Unrestricted Submarine Warfare, 1917 – 1918

 

The day is coming! Unterseeboot before London. Lithograph print.
Unrestricted Submarine Warfare, 1917 – 1918

Introduction

As Marc Milner recently explained in the context of the Second World War, ‘the first line of defense of trade was always the main battle fleet.’[i] What was true in 1939 was true in 1914. Germany’s High Sea Fleet, able to sortie from its protected anchorages only at significant risk, was reduced to relying on its destroyers, submarines, merchant raiders and naval air service to carry on the naval offensive. Britain’s Grand Fleet, although successful at confining the High Sea Fleet to the North Sea, was in turn unable to protect Britain’s far-flung merchant shipping. The two dreadnought fleets of the great naval antagonists were thus mutually immobilized. Flotilla craft, seaplanes and submarines became the primary instruments in the vast battle over oceanic trade. As British Prime Minister David Lloyd George prosaically described the situation, ‘When the last roving German cruiser had been beached in a mangrove swamp in Africa, in order to escape capture, the German Admiralty put more faith in the little swordfish which had already destroyed more enemy ships in a month than the cruiser had succeeded in sinking during the whole of their glorious but short-lived career. When they realized the power of this invention they set about building submarines on a great scale and constructing much larger types.’[ii]

While the Grand Fleet’s 10th Cruiser Squadron carried out the blockade of Germany, slowly strangling the Central Powers’ access to overseas trade, Germany’s U-boats, seaplanes and destroyers from the High Sea Fleet (HSF) and Flanders Flotillas attempted to circumscribe the blockade and attack Britain’s oceanic supply lines. The U-boats, like the Zeppelins and Gothas in the air, were new technological threats against which Britain’s traditional wooden walls provided no protection. To produce strategic effect with the aerial bomber and submarine, however, it was necessary to violate the laws of civilized warfare as they had been agreed upon by the European powers at the Hague conferences of 1899 and 1907.[iii] For the Zeppelins and Gothas this meant bombing British cities from the air without regard for civilian casualties, and for the U-boats at sea this meant violating the rules for prize capture and indiscriminately sinking enemy and neutral merchant shipping without warning.

The new Admiralty building, from N. A. M. Rodger, The Admiralty (1979)

After a trepidatious start in February 1915, when the ‘War Zone’ was established around Britain, by the spring of 1917 the U-boats were well on their way to wiping out Britain’s merchant fleet. During the months of March, April, May, June, July, and August, British shipping losses were always above 350,000 tons, with losses peaking at 550,000 tons in April, and 498,500 tons in June.[iv] The Admiralty, under the leadership of First Sea Lord Sir John Jellicoe and First Lord Edward Carson, had computed the loss rate and expected that, if no solution were found to the submarine crisis, Britain would soon be reduced by starvation and thus forced to abandon the war long before the yearend of 1918.[v]

London, c. early 20th century, by William Wyllie

The Royal Navy undertook a herculean effort to reduce shipping losses and increase Anti-Submarine (A/S) capabilities. Steadily improved counter-measures, reorganization at the Admiralty and in particular of the Naval Staff, and the gradual implementation of escorted convoys during the summer of 1917, began to alleviate the crisis. Although shipping losses remained high, frequently above 200,000 tons per month until the end of the war, this loss rate was not enough to cripple Britain’s supply lines. Furthermore, U-boats were now forced to attack defended convoys, raising the risk of counter-attack and eventually resulting in the development of wolf pack tactics, as were seen a quarter century later during the Second World War.[vi]

441px-the_eye_at_the_periscope_hm_submarine_art.iwmart923

The Eye at the Periscope aboard a Royal Navy submarine, Francis Dodd collection

Although the implementation of escorted convoys curtailed shipping losses, and forced the otherwise ephemeral U-boats to attack prepared warships, the inability of the Royal Navy to attack and destroy the High Sea Fleet meant that any operation aimed at capturing or destroying the U-boat bases themselves, or attempts to mine the U-boat areas of operations, could potentially prompt a fleet action in the enemy’s thoroughly mined waters: raising the prospect of catastrophic losses for the Royal Navy.

Later in 1918 the famous ZO operation was conducted in an attempt to block the bases at Zeebrugge and Ostend, while a redoubled aerial bombing campaign was additionally carried out. Finally, in October 1918, with the One Hundred Days offensive systematically rolling back the German army and liberating Belgian,[vii] the Royal Navy commissioned HMS Argus, an aircraft carrier system that included the Sopwith T1 ‘cuckoo’ capable or launching aerial torpedoes and thus opening the prospect for a torpedo strike against the High Sea Fleet in harbour – guaranteeing the defeat of Germany’s main fleet. And without the main fleet to protect the bases, the U-boats, minesweepers and flotilla destroyers carrying out the anti-shipping war would quickly find operations extremely difficult under the guns of Grand Fleet warships.

smoking-roomThe Smoking Room, HMS Ambrose, Francis Dodd collection

This blog examines the multidomain nature of the unrestricted U-boat campaign of 1917 – 1918, and demonstrates the unpreparedness of the Royal Navy to combat the submarine threat, but also the extensive reforms undertaken that eventually defeated the U-boats. By November 1918 the Royal Navy had devised a comprehensive and effective A/S and trade defence system, to which Germany’s raiders could not respond with any hope of success.

Various British warships sunk by U-boats and mines, 1914 – 1915, three armoured cruisers, three pre-dreadnought battleships, two light cruisers and HMS Audacious a 28,000 ton super dreadnought, completed in 1913, which struck a mine.

For both the Royal Navy and the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine), the First World War began with a flurry of surface and submarine activity. After the demise of Admiral von Spee at the Battle of the Falkland Islands, Admiral Souchen’s arrival in Istanbul, and the Heligoland Bight and Dogger Bank engagements of August 1914 and January 1915, the surface threat, beyond a few isolated light cruisers and merchant raiders, had been broadly curtailed.[viii]

Germany’s U-boats, for their part, destroyed a series of high-profile targets early in the war, from the seaplane carrier HMS Hermes, to the scout cruiser HMS Pathfinder, and the three armoured cruisers: HMS Crecy, Hogue and Aboukir. The new dreadnought HMS Audacious was lost to a mine on 27 October 1914, and the pre-dreadnought battleship HMS Formidable was torpedoed by U24 on New Years Day 1915. To add insult to injury, HMS Majestic and Triumph were both torpedoed at the Dardanelles by U21 during the May crisis of 1915.

The submarine and mine threat had a significant impact on Britain’s strategic position. The Grand Fleet required not only a protected and submarine-proof anchorage from which to operate, but also a large force of destroyers to escort it while at sea. The submarine’s emergent role as a commerce destroyer caught the Allies off guard. The decision in January 1915 by the Kaiser to authorize the designation of a ‘War Zone’ around Britain, in which British merchant shipping would be destroyed as part of a counter-blockade strategy, seemed a barbaric example of German ‘frightfulness’.

Although shipping losses increased, Germany’s U-boats were not yet plentiful enough to seriously impact the war, and the embarrassing sinking of the liners Lusitania in May and Arabic in August 1915, both with loss of life for American and other neutral citizens, encouraged the Kaiser to restrain the anti-shipping war. The new doctrine of surface battle, promulgated by Admiral Reinhardt Scheer, necessitated the withdrawal of the U-boats during 1916 to combine with the Navy’s Zeppelins for fleet operations. The singular result of the Battle of Jutland on 31 May, followed by the aborted August sortie, convinced Scheer that the British blockade could not be cracked by the High Sea Fleet.[ix] The new German war leadership under Ludendorff and Hindenburg, as such, made the decision late in 1916 to gamble on the U-boats sinking enough British, Allied and neutral tonnage to cripple Britain’s war effort and thus tip the war in Germany’s favour.

Various Francis Dodd drawings from 1918, done from Royal Navy submarines, trawlers, launches and merchant ships. The machine world successor to its wooden counterpart a century before.

On the Western Front, meanwhile, the Allied offensive in France was to be renewed under Generalissimo Joffre’s replacement, General Neville. This was to be an offensive the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) would support at Arras, and included the plan to capture Vimy Ridge.[x] The Allies, to supply this offensive, required huge quantities of material. The cross-Channel coal trade in particular was crucial for fuelling the French war effort: 800 coal transports crossed the English Channel in November 1916 alone.[xi] Other seaborne trade, such as food, shells, and especially fodder for the BEF’s horses, likewise required transshipment across the Channel by merchant ships. Critical supplies of metal and ore were delivered across the North Sea from Scandinavia, goods and commodities were imported across the Atlantic from America and out of the Mediterranean through the Gibraltar Straits. This cornucopia of merchant shipping was exposed, defenceless, and ready-made prey for the unleashed U-boats.

Merchant shipping tonnage sinking by submarines and other means June 1916 to October 1918, from Duncan Redford and Philip Gove, The Royal Navy, A History Since 1900 (2014)

U-boat Offensive, January – March 1917

From the perspective of the German high command the clear weakness in the Western Allied armies was their exposed seaborne logistics. High Seas Fleet C-in-C Admiral Reinhard Scheer, in his 4 July 1916 report on the Jutland battle to the Kaiser, stated his belief that the only way to defeat Britain would be through economic means, meaning “setting the U-boats against the British trade routes.”[xii]

scheer

Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer, Commander-in-Chief of the High Sea Fleet & Admiral Henning von Holtzendorff, Chief of the Admiralty Staff (Admiralstab), photograph by Hanse Hermann, Leipzig, 1918

On 22 December Admiral Holtzendorff accepted this view and advocated, in a fateful paper, for the destruction of all shipping approaching Britain.[xiii] Holtzendorff was convinced that if 600,000 tons of merchant shipping could be sunk each month, and sustained for a period of five months, the British would give in.[xiv] The renewed unrestricted submarine campaign commenced at the Kaiser’s order on 1 February 1917.[xv]

Commodore Andreas Michelsen, author of the book Submarine Warfare, 1914-1918, CO North Sea U-boats, Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote, June 1917 – November 1918. He replaced Fregattenkapitan Hermann Bauer.

