helicopter Museum in Weston-Super-Mare, UK.
History: The Helicopter Museum
Photos: Tony Wilkins


Bell UH-1H Iroquois, 66-16579, C/N. 8771.
Built 1967 in Hurst, Texas, as a 13-seat utility transport helicopter powered by one Lycoming T53-L-13 turboshaft engine. Total production of the UH-1 family since 1956 has exceeded 13,000 aircraft. Originally built in 1967 as a UH-1D it was immediately shipped to South East Asia in support of the Vietnam War effort. It was later upgraded to UH-1H standard and stationed in West Germany; in August 1990 it deployed to Saudi Arabia for the Gulf War. Donated to the Museum in 1992 and collected by road transport it arrived in August 1992. Re-assembly began almost immediately, although some missing components had to be found through various sources before the work could be completed.

Hughes OH-6A Cayuse, 67-16506.
Built 1968 in Culver City, California, USA this four-seat Army scout-utility helicopter is powered by a 317 shp Allison T63-A turboshaft and was delivered for operatiomns in Vietnam in 1968. It was shot down in 1970 but rebuilt for further service with the Army National Guard until retirement and subsequent acquisition by the Museum. The airframe was delivered to Weston-super-Mare at the end of September 1999.


Piasecki HUP-3 Retriever, RCN 622/51-16622,C/N. 51.
Following the success of the early Piasecki HRP naval helicopter, which on the 7th March 1945 was the first practical tandem rotor (fore & aft rotors) to fly, the Piasecki company began a smaller design and the first prototype flew in October 1948. The aircraft on display at the Museum, was one of the three HUP-3s to enter service with the Royal Canadian Navy for utility and search and rescue missions and built in 1954 in Morton, Pennsylvania, USA. With the help of The Helicopter Association International, the HUP-3 was donated to the Helicopter Museum, which had it restored in Philadelphia by volunteers at Boeing Helicopters. It was shipped to the UK in November 1991 and then transported by road to Weston-super-Mare by Museum volunteers. The aircraft is the only example of a Piasecki helicopter in the UK.

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.


Two Lancasters and a Vulcan

Three Historic Avro Aircraft, all designed by Roy Chadwick formate for the 1st, and probably last ever time. The formation of the only airworthy Vulcan and Lancaster Bombers pass over the opening of the building project for the Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial. Lest we Forget