1690 Battle of Beachy Head. Anglo-Dutch fleet (thirty-four and twenty-two respectively) under Adm the Earl of Torrington (Sovereign) and Adm Cornelis Evertsen (Hollandia) fought Vice-Adm Comte de Tourville (Soleil-Royal), who had seventy-three ships and eighteen fireships.
Torrington was reluctant to attack until ordered to do so. The battle lasted from 09.00 to 17.00, the Dutch in the van and he in the centre. Torrington interdicted the French, who doubled on the van, but allowed them to drift away, for which he was court-martialled, though acquitted.
Battle of Beachy Head
Steel engraving by Jean Antoine Théodore de Gudin.
1696 Sir Christopher Wren and John Evelyn laid foundation stone of Greenwich Hospital ‘precisely at 5 o’clock in the evening. Mr. Flamsteed the King’s Astronomical Professor observing the precise time by instruments’.
Sir Christopher Wren in Godfrey Kneller’s 1711 portrait
Portrait of John Evelyn by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1687
1704 Captain John Quelch was an English pirate who had a lucrative but very brief career of about one year. His chief claim to historical significance is that he was the first person to be tried for piracy outside of England under Admiralty Law and thus without a jury. These Admiralty courts had been instituted to tackle the rise of piracy in colonial ports where civil and criminal courts had proved ineffective.
Pirate John Quelch‘s standard, the Flag of St George.
The Arraignment, Tryal, and Condemnation of John Quelch provides a transcript of what is perhaps Boston’s earliest trial for piracy.
“An account of the behaviour and last dying speeches of the six pirates, that were executed on Charles River, Boston side on Fryday June 30th 1704 . . . ,” broadside printed by Nicholas Boone, Boston, Massachusetts, 1704. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Broadsides and Printed Ephemera Collection.
On Friday, 30th June 1704, six men were hanged in Boston in what was the first trial for piracy by the British Admiralty Court outside of England. The Arraignment, Tryal, and Condemnation of John Quelch provides a transcript of what is perhaps Boston’s earliest trial for piracy. The court proceedings provide a detailed account of the events leading up to Quelch’s capture, as well as of the crimes committed Quelch and his crew.
John Quelch (and his mutinous pirate crew of the Charles) were marched on foot through Boston to Scarlet’s Wharf accompanied by a guard of musketeers, various officials, and two ministers, while in front was carried a silver oar, the emblem of the Lord High Admiral. Upon reaching the gallows, the minister gave the pirates a long and fervent sermon.
All of the pirates showed repentance on their faces except Captain Quelch. Before he was hanged, Quelch stepped up while holding his hat and bowed to the spectators. He also gave a short address and warned them, “They should take care how they brought money into New England to be hanged for it.”
In July of 1703, Governor Joseph Dudley granted a privateering license to Captain Daniel Plowman of the Charles and sent the ship to attack French and Spanish vessels near Newfoundland and Arcadia. However, while the ship was still in Massachusetts, Captain Plowman became extremely ill and was confined to his quarters by the rebellious crew. Plowman’s lieutenant, John Quelch, was chosen to be the new captain by the crew and the ship’s course was changed. Plowman was thrown overboard, whether dead or alive seems uncertain, and Quelch led the crew of theCharles on what would be nearly a year-long piracy spree against Portuguese ships in the Caribbean and off the coast of South America.
Between August of 1703 and February of 1704, Quelch and the crew of the Charles attacked and captured no fewer than nine Portuguese vessels off the coast of Brazil, stealing a wide variety of goods and valuables and committing a number of other crimes including murder. Precise dates are given for each of the nine attacks, as well as detailed descriptions of the crimes committed and the goods stolen. The various commodities stolen from the different ships include gold dust, sugar, molasses, rum, rice, textiles, pottery, and a large quantity of coined Portuguese money. Quantities are listed for the goods taken, and values also provided, offering insight into the monetary value of these goods around the turn of the eighteenth century. A value of thirty pounds is given for one of the ships, which had apparently been sunk by Quelch and his crew.
The court record also provides historical information on Africans enslaved both in British and Portuguese colonies during this period. A number of slaves of African descent are referred to in the records both as the property of the crew and as plunder from piratical raids. At least three slaves are referred to in a letter of John Colman, provided in the appendix to the court proceedings, to colonial authorities in the West Indies. Two of them, named Charles and Caesar, are mentioned by Colman as the property of a Colonel Hobbey. The third, named Mingo, is listed as belonging to Captain Plowman himself. Colman mentions the three men in a plea to the colonies of the West Indies to secure the goods on board the Charles and prevent them from being stolen by the mutinous crew. Colman asks for the return of the men “and their shares,” and it is unclear whether this means that Charles, Caesar, and Mingo had any actual share in the goods on the ship, or whether it means the shares of their respective owners.
