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.

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Slovakian Air Force firefighters training in the UK

Six Slovakian Air Force firefighters have undergone training in the UK to learn vital skills needed to tackle major aircraft fires.

News Round-up – February 14th 2018

HMS Enterprise H88 Echo-class multi-role Hydrographic and Oceanographic Survey Vessel SVHO south georgia

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


General Defence News

UK missed 2% defence spending target, report claims
(Financial Times)

Ministry of Defence to let soldiers work part-time in bid to attract new recruits
(Express.co.uk)

Ministry of Defence has spent £100mn in abuse compensation from Iraq and Afghanistan
(The Sun)

NATO chief backs bigger alliance training mission in Iraq
(Reuters)

Nato’s stance and strategy in Europe
(AOL UK)

BAE proposes UK government financing to Malaysia for Typhoon jet deal
(Reuters)

Increase in US jets flying from RAF Lakenheath
(Norfolk Eastern Daily Press)


British Army News

British Troops Undertake ‘Incredibly Important’ Winter Exercise In Estonia
(Forces Network)

Senior Rhyl Army officer leading UK troops in Estonia ‘to counter intensifying aggression’ from Russia
(Daily Post North Wales)

British Army Chief visits Kohima
(United News of India)

Beaten soldier awarded £1 million damages against Ministry of Defence
(St Helens Star)

Mum’s agony over not being able to tell children what happened to their soldier dad as ‘Army refuse to reveal how he died’
(The Sun)

‘We’ll also find traces of the fighting from 1914 and 1917 including the remains of British and German soldiers” Belgian Trench Excavation
(Daily Mail)


Royal Air Force News

Royal Air Force says ‘We love Lossie’ ahead of massive expansion at base
(Press and Journal)

Red Arrows death: Ejection seat failure a ‘once every 115 years’ event
(BBC News)

RAF Typhoon to Get Unparalleled Armaments
(Aviation Today)

Dhadnah event marks 75th anniversary of WWII crash
(Gulf Today)


Royal Navy & Marines News

HMS Queen Elizabeth in maiden Rock call
(Gibraltar Chronicle)

Britain trying to ‘headline grab’ in South China Sea, says state media
(The Guardian)

Royal Navy ship ‘sails within METRES of Russian boat’ during show of force NATO mission
(Daily Star)

London City Airport reopens after World War II bomb removed by Royal Navy
(Independent.ie)

Fascinating pictures show Royal Marines in action aboard navy’s mighty warships during World War Two
(Daily Mail)

Hundreds of mourners salute Royal Navy doctor who saved hundreds of lives in the Falklands War
(Mirror.co.uk)


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.

 

News Round-up – January 30th 2018

 

HMS Forth 2018 P222 offshore patrol vessel boat opv

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


General Defence News

How the UK armed forces would look if you started from scratch
(The Guardian)

Your Fitness Tracking App May Have Revealed the Location of Secret Army Bases
(Futurism)

Gavin Williamson anger at Ministry of Defence for flying EU flags despite Brexit vote
(Express)

Russia mocks Gavin Williamson’s attack warning
(BBC News)

Two UK pilots fly F-35 jet following training
(Naval Technology)

Arms deal watchdog to get new teeth to stop defence companies profiteering
(Telegraph)

Ministry of Defence loses up to £4bn on property deal under which it rents 7000 empty homes 
(Telegraph)

More than £1 billion spent on armed forces recruitment
(Daily Mail)


British Army News

Soldier Who Died At Deepcut ‘Needed Constant Watching’
(Forces Network)

Op-Ed: Has the British army gone soft?
(SOFREP)

Ex-Army Head Calls For Better Mental Health Treatment
(Forces Network)

Withdrawal Of Troops From Germany Could Be Halted And “When Not If” For Major UK Cyber-Attack
(Forces Network)

Chester MP joins British troops on border with Russia
(The Chester Standard)

DUP split over ‘amnesty’ for security forces, says Beattie
(Belfast Telegraph)

Inside the British army training programme for Somali soldiers fighting one of the world’s most feared terrorist groups
(Telegraph)

Defence jobs plea over £3bn vehicle contract
(BBC News)


Royal Air Force News

RAF to scrap twin-seat Typhoons
(IHS Jane’s 360)

RAF eyes the skies in Shetland
(Shephard Media)

RAF reveals reason why Coningsby jet declared ’emergency’ mid-air over the North Sea
(Lincolnshire Live)

Investigation into missing Corrie McKeague has cost £2.1m
(Norfolk Eastern Daily Press)

‘Tail spotter’ hobbyists counted on by UK, US militaries to watch for suspicious behavior
(Stars and Stripes)

Canada sends three aircraft to RAF Fairford centenary show
(Swindon Advertiser)


Royal Navy & Marines News

Royal Navy accepts OPV
(Shephard Media)

Royal Navy Helps Out Islanders on Still-Devastated Anguilla
(The Maritime Executive)

Navy’s new £3.1bn aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth hit by flood after mystery sprinkler system sparks flood
(The Sun)

Wanted! A Site For Retired Nuclear Submarine Waste
(Forces Network)

HMS Raleigh offers training for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s new workboats
(Naval Technology)

Royal Navy gets new sonar training facility
(Shephard Media)

Royal Navy museum searching for designer for new exhibition
(Blooloop)

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.