Early in 1917 there were 111 U-boats available, 49 with the HSF at Wilhelmshaven, 33 at Zeebrugge and Ostend, with another 24 at Pola in the Mediterranean, two at Constantinople and three in the Baltic.[xvi] The Flanders Flotilla (coastal) U-boats alone had managed to sink enough shipping to reduce the cross-Channel coal trade by 39% during the final quarter of 1916.[xvii] This was enough of a threat to the French armaments industry that the Royal Navy’s Auxiliary Patrol, on 10 January 1917, commenced escorting large convoys of 45 ships across the Channel, 800 ships every month.[xviii]

April 1917: the catastrophic increase in Atlantic shipping losses, combined with a spike in Mediterranean losses, seemed to defy all of the Admiralty’s efforts. The potential for disaster seemed overwhelming. By this point, the French coal trade was being escorted across the English Channel, and the Dover barrage was being rebuilt with more effective mines. Despite this, nearly 100,000 tons of shipping had been lost in the Channel by the end of April. From Newbolt, Naval Operations, vol. IV, p. 382-3

With the restrictions on neutral shipping lifted, the U-boats began the slaughter. 35 merchant ships were sunk in the Channel and Western approaches the first week of February 1917 alone.[xix] By the end of February the U-boats had accounted for half a million tons, making more than a million cumulative when another 560,000 tons were sunk in March. The campaign high point was reached in April when 860,000 tons of Allied, British and neutral ships were destroyed.

These figures represented the destruction of 1,118 Allied and neutrals in the first four months of 1917: 181 in January, 259 in February, 325 in March and 423 in April.[xx] Between 1 February and the end of April 1917, 781 British merchant ships had been attacked, another 374 torpedoed and sunk, plus 154 sunk specifically by U-boat cannons.[xxi] The United Kingdom exported 122,600,000 tons of goods in January, a value that fell to  93,200,000 in February.[xxii] Only nine U-boats, including accidents, were destroyed between February and April.[xxiii]

The Imperial War Cabinet, Jellicoe is standing at the back, second from left. First Lord of the Admiralty Edward Carson is third.

In Britain the new parliamentary coalition under former Munitions and then War Minister and now Prime Minister David Lloyd George was faced with an unprecedented crisis. In early December 1916 Admiral Sir John Jellicoe had been promoted out of the Grand Fleet and advanced to First Sea Lord (1SL), with the explicit objective of curtailing the submarine threat.[xxiv] There were many ideas about what to do, and it was not initially clear what the correct response was, and opinion in the Royal Navy was split. Captain Herbert Richmond believed convoy escort to be the obvious solution,[xxv] a subject he had studied in his historical work with Julian Corbett on 18th century naval warfare (published after the war as The Navy In The War of 1739-48).[xxvi] Both historians noted the importance of trade interdiction and convoy protection efforts in the Caribbean, and Corbett added the Korean peninsula experience in his staff history of the Russo-Japanese War.[xxvii]

Old Waterloo Bridge from South Bank by William Wyllie

Traditionally, Britain had indeed managed the threat from corsairs and privateers by convoying its merchant shipping. On 29 December Jellicoe, however, expressed his skepticism that convoy was the appropriate solution to the U-boat problem. The First Sea Lord’s position, in general, was that the historical analogy of convoy protection was no longer valid, given the vast increase in oceanic shipping, the supposed delays in loading, offloading, and assembling the convoys, coupled with limitations on available escorts.[xxviii] The reality was that the First Sea Lord perceived convoys as sitting targets, and was unable to transcend the tactical paradigm whereby the escorted convoy not only “reduced the number of targets” and thus increased the number of successful sailings, but also forced the U-boats to carry out attacks from positions where they would be exposed to destroyer counterattack.[xxix]

Furthermore, the figures the Admiralty estimated would be required for Atlantic merchant convoy escort were excessively high: 81 escorts for the homeward-bound Atlantic trade, and another 44 for the outward-bound trade.[xxx] Since the requirements of the western approaches had been minimized to increase destroyer numbers at Dover, Harwich, Rosyth and Scapa Flow, Jellicoe foresaw a situation in which the battle fleet’s escorts would be precariously reduced to endlessly feed requirement for merchant shipping escorts, as did in fact occur during Admiral Sir David Beatty’s second year as Grand Fleet C-in-C.

Jellicoe4

Photograph of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe as C-in-C Grand Fleet

When Jellicoe arrived, and until the April crisis, Britain’s trade defence policy was one of patrolling a series of shipping lanes, combined with aerial patrols over the coasts.[xxxi] The Admiralty had adopted an ‘approach route’ system, by which, rather than using its anti-submarine vessels as convoy escorts (convoys being believed to be large, slow moving, targets), the A/S vessels would patrol various approach ‘cones’ of which there were four, hoping to sweep them clean of enemy submarines.

Approach A: Apex at Falmouth, shipping from South Atlantic and Mediterranean, destined for London, English Channel, and East Coast Ports.

Approach B: Apex at Berehaven, shipping from North and South Atlantic, destined for Bristol Channel, London and English Channel and Mersey.

Approach C: Apex at Inishtrahull, shipping from North Atlantic for Clyde, Belfast, Irish Sea and Liverpool.

Approach D: Apex at Kirkwall, shipping from North Atlantic for North-East ports to the Humber.[xxxii]

The Admiralty’s initial Western Approaches ‘zone’ scheme, as established at the beginning of 1917, and the corresponding locations of sunk merchant ships. The unescorted approach lanes were ideal prey for the patient U-boat commander.

In practice this system proved disastrous, effectively funnelling in and outbound shipping into dangerously crowded and exposed lanes. Although the actual lane utilized was random, the need for a great number of destroyers to patrol the approach area still made U-boat contact unlikely and trade defence precarious. The approach-lane program, as Henry Jones put it, had the effect of ‘concentrating great numbers of ships along the patrol routes off the south coast of Ireland and in the Bristol Channel.’[xxxiii]

The Western approaches were at first starved for resources: only 14 destroyers stationed at Devonport for use ‘escorting troopships and vessels carrying specially valuable cargoes through the submarine danger zone,’[xxxiv] in addition to 12 sloops at Queenstown.[xxxv] Jellicoe transferred an additional ten destroyers from Admiral Beatty to the Senior Naval Officer (SNO) Devonport, at least partly with the intention of increasing the number of escorts available for providing escort to troop or munitions ships.[xxxvi]  Aircraft and airship bases had not yet been constructed to cover these approaches,[xxxvii] and the Dover Barrage, meant to prevent the Flanders U-boat flotillas from crossing the Channel, proved totally ineffective. Worse, there were only enough depth-charges to equip four per destroyer at the beginning of 1917, and as late as July, only 140 charges were being produced each month. By the end of 1917 this number had increased to 800, sufficient to equip destroyers with 30 to 40 charges.[xxxviii]

Although Jellicoe implemented strong reforms meant to improve all areas of the A/S patrols, from increased depth-charge production, to building new RNAS bases on the coast; the crisis continued to worsen. Shipping losses increased in March and by early April 1917 had reached an apex. The officers responsible for the particularly exposed Scandinavian sea route met at Longshope, in the Orkneys, on 3 April and determined in favour of implementing convoys to protect North Sea sailings.

Motor Launch in the Slipway at Lowestoft, Francis Dodd, April 1918

As we have seen, convoys – or protected sailings – had already been implemented to cover the Channel crossing, and they were far from a novel concept. The War Cabinet secretary, Colonel Maurice Hankey, had in fact prepared a paper for David Lloyd George on the subject of ASW on 11 February 1917.[xxxix] This paper outlined the flaws in the current patrol system and unequivocally advocated the adoption of convoy and escort as the correct solution. Hankey’s observations regarding the benefits of convoys were particularly cogent:

The adoption of the convoy system would appear to offer great opportunities for mutual support by the merchant vessels themselves, apart from the defence provided by their escorts. Instead of meeting one small gun on board one ship the enemy might be under from from, say, ten guns, distributed among twenty ships. Each merchant ship might have depth charges, and explosive charges in addition might be towed between pairs of ships, to be exploded electrically. One or two ships with paravanes might save a line of a dozen ships from the mine danger. Special salvage ships… might accompany the convoy to salve those ships were mined of torpedoed without sinking immediately, and in any event save the crews. Perhaps the best commentary on the convoy [escort] system is that it is invariably adopted by our main fleet, and for our transports.[xl]

Two days later, at an early morning 10 Downing Street meeting, Lloyd George, Carson, Jellicoe and the Director of the Anti-Submarine Division (DASD) of the Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Alexander Duff, spent several hours during breakfast discussing Hankey’s convoy paper. Jellicoe objected on the grounds that the lightly escorted convoys would make vulnerable targets and that merchant captains would not be capable of the complex station keeping required, or indeed zig-zag maneuvering, objections that did not convince Lloyd George, as Hankey described in his diary.[xli]

“The Pool” view of River Thames, by William Wyllie

The following week Jellicoe prepared a War Cabinet paper describing the progress of A/S measures so far taken by the Admiralty.[xlii] Jellicoe’s primary recommendation was merely to reduce the total maritime traffic, notably by abandoning supply for the Salonika front. This was a dismal situation, as Jellicoe put it, ‘the Admiralty can hold out little hope that there will be any reduction in the rate of loss until the number of patrol vessels is largely increased or unless new methods which have been and are in process of being adopted result in the destruction of enemy submarines at a greater rate than that which they are being constructed…’. At this time, Jellicoe illustrated mechanical thinking in his belief that an additional 60 destroyers, 60 sloops, and 240 trawlers would be needed for a patrol scheme of ultimately unspecified final scale, citing the case of the English Channel where auxiliary patrol vessels formed a complete lane through which traffic passed. His third recommendation was the destruction of the submarine bases themselves.[xliii]

1917admiraltyboard2.5-1

The expansion of A/S measures was above all else the priority for Jellicoe as soon as the new Admiralty administration was settled. The new First Sea Lord immediately set about re-organizing the staff and mobilizing naval logistics to supply new bases, improve torpedoes and mines, and create a host of flotilla and auxiliary craft for A/S purposes. DASD Rear Admiral Duff soon recognized the need for aerial patrol over the western approaches. In December 1916 Duff had requested that Director Air Services Rear Admiral Vaughan Lee implement a patrol schemes at Falmouth, the Scillies, Queenstown, Milford Haven, Salcombe, and Berehaven, to cover the exposed approach lanes.[xliv] In February three H12 flying boats were flown out to the Scillies to patrol the Plymouth approach.[xlv]

The U-boats were not alone in their exertion during February. The Kaiserliche Marine’s Zeebrugge force conducted raids against the Dover straits as the U-boats worked up towards maximum effort. The destroyer situation in the Royal Navy at this time was scattered: there were nominally 99 destroyers available with the Grand Fleet, 28 deployed with the Harwich Force, 37 with the Dover Patrol, 11 attached to the Rosyth, Scapa, Cromarty area, 24 at the Humber and Tyne, 8 at the Nore, 32 at Portsmouth, 44 at Devonport and 8 at Queenstown, although this includes ships refitting or being repaired, and not therefore the true operational strength.[xlvi] This great dispersion of force meant it was possible for Germany’s high-speed torpedo boat destroyers to sortie and conduct night raids with good chances of success.