At least two more enslaved men were captured by Quelch and his crew during several of their attacks on Portuguese ships. Joachim, a slave aboard a Portuguese brigantine taken by theCharles, was valued at twenty pounds. Joachim is described as baptized, possibly as a Catholic given his ownership by a Portuguese master, though this is not expressly stated. He is the only slave in the record described as baptized. Emmanuel, a slave valued by the court record at forty pounds, was the property of a Portuguese commander named Bastian whose ship was captured by Quelch and his crew near the River Plate (Rio de la Plata) in South America. Bastian was shot and killed during the attack, apparently by Christopher Scudamore the ship’s cooper, according to the testimony of Emmanuel. For a time Joachim and Emmanuel served the crew, but were both sold to crew members at some point during the voyage. Joachim was purchased by one George Norton, and Emmanuel was purchased by Benjamin Perkins, both for undisclosed amounts.
During the trial itself, three members of the crew, Matthew Pymer, John Clifford, and James Parrot, testified against Quelch in court and so avoided prosecution. The transcript also repeatedly states that the English and Portuguese crowns had recently become allies at the time of Quelch’s crimes, further exasperating the case against him. Among those presiding over the trial were Governor Joseph Dudley and Samuel Sewall, First Judge of the Massachusetts-Bay Province. John Quelch, John Lambert, Christopher Scudamore, John Miller, Erasmus Peterson, and Peter Roach were sentenced to hang. The execution was carried out “in Charles River; between Broughton’s Ware-house, and the Point.”
Joachim and Emmanuel were both called upon to testify against Quelch and certain members of his crew. Emmanuel specifically identified Christopher Scudamore as the murderer of his master Bastian, while both men testified that Quelch and his crew ordered them to claim that they had been Spanish slaves rather than Portuguese upon returning to Boston in order to cover up the crimes against Portuguese ships. Charles, Caesar, and Mingo were all charged with piracy along with the crew, though they were found not guilty. Charles and Caesar were presumably returned to their master, Colonel Hobbey, while the fate of Mingo is not recorded. The fates of Joachim and Emmanuel following the trial are not recorded either. It is interesting to note that though they were considered property, slaves were still called upon to testify in an important trial like free men.
Several important documents and letters are provided in the appendix, including Captain Plowman’s commission from Massachusetts Governor Joseph Dudley as well as his instructions. In the commission, Dudley explains to Plowman that he is “Hereby Authorizing you in and with the said Briganteen and Company to her belonging, to War, Fight, Take, Kill, Suppress and Destroy, any Pirates, Privateers, or other the Subjects and Vassals of France, or Spain, the Declared Enemies of the Crown of England, in what Place soever you shall happen to meet them.” Plowman is warned that “Swearing, Drunkenness and Prophaneness be avoided,” and that no one, even enemies of the British crown, “be in cold Blood killed, maimed, or by Torture or Cruelty inhumanly treated contrary to the Common Usage or Just Permission of War.” Also included are correspondence between Plowman and the Charles’ owners John Colman and William Clarke regarding Plowman’s illness and his growing mistrust of the crew.
Taking place during Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713), the crimes of John Quelch and the crew of the Charles should be viewed in the context of the affairs between the European colonial empires in the New World at the dawn of the eighteenth century. Licensed by Governor Dudley as a “private man-of-war,” the Charles was expressly instructed to attack the ships of “Her Majesty’s enemies,” namely France and Spain. Instead, the crew mutinied against their licensed captain and, to the chagrin of Governor Dudley and British colonial authorities, they attacked the ships of Britain’s ally Portugal. It is clear from the text that these crimes are taken very seriously not only as acts of piracy, but as an embarrassment to the crown.