News Round-up – January 22nd 2018

RAF Reaper drone UAV

An RAF Reaper Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV) (www.raf.mod.uk)

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


General Defence News

Armed Forces ‘team up for anti-terror super unit’ amid growing fears of imminent attack on UK
(The Sun)

How damaged is the ‘special relationship? An Interview With The US Ambassador To The UK
(Forces Network)

British fleet of F-35 jets to attain IOC this year
(Airforce Technology)

The Complex History Of The MoD’s Capita Recruitment Deal
(Forces Network)

What Does Carillion Do For Defence?
(Forces Network)

British longest serving Afghan military interpreter refused right to live in UK
(The Independent)

Britain can be a power in Asia
(The Interpreter)


British Army News

Army chief to call for investment to keep up with Russia
(BBC News)

Dynamic Security Threats and the British Army
(RUSI)

Pressure mounts on defence chiefs to improve mental healthcare for troops as top brass back Mail on Sunday campaign for Harry’s heroes
(Daily Mail)

British Army hopes criticism around campaign will help attract more diverse recruits
(Marketing Week)

All-female team of British soldiers become first women’s group to cross Antarctica using only muscle power
(The Independent)

Pride and sadness as Lynx bows out at RAF Shawbury
(Shropshire Star)


Royal Air Force News

Watch: Cockpit footage of RAF Typhoons intercepting Russian bombers on Monday
(SOFREP)

Ejector seat firm stands trial over death of Red Arrows pilot who was flung 300ft into the air
(Coventry Telegraph)

RAF bomb ISIS drone operators for the first time
(Express and Star)

MQ-9B demonstrates Launch and Recovery element ahead of RAF acquisition 
(Business Wire)

Lake District Zip Wire Plans Would “Impact Vital Military Training”
(Forces Network)

Goodbye iconic roundel: RAF’s famous logo abandoned in favour of new stealthy design
(Express)

Runner Takes on 100 Marathons To Honour 100 Years Of The RAF
(Forces Network)


Royal Navy & Marines

New submarine completes first dive ahead of move to Faslane
(Helensburgh Advertiser)

Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth begins preparations for rotary wing trials
(Naval Technology)

Royal Navy’s new £6.2billion aircraft carriers have left MoD financially exposed, MPs warn
(The Sun)

Royal Marines Base Chivenor closure is a done deal, says defence minister
(Devon Live)

Leaks about cuts are damaging morale in the Royal Navy (& Marines)
(Plymouth Herald)

Anger at Royal Navy museum’s ‘pro-nuclear’ exhibition
(The Guardian)

How hero Royal Navy doctor saved 1000 lives on both sides during the Falklands War
(Mirror)


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.

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.

 

Interview with Air Vice-Marshal Don ‘Pathfinder’ Bennett CB CBE DSO

In the fourth of the RAF Centre for Air Power Studies rarely-seen before historic ‘leadership’ themed videos, Air Vice-Marshal Don ‘Pathfinder’ Bennett CB CBE DSO is interviewed by Group Captain (later Air Vice-Marshal) Tony Mason CB CBE DL at the RAF Staff College, Bracknell, December 1980.

During the interview, Air Vice-Marshal Bennett discusses his experiences in the field of aerial navigation which eventually led to the formation of the legendary Pathfinder squadrons during WWII. Air Vice-Marshal Bennett transferred to the RAF from the Royal Australian Air Force in 1931 in order to broaden his flying experience. Although a gifted pilot in single-seat fighters, he had the ambition to fly large aircraft and subsequently transferred to Calshot to fly the Southampton, then the largest aircraft in the RAF.

During his time on the Flying Boats, he developed a passion for navigation, becoming an instructor before leaving the RAF to join Imperial Airways where he helped to develop many of the pioneering techniques that would later become commonplace. He re-joined the RAF in 1941, going on to command 77 Squadron, 10 Squadron and subsequently No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group. When he was promoted to Air Vice-Marshal in December 1943 he was the youngest person ever to hold the rank. He was considered by many to be ‘one of the most brilliant technical airmen of his generation: an outstanding pilot, a superb navigator who was also capable of stripping a wireless set or overhauling an engine’.

His book, The Complete Air Navigator: Covering the Syllabus for the Flight Navigator’s Licence, was considered by many to be the seminal text on the subject of aerial navigation when it was published in 1936. Viewers are asked to make allowance for the 1980s video quality as the subject matter is outstanding and adds significantly to the understanding of the history of the RAF.

Source – RAF YouTube site