Map showing the simplified Channel Barrage, the main Folkestone – Gris Nez line and the outer Channel explosive mine net at the end of 1917, Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea (2017)

To test the Channel defences, Admiral Scheer, early on 25 February, ordered the Zeebrugge destroyers to conduct a raid on the Dover coast with three groups, the first comprised of six boats of the First Half-Flotilla (G95, G96, V67, V68 and V47, Lieutenant Commander Albrecht in G95), the second comprised of four boats of the Sixth Flotilla (Lieutenant Commander Tillessen in S49, with V46, V45, G37, V44 and G86), plus a small diversion force of three boats from the Second Half-Flotilla.[xlvii] Albrecht was to target the Downs while Tillessen attacked the Barrage itself. HMS Laverock, a destroyer armed with three 4-inch guns under the command of Lieutenant Henry Binmore, encountered one of the approaching flotillas around 10:30 pm on the 25th.[xlviii]

SMS V43, 1913-class torpedo boat destroyer & Representations of Zeebrugge flotilla destroyers, V67 & G37

After a brief encounter the two sides slipped into the darkness, contact was lost and Tillessen turned back to base. The diversion force found no targets near the Maas, while the First Half-Flotilla carried out a brief shore bombardment of North Foreland and Margate, with no military consequence. Admiral von Schroder, in command of the naval and marine forces in Flanders, considered the operation a success in so far as it was a worthwhile distraction, drawing RN assets away from submarine hunting.[xlix]

paragon

HMS Paragon

A second raid on the Dover defences was organized for the night of March 17-18, during which 16 Flanders destroyers sortied under Tillessen’s command. On this occasion, the Dover destroyer HMS Paragon was torpedoed and sank, with the loss of 75 members of the crew, by boats from Germany’s Sixth Flotilla.[l] HMS Llewellyn was badly damaged by a torpedo attack when it came to assist the sinking Paragon.[li] The Second Half-Flotilla, for its part, sank the anchored merchant ship Greypoint and damaged a drifter near Ramsgate, which they also shelled without effect. Another raid on 24 March, this time against Dunkirk, destroyed a another pair of merchant ships.[lii] While these surface raids kept pressure on the Dover Strait defences, the shipping crisis itself was spiralling out of control.

U-boat Crisis, April – June 1917

On Saturday 24 March 1917, the London Times reported on Mr. J. M. Henderson’s parliamentary speech. On Friday the MP from Aberdeenshire stated that, due to the hardships suffered by the poor during the harsh winter of 1916, it would be necessary that ‘the Government should issue regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act directing the local authorities throughout the country to establish depots for the sale and delivery of coal, sugar, and other necessaries.’[liii] The creeping realization amongst the commons that the supply situation was deteriorating was not lost on the Lloyd George government. Indeed, the War Cabinet had already recognized, notably in a series of meetings during the second half of February, that food stockpiling and public rationing were both imperative and imminent.[liv]

Loading torpedoes aboard a coastal U-boat (UB-type), maintained at the Bruges base, 1917

By 21 March the situation was so serious that Arthur Balfour, then the Foreign Secretary, had been forced to convey to the Netherlands that the UK was likely going to begin requisitioning their shipping.[lv] On 2 April the War Cabinet considered the situation ‘most serious’.[lvi] The desperate nature of the shipping losses, and the inability of the Admiralty to resolve the crisis, can be seen in the War Cabinet’s consideration that smaller merchant ships should be built, thus compelling ‘the enemy to expend as many torpedoes as possible in his submarine campaign.’ It was also considered at the 2 April meeting that compulsory mercantile service may be required due to the potential collapse of crew morale.[lvii] All this chaos was being caused by roughly 50 U-boats, an unsustainably high figure that dropped to 40 in May as a result of the exhausting operational tempo the preceding month.[lviii]

Jellicoe, as First Sea Lord, could imagine only material solutions: strengthening merchant ships with bulkheads, or building enormous 50,000 ton ‘unsinkable’ ships for transporting wheat – further indications of the desperate situation.[lix] Indeed, some of the measures recommended to reduce losses were so desperate that had they been implemented the result would have ultimately had a negative impact on the anti-submarine war, such as the War Cabinet suggestion that the Admiralty reduce construction of airship sheds to save steel (airships proved to be ideal platforms for escorting convoys).[lx]

UB III type costal submarine, 500 tons displacement, crewed by three officers and 31 men, armed with four bow and one stern firing torpedoes, plus a single 8.8 or 10.5 cm gun

 

By 4 April figures provided by Sir Leo Chiozza Money, the Shipping Controller, indicated that by February 1918 merchant shipping tonnage would increase by 850,000 tons from building in Britain, plus 312,000 tons abroad, to which could be added the 720,000 tons of German shipping then seized in American ports. At this time it was believed that this new construction, combined with other efficiencies, would be enough to see the United Kingdom through only until the end of the year.[lxi]

On 1 January 1917 the British Empire possessed 16,788,000 tons (gross) of shipping. By 1 May this figure had fallen to 15,467,000 tons, despite new construction.[lxii] At the height of the crisis in April it was expected that the total would likely fall to around 12,862,000 by the end of the year, in other words, that 3.9 million tons would be erased during 1917. In fact, a staggering 9,964,500 tons were destroyed, globally, during the year, of which 3,729,000 had been British, almost matching the Admiralty estimate in April 1917.

Merchant shipping losses, British and World, to all causes. Gibson and Prendergast, German Submarine War., Appendix III, section O, p. 381-2

The British Army needed to import 428,000 tons a month. The Ministry of Munitions imported another 1,400,000 tons monthly. For comparison, Britain imported one million tons of cotton, 70,000 tons of tobacco and 400,000 tons of fertilizers on a monthly basis. It was believed that a minimum of 553,000 tons of goods were required every month to sustain the civilian population.[lxiii] According to Jellicoe’s calculations, 8,050,000 tons of shipping were required for the Navy and Army, and on 1 January 1917 there were 8,394,000 tons available for vital imports. By 31 December 1917 the latter figure would therefore have been reduced to 4,812,000 tons, or a loss of 2.78 million tons of civilian imports per month.[lxiv]

The degree of the crisis is told by these statistics, implying a monthly loss rate of between 300,000 and 500,000 tons for the remainder of 1917. The final, and potentially decisive, result was that civilian imports would fall from three million tons in January to 1.6 million tons by the end of the year. Certainly strong economy would be necessitated, in addition to rationing that if continued unchecked would result in the extinguishing of non-military trade by the summer of 1918.[lxv]

Top scoring U-boat ‘aces’ based on proven tonnage destroyed, from Michelsen, Submarine Warfare, p. 218

While the debate carried on at the Admiralty and in the War Cabinet, the district commanders and SNOs were beginning, on their own accord, to form proto-regional commands and implement convoys. As we have seen, the Scandinavian mineral trade and the Channel food and coal trade. had both been placed under convoy with good results.

Some relief occurred on 3 April when the United States joined the war, a momentous event that was welcomed by the War Cabinet three days later. Diplomatic efforts were crucial if the American and Allied war efforts were to be united for maximum impact. Balfour therefore traveled to the United States aboard RMS Olympic while Rear Admiral William Sims, USN, crossed over to Britain in exchange.[lxvi] When Sims, who had traveled across the Atlantic in civilian disguise – in fact, aboard a merchant ship that struck a mine during the voyage – arrived in London and met with Jellicoe, the message Jellicoe had to convey, as Prendergast and Gibson put it, was dire: ‘the German submarines were winning the war.’[lxvii] On Monday, 9 April, Jellicoe reported to the War Cabinet that Admiral Sims would make the utmost efforts to mobilize American support for the anti-submarine campaign.[lxviii]

US Ninth Battleship Division, showing USS New York & USS Texas off Rosyth by William Wyllie.

Close coordination with the Americans brought immediate returns as it would now be possible for American imports to Britain to be carried in American merchant ships, freeing British vessels for other duties.[lxix] Auxiliary ships in the form of the 10th Cruiser Squadron (25 armed merchant cruisers and 18 armed trawlers), that patrolled the Shetlands and Faeroes line intercepting American contraband, was no longer required and its ships were redirected to more fruitful purposes until the squadron itself was abolished on 29 November 1917, shortly prior to the arrival in European waters of the United States Navy’s Battleship Division Nine under Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman.[lxx]

Francis Dodd artwork from 1918 showing RN submarine L2 engaging aircraft with its deck cannon.

As part of Jellicoe’s material strategy, Royal Navy aircraft were expanded alongside A/S flotilla craft. Flying boats stationed at Yarmouth and Felixstowe were equipped to locate and attack submarines, making possible large-scale A/S patrols supported by surface vessels. As the patrol system evolved the U-boats adjusted their tactics.

