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.



Restoration of a 1944 GMC – Crowdfunder Appeal

David Chambers and his father are looking for supporters of their project to restore this 1944 GMC 353 H1 tipper that he and his father have saved from the scrapheap. Based in South Wales, the father and son duo have saved and restored several US World War II vehicles in the past and displayed them at numerous events for enthusiasts and the public alike to experience these pieces of history first hand.

1944 GMC 353 H1 tipper

As well as helping restore the vehicle, there are benefits to donating a list of which can be found on the group’s crowdfunder page which you can link to below.


Just three of their collection.
I had the pleasure of viewing some of their impressive collection recently so I can I promise you they know what they are doing.

Do you have an event or charity you would like to promote on Defence of the Realm? If so then feel free to email the details to defencerealmyt@gmail.com. 


British Army Bayonet Training Manual, 1916

The following extracts are taken from a US-produced reproduction of the British Army’s Bayonet Training Manual revised in 1916 to take in to consideration the nature of the fighting on the Western Front of World War I. With the US declaring war on Germany and the other Central Powers on January 9th 1917, they looked to take advantage of the lessons the Allied powers had learned in the previous two and a half years and apply them to their own troops.

Source: Archive.org.

World War II battle re-enactment (with Sherman tank) at Fortress Wales 2016

Allied forces are pushing through Germany and a group of German Whermacht and the Volkssturm (Home Guard) get set to meet American and British soldiers supported by a Sherman tank.

Demonstration carried out at Fortress Wales 2016 held at Caldicot castle and includes the Sherman tank Lily Marlene

Rolling Thunder Vietnam War battle re enactment at Fortress Wales 2016

The members of the Rolling Thunder, a UK-based living history group dedicated to the US soldiers who served in Vietnam re-enact a battle that took place in 1968 between the 1st Air Cavalry Division and the Viet Cong.

Not “British” but a fascinating demonstration nonetheless.

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NEWS: US General now serving in British Army

Emphasizing the special relationship between British and American forces a US Army General has assumed the role of Deputy Commander, 3rd (UK) Division at Bulford Camp, Wiltshire. Addressing the men and women under his new command Brigadier General Michael J. Tarsa said;

This is a distinct honour and I couldn’t be more delighted to be stood here abrest with you. I wear my nation’s uniform as a member of the US Army, but I now have the privilege to be part of the British Army and 3rd United Kingdom Division. I hope to serve both with great distinction and I’m proud to be stood here in your ranks.

The 3rd (UK) Division has a rich heritage as the oldest fighting division in the British Army having earned the nickname The Iron Division in the trenches of the Western Front during the First World War. Among its battle honours are Waterloo and Normandy while today it commands more than 16,000 troops forming the British Army’s high-readiness ‘Reaction Force.’

This latest appointment is only the most recent example of just how intermixed and closely coupled British and American forces. In the past RAF pilots have been the only foreign pilots to fly the F-117 Nighthawk ‘stealth fighter’ while during operations over Iraq Tornado missions were flown entirely by US crews on exchange. The US Navy regularly send officers to take part in the Royal Navy Submarine Corps’ infamous ‘perisher’ command training course considered by many to be the most intensive submarine training course in the world.

NEWS: 5000 troops needed to defeat Islamic State

Islamic StateLord Dannatt, the former head of the British Army has voiced his opinion that air strikes alone have failed to stop the spread of Islamic State. In the wake of the terrorists making dramatic new gains in Syria and Iraq he outlined a plan he felt would achieve victory over the brutal terrorist organization. Number one on the plan is the deployment of up to 5000 British/American troops.

Lord Dannatt said;

We have now reached a point when we must think the previously unthinkable and consider that British troops, acting as part of an international coalition, may be required to mount a ground campaign in Iraq and Syria.

Lord Dannatt called for London and Washington to seriously consider putting troops on the ground working with Russia and China in achieving a resolution even if it means making concessions to Moscow such as allowing Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad political asylum in another country. Dannatt himself admits that the political challenges are great but given the threat posed by Islamic State they are justified.


The question I am putting to you is do you feel the situation has become such that it is now necessary to commit British (or international) ground forces to the fight against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq?

Please comment below.

– Tony