1707 Rear-Adm Sir John Norris (Torbay) forced the passage of the Var, France.
John Norris by Godfrey Kneller in 1711
(c) National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
In 1803, under the command of Captain James Walker, Vanguard was operating out of Jamaica on the Blockade of Saint-Domingue. On 30 June, Cumberland and her squadron under Captain Henry William Bayntun were between Jean-Rabel and St. Nichola Mole in the West Indies, having just parted with a convoy when they spotted a sail of what appeared to be a large French warship. Cumberland and Vanguard approached her and after a few shots from Vanguard the French vessel surrendered, having suffered two men badly wounded, and being greatly outgunned. She proved to be the frigate Créole, of 44 guns, primarily 18-pounders, under the command of Citizen Le Ballard. She had been sailing from Cape François to Port au Prince with General Morgan (the second in command in San Domingo), his staff, and 530 soldiers, in addition to her crew of 150 men. The Royal Navy took her into service as HMS Creole.
While the British were taking possession of Créole, a small French navy schooner, under the command of a lieutenant and sailing the same course as Créole, sailed into the squadron; she too was seized. She had on board 100 bloodhounds from Cuba, which were “intended to accompany the Army serving against the Blacks.”
1808 HMS Capelin (1804) Schooner (6), Lt. Josias Bray, wrecked on sunken rock off entrance of Brest Harbor.
1814 USS Alligator (1813) schooner sank in Port Royal Sound during a heavy storm.
On 30 June, she captured the 16-gun brig Nautilus, under the command of Lieutenant Charles Boyce of the Bombay Marine of the East India Company in the Straits of Sunda, in the final naval action of the war. Boyce informed Warrington that the war had ended. Warrington suspected a ruse and ordered Boyce to surrender. When Boyce refused, Warrington opened fire, killing one seaman, two European invalids, and three lascars, wounding Boyce severely, as well as mortally wounding the first lieutenant, and also wounding five lascars. American casualties amounted to some four or five men wounded. When Boyce provided documents proving that the Treaty of Ghent ending the war had been ratified, Warrington released the prize, though at no point did he in any way inquire about the Boyce’s condition or that of any of the injured on Nautilus. Peacock returned to New York on 30 October. A court of inquiry in Boston a year later exonerated Warrington of all blame. In his report on the incident, Warrington reported that the British casualties had only been lascars.
1914 Adm Sir George John Scott Warrender, departing with a RN squadron from the Imperial German Navy regatta at Kiel, made to his hosts ‘Friends in the past, friends for ever’, which proved five weeks later to have been an unfortunate signal.
Vice-Admiral Sir George John Scott Warrender of Lochend, 7th Baronet, KCB, KCVO (31 July 1860 – 8 January 1917)
1915 Destroyer HMS Lightning (1895) sunk by mine off the Wielingen lightvessel, Zeebrugge.
1917 Destroyer HMS Cheerful (1897) sunk by mine 6 miles S.S.E. of Lerwick while on patrol off the Shetland Islands she struck a contact mine that had been laid by German submarine UC-33. She sank with the loss of 44 officers and men in position (
1940 First offensive operation mounted from Malta after Italy entered the war on 10 June: Swordfish of 830 NAS attacked oil refineries Augusta, Sicily.
1941 River gunboat HMS Cricket (1915) severely damaged by German dive-bomber north of Mersa Matruh. Towed to Alexandria and became a floating AA battery.
Submarine depot ship HMS Medway (1928)
Conning tower emblem U-372 (Coat of Arms of Viersen)
1944 Canso A/162 (RCAF) and Liberator E/86 sank U-478 in Norwegian Sea (63-27N, 00-50W).
1944 Fought immediately after the successful Allied landings from 6th June 1944, The Battle of Cherbourg ends with the surrender of the strategically valuable port to American forces. A few German troops cut off outside the harbour defences held out until 1st July.
The Germans had so thoroughly wrecked and mined Cherbourg that the port was not brought into limited use until the middle of August; although the first ships were able to use the harbour in late July.
Aerial photograph of Cherbourg, France, 1944.
1950 Carrier Triumph, cruisers Belfast and Jamaica, destroyers Cossack and Consort, and sloops Black Swan, Alacrity and Hart in first engagement in Korean waters.
1954 First adopted as the war flag on 15th May 1870 but falling into disuse at the end of WW2, the Japanese ‘Rising Sun’ flag with a red circle close to the middle (offset to the lanyard) and 16 red rays in a Siemens star formation was re-adopted on 30th June 1954, as the war flag and naval ensign of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
The JMSDF also employs the use of a masthead pennant. First adopted in 1914 and readopted in 1965, the masthead pennant contains a simplified version of the naval ensign at the hoist end, with the rest of the pennant colored white. The ratio of the pennant is between 1:40 and 1:90.