By March 1917 Jellicoe could inform Beatty that the Staff believed between 11 and 21 U-boats had been destroyed so far that year.[lxxi] Three German torpedo boat flotillas, between 30 and 40 destroyers were deployed to support U-boat operations.[lxxii] German seaplanes were engaged in a significant battle with the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) for control of the North Sea, as well as carrying out anti-shipping missions, occasionally with success. April was a particularly busy month for the east coast air stations, the Felixstowe H12 flying boats being assigned to conduct ‘spider web’ patrols off the Kentish coast.

H-12 type Felixstowe flying boats on patrol, from Theodore Douglas Hallam, The Spider Web (2009) & ‘Spider Web’ style octagonal patrol areas for NAS Felixstowe.

In fact, the situation at Dover, since the raids in February and March, had resolved into an intense destroyer and seaplane conflict in its own right. The War Cabinet was informed on 26 March that 30 German destroyers had been massed at Zeebrugge.[lxxiii] Another destroyer raid was shortly organized, taking place on 20 April. The Fifth Half-Flotilla (V71, V73, V81, S53, G85 and G42) under Korvettenkapitan Gautier was to conduct an attack against Dover, while boats from the Sixth and First Half-Flotilla (Commander Albrecht in V47, with G95, V68, G96, G91 and V70) raided Calais.[lxxiv] Although in the event little damage was caused, the raid alerted Dover forces which sortied to intercept the retiring German destroyers. About 12:45 am the 21st, HMS Swift, commanded by Commander Ambrose Peck, with HMS Broke in support, spotted an unknown torpedo boat to the port bow. Swift attacked the boat, torpedoing G85 and disabling it, while Broke, under Commander Edward ‘Teddy’ Evans, rammed G42 and disabled the torpedo boat in hand-to-hand action.[lxxv] Broke was damaged by S53’s 105 mm cannon, but still managed to sink G85 with a torpedo after the German flotilla retreated. 89 sailors were recovered from G42 and G85.[lxxvi]

HMS Broke, from Steve Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea (2017)

The temporary defeat of the Flanders raiders, the introduction of the Felixstowe flying boats, and above all else, the introduction of the United States, made a powerful tonic for the Admiralty’s ailing morale. Jellicoe, however, still faced a mounting crisis. He turned to the Naval Staff for answers.

Organization of the Naval Staff, 1905 – 1917 (May), from Nicholas Black, The British Naval Staff In The First World War (2011)

In April 1917 the Anti-Submarine Division (ASD) of the staff was composed of 15 officers and two civilians, spread across seven offices located in the Admiralty Building, Block III.[lxxvii] The U-boat threat plot was kept in a Chart Room within the Convoy Section of the Naval Staff. The Chart Room was managed by Commander J. W. Carrington.[lxxviii] this room, known as the ‘X’ room, displayed a 6’ by 9’ map of all of the known information on submarines, convoys and their most recent locations or sightings.[lxxix] The ASD thus controlled a centralized hub for collecting from the Intelligence Division and disseminating to the Operations Division, U-boat data on the approaching Atlantic convoys. U-boat signal intercepts detected by the Direction Finding (D/F) stations along the coast alerted the Director of Intelligence to submarine activity. The cryptanalysts in Room 40 could then triangulate the location of a transmitting U-boat to within 50 or 20 miles and send this information, via pneumatic tube, instantly to the Chart Room.[lxxx]

Naval Staff2.5

It was imperative that Jellicoe be in the closest touch with the Staff, and in May 1917 he was promoted to Chief of the Naval Staff, uniting that position with the office of the First Sea Lord.[lxxxi] These reforms resulted in Admiral Duff’s promotion to Assistant Chief of the Staff, with Henry Oliver becoming the Deputy Chief.[lxxxii] By assigning duties to the assistant and deputy the Chief of Staff was, in Winston Churchill’s words, relieved of ‘a mass of work.’[lxxxiii] The Director of Operations, Captain Thomas Jackson and, after June 1917, Captain George W. Hope, were to prepare a weekly appraisals of the naval situation, with specific attention to submarines, for the First Sea Lord and the War Cabinet.[lxxxiv]

Organization of the Naval Staff and Admiralty Board, c. September 1917, from Jellicoe, Crisis of the Naval War (1920), p. 20

Captain William Fisher, playing a part in Jellicoe’s reforms, replaced Admiral Duff as DASD. Fisher took a direct interest in operational aspects, orchestrating Jellicoe’s broader mission to centralize methods and material; he would communicate directly with the district commanders, such as on 21 July when he wrote a letter to Plymouth commander Admiral Bethell, proposing the use of kite balloons as a screen for convoys in his Area of Responsibility (AOR).[lxxxv]

 

The Decision for Convoys

The First Sea Lord, as we have seen, was initially skeptical of the possibilities of convoys.[lxxxvi] Early interest in convoy formation, not only in the English Channel and across the North Sea, but also in the Mediterranean, was ignored.[lxxxvii] Jellicoe’s initial blindness to convoy adoption hinged primarily on the scale of the endeavour. As he pointed out in 1934, the convoy system as had evolved by November 1917 for the Atlantic and English Channel required 170 escort vessels of all kinds (of which, 37 were USN destroyers), plus another 32 escorts covering the northern crossing with Norway, and a another 30 escorts in the Mediterranean for a total of 232 vessels, with another 217 escorts working with the fleet units.[lxxxviii] In practice, assembling, directing and communicating with the convoys proved a strenuous task, atmospheric conditions, enemy jamming, battle damage to communications equipment, all had an impact on a convoy’s, or squadron’s, ability to communicate. An officer was assigned to each arrival/departure terminus to manage assembly and coordinate with the escorts and merchantmen. In any given convoy the convoy itself was under the command of the convoy Commodore, while supporting warships were under the authority of the Senior Officer, Escort.[lxxxix]

 

Jellicoe as First Sea Lord, attending the Inter-Allied Conference in Paris, 27 July 1917, Rear Admiral Alexander Duff, the Director of the Anti-Submarine Division of the Naval Staff to his right

In early April the Scandinavian trade began to be convoyed, and with success. This was done at the insistence of the Norwegian government, who urged that the Admiralty do more to protect Norwegian merchant ships in the North Sea, of which 27 were sunk during March, and another 27 in April, plus six Danish and two Swedish neutrals.[xc] Of these ships, as Steve Dunn observes, nine were torpedoed by a single U-boat, U30, over the period 10 to 15 April.[xci]  Losses in the Lerwick – Bergan route, between the Shetland Islands and the Norwegian coast, were running at 25% per month since inception.

Although cross-Channel trade was by now routinely convoyed, the scale of crossing the North Sea, and the importance of the trade, including vitals such as ‘nitrates, carbide, timber, iron and steel,’ now necessitated new tactics.[xcii] Vice Admiral Frederick Brock, in command of the Orkneys and Shetlands, and on his own authority, was sharing destroyers for escort work with the C-in-C East Coast of England, and the C-in-C Rosyth: a plan they initiated on 3 March.[xciii]

Greenwich and the Thames, by William Wyllie

Jellicoe could see that this was the best option, given the dismal results from all other efforts.[xciv] Still, the First Sea Lord was wary about depleting the Grand Fleet’s destroyer flotillas, and was skeptical the convoy system would succeed in the long run.[xcv] In April, however, with the success of the Channel coal trade, where ‘controlled sailings’ had been implemented since 10 February with correspondingly dramatic reduction in losses such that, between then and the end of August, only 16 of the 8,871 ships convoyed across the Channel had been sunk.[xcvi] Jellicoe was just beginning to come around to the implementation of Admiral Duff’s comprehensive recommendation for convoying ‘all vessels – British, Allied and Neutral – bound from North and South Atlantic to United Kingdom’.[xcvii]

The pivot, from the perspective of the War Cabinet, occurred on Monday 23 April, when Lloyd George decided upon an upcoming visit to the Admiralty. The PM’s objective was certainly to put pressure on the Admiralty, but also simply to discover the details of whatever trade protection schemes the Navy was working on. Jellicoe had so far not suggested arranging convoys as the solution, rather relying on a multitude of measures, some more effective than others. In this case, DASD Rear Admiral Duff was in agreement with Grand Fleet C-in-C Admiral Sir David Beatty, as well as Admiral Sims, that convoy should be universally adopted. Jellicoe was still skeptical, having been convinced, in the weeks following the 13 February debate with Hankey, by interviews with a number of merchant ship captains who testified that station-keeping and convoy assembling, in particular, of inbound traffic, would be exceedingly difficult if not impossible.[xcviii] Jellicoe also clung to the dearth of destroyers, as well as an apparently deficient convoy trial that Beatty had conducted as counter-arguments. Under pressure from the PM, however, Jellicoe stated that he would reconsider Duff’s convoy proposal.[xcix]

Merchant convoy maneuvering with air support

Duff produced his report three days later, suggesting a program for convoying all Atlantic trade. The DASD observed that, in fact, contrary to Jellicoe’s perspective that convoys were merely larger targets, ‘it would appear that the larger the convoy passing through any given danger zone, provided it is moderately protected, the less the loss to the Merchant Services; that is, for instance, were it feasible to escort the entire volume of trade which normally enters the United Kingdom per diem in one large group, the submarine as now working would be limited to one attack, which, with a Destroyer escort, would result in negligible losses compared with those new being experienced.’[c] Jellicoe approved the scheme the next day, 27 April 1917, that is, three days before the PM arrived at the Admiralty.[ci]

Under Duff’s scheme, the Atlantic trade would be assembled into convoys at four key depots, where they would be joined by escorts and then shuttled into British harbours. Every four days 18 vessels would depart Gibraltar, escorted by two vessels outward and inward bound (requiring six escorts altogether – the other two being spares). Every five days 18 merchants would depart Dakar, protected by three escorts out and in, (nine escorts total). Every three days between 16-20 vessels would leave Louisburg, escorted by four destroyers both ways (12 total), and lastly, every three days 18 ships would depart Newport News, to be escorted by six destroyers (18 total), for a total program of 45 escorts. A further 45 destroyers would provide protection for the final leg of the inbound convoys, with six destroyers meeting each incoming convoy and escorting it to one of the pre-arranged collection points, either St. Mary’s, the Scillies, Plymouth, Milford Haven or Brest.[cii]

130 ton armed lighter X222, one of the armada of light vessels constructed or converted during PM Asquith’s wartime ministries. Originally designed for amphibious landings, these support craft were in converted to A/S patrol and convoy escort duties in 1917

 

Lloyd George and Hankey did indeed visit the Admiralty on 30 April, and had lunch with Carson, Jellicoe and his family, plus Duff, Captain Webb of the Trade Division and several Assistant Directors from the Naval Staff.[ciii] Jellicoe, the pessimist, considered the Prime Minister ‘a hopeless optimist’ who could not be swayed from his opinions regardless of the 1SL’s cold calculations.[civ] As Hankey phrased it, the meeting ‘set the seal on the decision to adopt the convoy system’.[cv] As significant as the decision in favour of convoys had been, another important decision was made at the next War Cabinet meeting: Lloyd George and Jellicoe agreed that Eric Geddes should be appointed as a civilian naval controller to administer all shipbuilding and supply for naval purposes.[cvi] Geddes strong hand ensured the delivering of the mass of material needed for ASW, with vessels available for A/S duty ballooning from 64 destroyers, 11 sloops and 16 P-boats in July 1917 to 102 destroyers, 24 sloops and 44 P-boats by November, a standard that was maintained well into 1918 when in April there were 115 destroyers, 35 sloops and 45 P-boats available for ASW.[cvii]

Various Francis Dodd artwork detailing shipboard convoy and patrol routine

It was still early in May when in Washington meanwhile, Sims and Balfour had convinced the Americans to supply 36 destroyers for RN use, a welcome development that would fill half of Jellicoe’s destroyer requirements.[cviii] Indeed, on the 22nd Jellicoe reported to the War Cabinet that the general situation was, ‘for the moment, more reassuring.’[cix] During May the loss rate fell significantly: 106,000 tons of shipping had been destroyed in the Mediterranean, with another 213,000 tons – 78 British ships – lost in all other theatres.[cx] 

Furthermore, the RN and RNAS were conducting more frequent engagements with U-boats, suggesting that the A/S measures were having some impact, although as yet there were few concrete results. Of the seven U-boats destroyed during May, only three were attributable to RN efforts: U81, torpedoed by RN submarine E54, UC26, rammed by the destroyer HMS Milne, and UB39 which blew up on Dover Strait mines.[cxi] Significantly, the nature of the U-boat attacks had changed. In March, only 69 ships approaching Britain from the North or South Atlantic had been attacked, with only 32 ships attacked leaving British ports for the same destinations (this was in addition to 62 fishing vessels that were attacked, and another 60 ships in the Channel). By May the figure for import ships attacked had climbed to 100, while the export number had fallen to 20 (only 38 vessels in the Channel attacked, and only 20 fishing vessels).[cxii] Whereas 100,333 tons had been sunk in the Channel during May, only 32,000 tons were sunk in June 1917, a major success.[cxiii]

HMS Fawn, a 380 ton destroyer armed with one 12 pdr and five 6 pdr guns plus two torpedo tubes, on convoy escort duty & a Japanese destroyer escorting the Alexandria – Tarento convoy, 1918

By the end of May 1917, as Henry Newbolt observed, it was the unescorted import trade that was now at the greatest risk of attack: ‘five times as vulnerable as the export trade’.[cxiv] Experimental Atlantic convoys were tested late in May and, by the end of July 1917, 21 Atlantic convoys had run successfully. Of the 354 ships escorted across that ocean, a mere two were sunk by U-boats. Of all convoys run during this period, of 8,894 ships convoyed, only 27 were destroyed by enemy submarines. The statistics demonstrated that convoys were the best method for protecting merchant shipping. Although ships traveling in convoys were relatively safe, there was still a great mass of unescorted traffic that was easy prey for the U-boats. During the May to July period, 910,133 tons of the total 1,868,555 tons sunk was destroyed by High Sea Fleet U-boats operating in the Atlantic.[cxv]

U-boats operating in 1917, and British tonnage sunk per submarine. Newbolt, Naval Operations, vol. V, 1931, p. 195

Shipping losses were heavy and Jellicoe reported that, up to 20 May, 185 ships had been sunk by U-boats (105 British, 36 Allied and 44 neutrals), for 239,816 tons of British shipping lost: a cumulative total of 362,183 tons destroyed.[cxvi] Jellicoe estimated this number would likely climb to 500,000 tons before the end of the month. In the event, 616,316 tons (or 596,629)[cxvii] were indeed sunk by the end of May, 352,596 tons of which were British.[cxviii] There were 126 U-boats in Germany’s possession that May, with 47 the average number at sea on a daily basis that month. A month later the figure was 55, falling to 41 in July. 15 boats were lost during that three-month period, equating to 53 merchants ships (124,750 tons) sunk on average for each U-boat lost, which was down from the rate of 86 ships (194,524 tons) during the previous period, February to April.

In terms of U-boats lost or destroyed versus new commissions, September was the costliest month for the German submarine force. From Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 278

Unfortunately for the Allies, U-boat losses were more than made up for by the 24 new U-boats constructed during May and July.[cxix] In James Goldrick’s phrase ‘the navy admitted reality’ as more U-boats were urgently required, and an order for 95 boats, mainly UB and UC types but including ten U-cruisers, was placed in early June. At the peak of new construction, after another 220 boats were ordered in June 1918, some 300 U-boats of varying types were on order, 74 were completed in the ten months before the armistice, 1.85 per week.[cxx] Besides the battlecruiser SMS Hindenburg, and three further light cruisers, these would be amongst the last warships completed for the Kaiserliche Marine.[cxxi]

The strategic situation in the North Sea, 1917 – 1918, Map 9 from Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (1998), p. 248

Convoy Implementation, July to September 1917

The improvements in air support, war material, American destroyers, the rolling adoption of convoys, combined with fatigue amongst the U-boats and loss of some experienced crews, was having an impact on the spiralling shipping loss rate. Import trade, which was now generally convoyed, was well protected so once again the U-boats concentrated their efforts against outbound shipping, which so far had not been incorporated into the convoy system.[cxxii] Jellicoe was now convinced of the need to implement a total convoy system, and outward-bound ships began to be convoyed on 13 August, the needed escorts being removed from the Grand Fleet. The results were excellent: during August, only three of the 200 ships convoyed in outbound convoys were lost, a figure that increased to 789 ships convoyed with only two losses during September. Likewise, 1,306 ships were convoyed inbound across the Atlantic, with only 18 lost that month.[cxxiii]

When the system was fully operational, as Arthur Marder described, there were ‘on the average, sixteen homeward convoys at sea, of which three were in the Home Submarine Danger Zone (Western Approaches, Irish Sea, of English Channel), under destroyer escort. There was an average of seven outward convoys at sea, of which four to five were in the Home Danger Zone. It is worth emphasizing that the convoy system protected neutral as well as British and Allied shipping’.[cxxiv]

The effectiveness of the U-boats had been crippled by this comprehensive convoy system, although the Mediterranean, where convoys had not yet been implemented, remained fertile hunting grounds, albeit with too few submarines operating there to represent a serious impediment to Allied supplies. Regardless, between October and November 1917 a convoy system was arranged for those waters, and by the end of November 381 ships, or 40% of all the Mediterranean traffic, had been successfully convoyed with the loss of only nine vessels.[cxxv]

Depth charge attack, by William Wyllie.

One of the key material improvements was in the quality and quantity of Britain’s undersea weapons, from torpedoes to depth charges and mines. During 1915 and 1916, 6,177 not very effective mines were laid in the Heligoland Bight. In 1917 the Allies reverse-engineered the more effective German mine, and production numbers increased significantly. Jellicoe was an aggressive advocate of mine operations and he championed the introduction of the German ‘horned’ type over the defective British ‘lever’ mines, specifically for the Dover Barrage,[cxxvi] while also advancing the technical and quantitative refinement of aerial bombs and escort depth-charges.[cxxvii] 12,450 mines were produced between October and December 1917,[cxxviii] with 10,389 laid in the Heligoland Bight and Dover Strait. Marder states that 20,000 mines were laid in the Dover Strait and Bight between July and December 1917, of which 15,686 were laid (in 76 fields) in the Bight during 1917.

hornedmines

‘Horned’ mines carried aboard a minelayer.

British mine counter-measures also improved, with 726 vessels counted in the sweeping force, or paravane equipped, so that only ten British vessels, less than 20,000 tons, were sunk by mines during 1918, compared to more than 250,000 tons lost in the first ten months of 1917.[cxxix]

Six U-boats were in fact destroyed by mines between September and the end of the year.[cxxx] At the beginning of 1918 the increased lethality of the Dover, Bight and Zeebrugge minefields meant that U-boats wishing to reach the Atlantic approaches had to exit the North Sea via the Orkney’s passage, or risk running the Channel nets and minefields. A vast effort was decided upon to mine the North Sea exit (250 miles, requiring 100,000 special ‘antenna’ mines),[cxxxi] and plans were examined to block the U-boats’ bases at Zeebrugge, Ostend, and Kiel. Another 7,500 mines would cut-off the Danish strait.[cxxxii]

A scheme to deploy 21,000 mines from Wangeroog to Heligoland to Pellworm, thus attempting to block the base of operations for the High Sea Fleet’s U-boats, was also considered. Actually executing these plans once again raised problems exposed by the schemes of Winston Churchill (Borkum) and Sir John Fisher (Baltic), that had not been resolved in 1914-15. The operation would require a vast armament, success was not guaranteed, and the potential for a catastrophic defeat was real.[cxxxiii]

 

RNAS Million based Coastal airship C23A escorting a convoy early in 1918 (C23A was wrecked on 10 May near Newbury)

The Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) had not been neglected in this vast expansion of military hardware. Indeed, the coastal patrol and convoy escort roles supplied by the naval aviators were essential and had been significantly expanded, with 324 seaplanes, flying boats, and airplanes on duty, plus around 100 airships of various types.[cxxxiv]

Felixstowe F3, N4230, IWM photograph.