The flag is considered offensive in countries which were victims of Japanese aggression (specifically in China and the Koreas) where it is considered to be associated with Japanese militarism and imperialism.
1961 Closure of Royal Victoria Yard, Deptford. Opened in 1742 and responsible for storing and blending the Navy’s rum.
Royal Victoria Yard, Main Gate entrance c.1920.
A 1623 map of Deptford Strond with annotations by John Evelyn showing Sayes Court in the bottom left corner and Deptford Green as “The Common Greene” just above centre-left (click for larger version)
1964 Royal Naval Armament Depot, Mombasa, closed. AFO 147/64.
1966 Polaris School opened at Faslane.
1969 The RAF’s ‘V-force’ relinquish the ‘Quick Reaction Alert’ role and responsibility for Britain’s strategic nuclear deterrent passes to the Polaris missile submarines of the Royal Navy.
1969 HMS Bristol (D23), Type 82 destroyer, launched at Swan Hunter and Tyne Shipbuilders. Only one of planned four of class completed; intended as escorts to the cancelled CVA-01. The first RN ship to take the Ikara ASW missile to sea and the last three-funnelled British warship.
See 22 March 1993.
1986 The MV Kingsabbey crashes into Southend pier, creating a 70-foot gap which severs the new pier head from the rest of the pier, destroys the boathouse used by the lifeboat service and caused major structural damage due to the destruction of iron piles and supporting girders. It was reported that a man who was in the pier toilets at the time of the collision only just made it out before they tipped over the edge!
Damage to pier.
1988 HMS President, shore-based HQ of London Division RNR in St Katherine’s Dock, opened by Adm Sir John Woodward, C-in-C Naval Home Command.
1997 At 23:30 hrs (local time) the Hong Kong handover ceremony officially began with the Prince of Wales reading a farewell speech on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II. Moments before midnight the British national flag and Hong Kong colonial national flag were slowly lowered to the British national anthem, symbolising the end of British colonial rule in Hong Kong.
At midnght, British sovereignty of Hong Kong was officially transferred from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese national flag and new Hong Kong regional flag were simultaneously raised to the Chinese national anthem.
Prince of Wales and Mr Chris Patten, embarked in HM Yacht Britannia at 0022 1 July, completing British withdrawal. Ship sailed at 0045 and, with Royal Marine band playing Rule Britannia and , amplified by ship’s broadcast, she led Chatham, Peacock, Starling, Plover and RFA Sir Percivale out of harbour. Group rendezvoused with seventeen ships of Ocean Wave Task Group commanded by Rear-Adm Alan West, which had been standing by over the horizon. All ships steamed past Britannia on 1 July.
2003 Conspicuous Gallantry Cross: L Cpl Justin Thomas (24) of 40 Cdo RM for ‘his outstanding bravery and inspirational leadership’ during a Commando attack near Basra. Operation Telic.
The Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC) is a second level military decoration of the British Armed Forces.
During the attack Thomas’s troop came under effective and sustained fire from the enemy in a previously undetected location, which left many of his comrades exposed. Moving from a comparatively safe position, Thomas climbed onto his open-topped vehicle to man the pintle-mounted machine-gun and he returned fire for fifteen minutes, enabling twenty other members of his troop to move safely into cover and regroup. This act of selfless bravery ensured that the troop were able to extract themselves without loss of life from enemy fire in order to launch a successful counter-attack.
Operation Telic Campaign Medal for Service in Iraq. The medal is made of cupro-nickel and bears on the obverse the crowned image of the Queen. The reverse shows an ancient Assyrian Lamussu sculpture above the word Iraq. The 1.5 inches (38 mm) wide ribbon is a sand colour with three central stripes of black, white and red.
See 7 February 1995, 30 April 2003.
2009 MV Demas Victory, a Dubai-based supply ship servicing offshore oil and gas platforms, sank in rough seas, 10 nautical miles off the coast of the Qatari capital city of Doha at around 06:30 hrs (local time).
The captain had put in a request to re-enter Doha Port, however, officials advised that the ship remain at anchor due to the conditions. The ship capsized three minutes later after it was hit by a huge wave.
At the time of its sinking, the MV Demas Victory was carrying 9 crew and 26 others, with most of them asleep in their cabins. Only five people were rescued (they were on deck or in the wheelhouse at the time of the accident) and six bodies recovered.
Offshore supply vessel MV Demas Victory (now Etihad) in 2007.