During 1917 the majority of these aircraft were involved in air patrol missions, in June 1917 only 46 airplane and 46 airship convoy escort missions were flown, but the figure rose to 92 and 86 respectively in September before poor weather curtailed flying.[cxxxv] By April 1918 the figure was 176 and 184, jumping to 402 and 269 in May. Airships provided the convoy with a constant deterrent to submarine attack, except during night, while flying boats and airplanes could fly in advance of the convoy on look-out, or counter-attack any located U-boats with bombs, which increased in potency from 230 lb delayed-fuse bombs introduced in May 1917 to the 520 lb bombs in use by 1918.[cxxxvi]

 

RNAS and RAF coverage of the Atlantic approaches by the SNO Plymouth and Queenstown. The RNAS South West Group under Wing Captain E. L. Gerrard implemented sweeping ‘spider-web’ flying-boat patrols off the coast of England and Wales, while Vice Admiral Bayly at Queenstown worked with Captain Hutch Cone, United States Navy, to develop flying-boat bases in Ireland.

Although convoy escort and improved A/S methods and material reduced the potential for a starvation defeat, shortages were still a serious problem. Oil imports to the UK were falling drastically as tankers were destroyed. On 11 June Jellicoe reported that he intended to form weekly oil convoys to relieve the situation.[cxxxvii] Two days later Jellicoe reported to the War Cabinet that the implementation of the convoy system was ‘nearly complete.’[cxxxviii]

Convoys were highly successful in 1917, as this figure from Marder indicates. Of the 26,404 ships that sailed in convoys during that year, only 147 were lost. The Scandinavian and Atlantic convoys were the most susceptible targets for convoy interdiction missions, while the sparsely escorted Mediterranean had the highest loss rate that year.

Effects of Ocean Convoys, with the losses vs successful convoy sailing ‘cross-over’ point at August – September 1917, from Tarrant, The U-Boat Offensive, p. 73

By the end of 1917 26,404 ships had sailed in organized merchant convoys: 4,484 across the Atlantic, 6,155 between Scotland and Scandinavia, and 15,684 in the French coal trade, with a total loss of only 147 vessels.[cxxxix] 32.5% and 42.5%, respectively, of those ships that were lost while being convoyed, were sunk while entering or leaving a convoy, when confusion was at its greatest.[cxl] These results were significant, as compared with June 1917 when 122 British merchant ships were sunk with a loss of 417,925 tons in a single month. Although loss rates dropped significantly by November, 85 ships were still lost to mines (8) and U-boats (76) at loss of 253,087 tons of British merchant shipping in December.[cxli] Allied tonnage losses, that is, non-British shipping losses, plummeted from 72 ships at 111,683 tons in July to only 46 ships at 86,981 tons in December.[cxlii]

By August 1917 the convoy system had been systematically implemented in all three maritime theatres, the North Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean

The Flanders UB and UC flotillas were, however, continually destroying Channel shipping at an average of 50,000 tons a month for the entire period and the Third Ypres offensive had failed to capture Passchendaele, and critically, the U-boat bases along the Belgian coast. Despite these set-backs there was room for hope. In the Atlantic the tonnage loss rate fell from 550,000 tons in April, to only 165,000 tons in November. 37 U-boats were destroyed during the second half of 1917, 16 by mines, the total equivalent to 7.4 boats a month, nearly matching the commission rate for new U-boats, 8.8 per month.[cxliii]

Counter-blockade submarine U151, 1,500 tons displacement, first of seven initially designed for use as blockade runners and in April 1917 converted to an Atlantic battle submarine, entering service in July 1917.

In September there were 139 submarines operating, the wartime peak, allowing for an increased daily average of 56 U-boats in October, more than the 39 at sea in November or the 48 in December.[cxliv] With nearly fifty U-boats continuously at sea every day, and new long-endurance U-boat cruisers plumbing the Atlantic to the tune of 52,000 tons per three month cruise, as U155 achieved in the fall of 1917 (10 steamers & seven sailing ships), the submarine war was far from over.[cxlv]

Daily average of U-boats at sea & total (Allied, Neutral & British) tonnage sunk on average per boat. The sinking rate was cut almost in half between March and December 1917. Furthermore the average daily number and size of vessels sunk was falling: whereas in March 889 tons of British shipping was on average destroyed each day, by August that number had fallen to 485 tons, & half again to 284 tons by December. In March – June the average size of each ship sunk was 5,084 tons gross, falling to 4,342 tons in July – October. Tarrant, The U-Boat Offensive, p. 58

 

Convoy Battles, October – December 1917

From Jellicoe’s perspective, the Royal Navy was engaged in an unprecedented destroyer and submarine action with the German Navy, with the possibility for a High Sea Fleet sortie at any time. Early in the morning of October 17, German light cruisers raided a west-bound Scandinavian convoy of 12 (two British, one Belgian, one Danish, five Norwegian, three Swedish) that had departed Marstein in the company of two destroyers, HMS Strongbow and Mary Rose.[cxlvi] Just after 6 am on the 17th, Strongbow spotted two unidentified vessels on a converging course. In fact, these were the 3,800 ton German minelaying cruisers SMS Brummer and Bremse, with orders to mine the Scandinavian convoy routes.

 

SMS Brummer, minelaying cruiser that along with sistership SMS Bremse, attacked a Scandinavian convoy on 17 October 1917 & HMS Strongbowdestroyed by SMS Brummer & Bremse at the action of 17 October 1917

The light cruisers proceeded to make short work of Strongbow and Mary Rose with their 15 cm guns.[cxlvii] The trawlers Elise and P. Fannon, armed with only one 6 pdr gun apiece, along with three unarmed steamers, managed to escape and retrieve Lieutenant Commander Brooke, CO of the Strongbow and others, from the water.[cxlviii] The enemy cruisers destroyed the remaining nine merchants in the convoy.[cxlix]

Locations of major minefields, Tarrant, The U-boat Offensive, p. 62 & The chaotic minefield situation in the Heligoland Bight, 17 November 1917, from Newbolt, Naval Operations, vol. V, p. 168-9

On 17 November the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight took place when the First Battle Cruiser Squadron, under Rear Admiral Phillimore, a component of Admiral Pakenham’s Battle Cruiser Force, intercepted a group of High Sea Fleet minesweepers that were attempting to clear the edge of the Bight minefields.[cl] Rear Admiral Phillimore’s HMS Repulse group pursued the minesweepers, but the Germans deployed a large smoke screen that successfully covered their escape.[cli]

HMS Repulse or Renown at steam, by William Weyllie. & Second Battle of Heligoland Bight, 17 November 1917, also by Wyllie

On 11 December Admiral Scheer ordered Commander Heinecke’s Second Flotilla (Torpedo Boat Flotilla II), comprising the largest and fastest destroyers in the fleet,[clii] to raid Britain’s merchant convoys. The Fourth Half-Flotilla was to attack shipping near Newcastle, while the Third Half-Flotilla raided the Scandinavian Bergen-Lerwick line. During the winter darkness early on 12 December, the Fourth Half-Flotilla destroyers (B97, B109, B110 & B112), moving north up the coast, encountered the stragglers from a southbound coastal convoy out of Lerwick, Shetlands, and torpedoed two transports, the Danish Peter Willemoes and the Swedish Nike and sank a third small coastal steamer shortly afterwards.[cliii] The Fourth Half-Flotilla then withdrew for its rendezvous with the light cruiser SMS Emden at 5:15 pm.[cliv]

German destroyers in formation, from Goldrick, After Jutland (2018), photo 9.1

The complexities of night-time communication in crowded sea-lanes meant that no clear indication of what was happening reached the Admiralty. Furthermore, the poor weather conditions and dearth of coastal lighting (suppressed except at specific times at Admiralty orders) resulted in the Third Half-Flotilla becoming lost and eventually approaching the Norwegian coast.[clv]

 

G101-type German destroyer, c. 1916

So it was with complete surprise that the daily convoy from Lerwick to the Marstein lighthouse, escorted by destroyers HMS Pellew and HMS Partridge, plus four armed trawlers, at 11:30 am south-west of Bjorne Fjord, encountered the German destroyers of the Third Half-Flotilla, under the command of Korvettenkapitan (Lieutenant-Commander) Hans Kolbe, a powerful force composed of SMS G101, G103, G104 & V100.[clvi] Lieutenant-Commander J. R. C. Cavendish of the Pellew, when the unknown destroyers approaching the convoy did not answer his signals, transmitted a warning notice to Beatty informing the C-in-C of the expected enemy contact (a signal actually received by the armoured cruiser HMS Shannon and its group, about sixty miles away), and then ordered the convoy to scatter.[clvii]

A RN destroyer and three armed drifters escorting a convoy of merchant ships, c. 1917-18

The 12 December 1917 convoy action, from Scheer’s High Sea Fleet, p. 383

Pellew and Partridge placed themselves between the German destroyers and the convoy hoping to buy time.[clviii] Kolbe’s force destroyed Partridge with gunfire and torpedoes until it sank. Pellew, partially disabled by gunfire, was lost in a storm and LTC Cavendish was able to navigate the destroyer towards the Norwegian coast while Kolbe turned on the convoy (six merchants, four trawlers) and annihilated it.[clix] Although the Partridge distress report was received by HMS Rival and then transmitted to the HMS Birkenhead group (3rd Light Cruiser Squadron) south of Norway, Kolbe’s force managed to slip east past the picket line shortly after sunset.[clx]

Chart of 12 December 1917 destroyer raid on the Scandinavian convoy route, from Marder, FDSF, IV

While this example demonstrated that Germany’s surface assets were very much still a risk to the convoy system, another encounter a week later with U-boats operating near a convoy assembly point highlighted the multidimensional nature of the battle.

A convoy of 17 departed Falmouth in stormy weather at 11 am on 18 December, screened by several trawlers. When the convoy was clear of the Channel and off Prawle point at 1:30 pm, the SS Riversdale was torpedoed. At noon the C-in-C Devonport, receiving reports of sunk merchant ships, ordered all merchant traffic between Plymouth and Portland to be halted, a condition that remained in force until 8 pm, and then again from 5:15 am.[clxi]

The 7,046 ton Cunard liner SS Vinovia was the next to be torpedoed, off Wolf Rock an hour later, with nine lives lost.[clxii] The Rame Head wireless-telegraphy (W/T) station reported a sighting, and the C-in-C Devonport ordered the trawlers in F section to investigate. These were the Mewslade and Coulard Hill. These hydrophone equipped vessels established a hydrophone picket, but did not locate any submarines.[clxiii] Meanwhile, airship C23, which had been despatched to investigate the Rame Head W/T contact, discovered that the French steamer St. Andre had also been torpedoed, sometime around around midnight.[clxiv]

UC100, UCIII-type coastal minelayer submarine, from Tarrant, The U-boat Offensive (2000)

Lieutenant John Lawris RNR, in the sailing ship Mitchell, encountered a U-boat surfacing in windy weather off the north Devon coast. When, at 10:10 am, a submarine surfaced in front of the Mitchell Lt. Lawris opened fire, multiple shell hits causing the U-boat to dive. Although the trawler Sardius raced to support the Mitchell, the submarine was already gone.[clxv] Mitchell relayed this information to the Trevose Head W/T station at 10:25, and the report was broadcast around the region, where it was received at Penzance, Falmouth, Newlyn and elsewhere.[clxvi] The rush of W/T communication amidst the flurry of sighting reports caused communication delays. One Falmouth flotilla, carrying out hydrophone investigations of sightings, did not receive a sinking report until five and half hours after the event.[clxvii]

UB148 at sea

At 4:00 pm the Prince Charles de Belgique, a Belgian steamer, was attacked by a submarine eight miles from the Lizard. Luckily the torpedo missed, whence the U-boat was spotted by a Newlyn NAS seaplane cruising overhead at 500 ft. The seaplane carried out a bombing attack but was unsuccessful. Simultaneously at 4 pm, the trawler Take Care, while protecting the Brixham fishing fleet, spotted a submarine near Berry Head, although no further sightings were made. Several hours later trawler Lysander was picking up the survivors of the torpedoed Norwegian steamer Ingrid II, which had been enroute to Cardif for repairs.[clxviii] The Alice Marie was sunk next, sometime before midnight, then the Warsaw at 1:20 am, and then at 4 am the Eveline. The trawlers Rinaldo and Ulysses could do nothing to intervene, dashing between reports and unable to make firm detections with their hydrophones.[clxix]

A significant score of ships destroyed, and no submarine caught in the act. The impact of A/S measures continued to be essentially random, thus when UB56 crashed into a mine in the English Channel it became the only German casualty associated with the 18 December action.[clxx] Ten merchant ships of three nations had been lost, but the convoy, reduced to 16, still crossed successfully.

St. Paul’s and Blackfriars Bridge, by William Wyllie.

These battles and others like them demonstrate that as 1917 came to a close the Royal Navy had to strengthen and refine its procedures for convoy escort and ASW. Outside of the Mediterranean, the English Channel, Irish Sea and the Scandinavian corridor were all vulnerable to attack, especially near the as yet unescorted coastal routes.

 

Resolution: Attacks on the Belgian Submarine Bases & the Defeat of the U-boats in 1918

When 1918 opened the convoy system had been widely adopted and plentiful resources were being supplied to the regional commanders. The coastal space, however, had become highly contested. A German surface raid attack near Yarmouth on 14 January involved 50 vessels of various kinds, but was driven off by Commodore Tyrwhitt’s Harwich Force.[clxxi] Despite the ongoing surface and submarine battle, crucially, merchant sinkings were well below crisis levels and falling.[clxxii] In December 1917 the German Admiralty made Vice Admiral Ritter von Mann-Tiechler head of a dedicated U-boat office, recognition of ad hoc nature of the previous year of unrestricted submarine warfare.[clxxiii]

Sir Eric Campbell Geddes as Vice Admiral and First Lord of the Admiralty, 1917, photograph by Walter Stoneman

Naval Staff reforms c. January 1918, from Nicholas Black, The British Naval Staff In The First World War (2011)

The Naval Staff as organized in January 1918 for the Geddes – Wemyss administration, from Jellicoe, Crisis of the Naval War (1920), p. 27

1918adboard2.5jpg-1-1

Jellicoe, in a controversial decision by Lloyd George and Geddes, was removed from office in December, and then replaced by his Deputy, Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss.[clxxiv] Vice Admiral Sir Herbert L. Heath became the Second Sea Lord, Rear Admiral Lionel Halsey retained the Third Sea Lord position, and Rear Admiral Hugh H. D. Tothill became the Fourth Sea Lord. Duff stayed on as ACNS, and Rear Admiral Sydney R. Fremantle became Deputy DCNS and Rear Admiral George P. W. Hope of the Naval Staff’s Operations Division the Deputy First Sea Lord.[clxxv] Geddes now reformed the staff again, delegating home operations and air to the DCNS, the ASD and other trade protection elements to the ACNS, while the Deputy 1SL assumed responsibility for foreign operations.[clxxvi]

naval-staff3.3-1918

Next to fall from the famous Geddes axe was Vice Admiral Bacon, the long serving SNO Dover. Wemyss appointed Rear Admiral Roger Keyes in his place on 1 January 1918. Captain Wilfred Tomkinson became Captain of the Dover Destroyers.[clxxvii] The arrangement of the Dover Barrage, as it had been under Bacon, was expanded with a new system of illumination, authored by Wing Commander F. A. Brock (RNAS), son of the Brock of Brock’s firework (and explosive bullet) manufacturer, coinciding with a new patrol scheme, whereby 80 to 100 destroyers and auxiliaries were constantly patrolling the Straits by day and night.[clxxviii]

The positions of the Channel mine net and Folkestone – Gris Nez minefields in 1918, from Tarrant, The U-boat Offensive, 1914-1915 (2000)

Between 19 December 1917 and 8 February 1918 four U-boats were mined in the Channel, and UB35 was depth-charged by HMS Leven.[clxxix] The increased danger was so significant that Commodore Michelsen was forced to prohibit the use of the Channel route and instead endorse the northern route around Scotland, effectively adding five days of transit to the U-boats’ cruise.[clxxx]

Drifter net-mine deployment

The Flanders command launched another anti-shipping sortie on 14 January with 14 destroyers, although in the event no merchant ships were encountered.[clxxxi] A month later, on 13 February, Commander Heinecke’s Second Flotilla was despatched to attack the Dover – Calais barrage, in particular, the lights that since December 1917 had drastically increased the risk to transiting U-boats.[clxxxii] Heinecke’s destroyers departed in thick fog, and anchored overnight north of Norderney.

Dover trawlers and motor-launches, from Steve Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea (2017)

After working around to the English coast the attackers, eight in total, split into two half-flotillas and waited until night, and then, around 12:30 am on the 15th, began their raid against the well lit and heavily defended cross-Channel barrage. Attaining complete surprise, Heinecke’s force (Fourth Half-Flotilla) destroyed, according to Scheer, a searchlight vessel, 13 drifters, a U-boat chaser, a torpedo boat and two motor-boats, while the other half-flotilla (Third Half-Flotilla), working the southern end of the barrage, sank 12 trawlers and two motor-boats. Steve Dunn and James Goldrick give the accurate figure of seven drifters, one trawler sunk, with three drifters one paddle steamer damaged.[clxxxiii]

Zeebrugge raid of 22 April 1918, showing location of harbour assault force and canal blockships, from Cecil Aspinall-Oglander, Roger Keyes (1951)

Dover’s new C-in-C Admiral Roger Keyes now conducted the long-planned Flanders coast raid on 22 April.[clxxxiv] Although the blockships meant to obstruct the Zeebrugge harbour were only effective for a few days, the daring raid was described as a triumph by the press, with eight Victoria Crosses being awarded to the participants.[clxxxv] A further attempt to block the Ostend canal was attempted on 9-10 May, with likewise limited results.[clxxxvi]

On 23 April 1918 the High Sea Fleet launched a planned raid against the Scandinavian convoy route.[clxxxvii] This was a major operation involving the battlecruisers of the Scouting Group under Admiral von Hipper, in addition to light cruisers and destroyers, supported by Scheer’s main force. As the advanced group cleared the Heligoland minefields, however, SMS Moltke threw a propeller and suffered a turbine failure that ultimately damaged the engines and caused a breach in the hull. The battlecruiser had to be taken in tow by SMS Oldenburg.[clxxxviii]

24 April 1918 High Sea Fleet sortie, from James Goldrick, After Jutland (2018), map 13.1

The Grand Fleet was notified by Room 40 that the High Sea Fleet was out of harbour and Beatty prepared the fleet for sea,[clxxxix] although there was no chance the British could catch the Germans before they returned to harbour.[cxc] Later that evening, after being restored to its own power, Moltke was torpedoed by RN submarine E42, but managed to return safety of the Jade.[cxci] The fleet operation had failed to locate any convoys and the High Sea Fleet would not sortie again until it sailed for internment on 24 November 1918.

The bomb-proof U-boat pens at Bruges.

While the U-boats’ areas of operation were slowly being squeezed by increasingly comprehensive convoys and sophisticated hydrophone and aerial sweeps, the bombing campaign by RNAS Dunkirk, and after 1 April 1918, RAF No. 5 Group, against the Flanders U-boat bases was renewed.  Wing Captain Charles Lambe’s 27 May operating orders called for the No. 5 Group (Dunkirk) to bomb the Bruges docks twice a day, both day and night.[cxcii] Indeed, 70 tons of bombs were dropped on Bruges and Zeebrugge during May 1918.[cxciii]

 

Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) naval air, airship, and training establishment map, March 1918, and Royal Air Force (RAF) Home Defence Groups.

From mid-June until the end of August, 86 tons of bombs were dropped on Zeebrugge, Ostend and Bruges by No. 5 Group, with another 49 tons dropped by other RAF squadrons.[cxciv] Between February 1917 and November 1918 the various Allied bombing forces (the US Northern Bombing Group had been forming since June 1918),[cxcv] managed to drop 524 tons of bombs on Zeebrugge, Ostend and Bruges, and, although the Bruges electrical works were destroyed and the Zeebrugge lock gates targeted, only three submarines were damaged by the bombing programme.[cxcvi]

The U-boats, for their part, had been forced once again to change tactics, focusing on the lightly escorted outbound traffic returning across the Atlantic to America. During the summer of 1918 the U-boats, by expanding their area of operations into the western and southern Atlantic, scored a series successful sinkings.

Powerful 2,000 ton U139 – U141 ‘cruiser’ type developed for long-range operations in the Atlantic, armed with two 150 mm cannons and 19 torpedoes for its six torpedo tubes. & U140, double-hulled 12,000 nm range 2,000 ton submarine crewed by six officers and 56 men, armed with 8.8 cm and 10 cm guns and six torpedo tubes, four bow and two stern, from Eberhard Moller and Werner Brack, Encyclopedia of U-boats from 1904 to the Present (2004), p. 39

However, as the return voyage traffic was empty of supplies or troops the impact on the war was marginal in comparison to the 1.5 million American soldiers that successfully crossed the Atlantic.[cxcvii] Although shipping losses remained in the 300,000 ton/month range for the first eight months of 1918, with a high of 368,750 tons sunk in March, followed by a low of 268,505 tons in June, the sinking rate was not high enough to cripple Allied shipping.[cxcviii]

justicia

2,000 ton White Star liner Justicia, sunk 19 – 20 July 1918, despite escort, by the combined efforts of UB64, U54, with UB124 in support (damaged by escorts and then scuttled).

A notable footnote is the 10 – 25 May 1918 concentration, wherein eight U-boats grouped against the western approaches off the Irish coast. Luckily for the Admiralty, this concentration was known and cleared through careful routing of approaching convoys, thus, as Newbolt phrased it, the Royal Navy had avoided the ‘the most methodical and elaborate attempt that the Germans Staff had as yet made to interfere with the convoy system.’[cxcix]

Meanwhile, the monthly loss rate for U-boats climbed significantly during 1918, from Gibson & Prendergast, German Submarine War

The U-boats certainly needed some change in method, as during 1918 69 U-boats were destroyed, a figure that matched new construction.[cc] As Lawrence Sondhaus concluded, ‘the balance sheet of Allied tonnage sunk versus German submarines lost clearly tipped from favoring the Germans in 1917 (6.15 million tons at a cost of sixty-three U-boats) to favoring the Allies in 1918 (2.75 million tons at a cost of sixty-nine U-boats).’[cci] The implementation of air-escorted coastal convoys for the East Coast of Britain and the Irish Sea – the two remaining areas of highest shipping losses – closed the final weakness in the trade defence system, and, as Tarrant phrased it, ‘all hopes of the U-boats forcing a decision finally evaporated’.[ccii]

Sinking locations, February to October 1918, from Tarrant, The U-boat Offensive, 1914-1915 (2000)

In August 1918, with the submarine war failing and the Allies preparing for their final Western Front offensive, Admiral von Holtzendorff resigned, being replaced by Admiral Scheer.[cciii] At a meeting between Scheer and senior German industrialists held 1 October 1918 it was determined that every effort should be made to increase submarine construction, first to 16 per month and eventually up to 30 per month.[cciv] This was too little too late, however, as the submarine war was winding down as Germany’s military situation on the continent collapsed.

Decline in global merchant sinking, May – November 1918, from Tarrant, The U-boat Offensive (2000)

The Flanders U-boat bases were liberated during October 1918, a decisive event in the Allied Hundred Days offensive. The Germans evacuated Ostend on 17 October, and then Zeebrugge and Bruges two days later. On 21 October the U-boat command issued the order to cease attacks on passenger ships, followed by the recall of all U-boats to Wilhelmshaven, from which the expected final sortie of the High Sea Fleet was to take place.[ccv] The naval mutiny following the 28 October order for the suicidal final sortie, and resulting capture of the fleet bases at Wilhelmshaven, Cuxhaven and Kiel by revolutionaries on 3 November, at last terminated the submarine threat.[ccvi]

Approximate locations of U-boats destroyed during the First World War, from Gibson & Prendergast

“The Archaeology of First World War U-boat Losses in the English Channel and its Impact on the Historical Record,” Innes McCartney, Mariner’s Mirror, vol. 105, no. 2, May 2019, p. 183-201
UB131 beached near Hastings, 9 January 1921, from Tarrant, The U-Boat Offensive, p. 65

The RAF memorial, Victoria Embankment, c. 1923 by William Wyllie

Conclusion

As Stephen Roskill observed of the British experience with ASW during the Second World War, the immediate lesson was the complete failure of hunting groups, and the superior nature of escorted convoys, in particular with destroyer and air support. The old argument of offensive versus defensive measures masked the aggressive naval officer’s distaste for the rigors of convoy duty.[ccvii] The advantages of convoys were undeniable: the total space the convoy occupied was marginal when compared to the visibility of thousands of independently sailing vessels, which in effect acted as a screen for the convoys, until controls were tightened as losses continued into 1918.

First World War Royal Navy officers, by Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope, 1921.

Fast attack forces able to slip through the Royal Navy’s blockade, such as minelayers and destroyers, produced decisive results against convoys, as they were able to overwhelm the escorts. The U-boats, by concentrating against the coasts and the convoy dispersion points, and attacking the thinly escorted Atlantic and Norwegian convoy routes, were still able to inflict serious losses. The Admiralty did arrive at the essential formula for success – vastly improved A/S escorts, convoys, qualitative and quantitative improvements in material and technology from mines, depth-charges, bombs and shell, plus flying boats, airships, Q-ships, hydrophones, minesweepers and paravanes. So long as as the High Sea Fleet did not escalate the scale of its counter-blockade operations, the crucial merchant supplies would get through, while peripheral attacks, such as by the Zeppelins and Gothas against London and the coastal bases and arsenals, could not decide the outcome of the war.

The German naval command had gambled on an uncertain weapon, and come close to success. As the U-boat war evolved during 1917, both sides were forced to dramatically adjust their operations and tactics. For the Allies, restricting the movement of, and eventually counter-attacking the U-boats became the new paradigm, whereas Germany abandoned main fleet battle to focus completely on submarine construction and flotilla deployment. The historical parallel with 18th century convoy and the guerre de course was proven correct,[ccviii] and by the end of the war the tools to effectively locate and destroy U-boats had been invented, tested and operationalized. For the U-boats the lessons were clear: strength lay in numbers, and safety at night, far away from air patrols. The Second Battle of the Atlantic, twenty years later, would prove which side had truly grappled with the crisis, and mastered it.

After the War: UB77 in Portsmouth harbour with HMS Victory, from Tarrant, The U-Boat Offensive, p. 55

HMS Renown departs Portsmouth, 16 March 1920, with HMS Victory and UB77 at left, by William Wyllie.
Francis Dodd drawing of the crew cabin aboard Royal Navy ML558 & sketches of U-boats surrendering, 20 November 1918, & Square-rigged sailing ship at sea, by William Wyllie

Notes

[i] Marc Milner, “The Atlantic War, 1939-1945: The Case for a New Paradigm,” in Decision in the Atlantic, ed. Marcus Faulkner and Christopher M. Bell (University of Kentucky: Andarta Books, 2019), 5–19.

[ii] David Lloyd George, War Memoirs of David Lloyd George, Vol. I, Kindle ebook, vol. 1, 2 vols. (Arcole Publishing, 2017)., chapter 40, loc. 14420

[iii] Hague Convention on Land Warfare, July 1899, https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Treaty.xsp?documentId=CD0F6C83F96FB459C12563CD002D66A1&action=openDocument

 & Hague Convention on Neutral Powers in Naval War, October 1907, https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Treaty.xsp?documentId=06A47A50FE7412AFC12563CD002D6877&action=openDocument

[iv] Henry Newbolt, Naval Operations, vol. V, 5 vols., History of the Great War Based on Official Documents (Uckfield: The Naval & Military Press Ltd, 1931)., p. 195

[v] V. E. Tarrant, The U-Boat Offensive, 1914-1945 (London: Cassel & Co, 2000)., p. 50

[vi] Donald Macintyre, The Battle of the Atlantic (Barnsley: Pen & Sword Military Classics, 2006)., p. 73-7

[vii] Nick lloyd, Hundred Days: The End of the Great War, Kindle ebook (New York: Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2013)., Chapter 13, loc 4088

[viii] See for example, Nick Hewitt, The Kaiser’s Pirates, Hunting Germany’s Raiding Cruisers in World War I, Kindle ebook (New York: Pen & Sword Books, Ltd., 2013)., also, Julian Corbett, Naval Operations, vol. I, V vols., History of the Great War Based on Official Documents (Uckfield: The Naval & Military Press Ltd, 1920).

[ix] Nicolas Wolz, From Imperial Splendour to Internment: The German Navy in the First World War, trans. Geoffrey Brooks, Kindle ebook (Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing, 2015)., chapter 7, loc. 2730-5

[x] Gary Sheffield, “Vimy Ridge and the Battle of Arras: A British Perspective,” in Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment, ed. Geoffrey Hayes, Andrew Iarocci, and Mike Bechthold (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2010), 15–30., p. 15-6

[xi] John Terraine, Business in Great Waters: The U-Boat Wars, 1916-1945, Kindle ebook (Barnsley: Pen & Sword Military, 2009)., part I, chapter 3, loc. 1297

[xii] Wolz, From Imperial Splendour to Internment: The German Navy in the First World War., chapter 7, loc. 2735

[xiii] Holger Herwig, The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1918, Kindle ebook (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014)., p. 308

[xiv] Edwyn A. Gray, The U-Boat War, 1914-1918, Kindle ebook (London: Leo Cooper, 1994)., chapter 10, loc. 2443

[xv] Gray., chapter 10, loc. 2451

[xvi] H. A. Jones, The War In The Air, Antony Rowe Ltd. reprint, vol. IV, VI vols. (Uckfield: The Naval & Military Press Ltd, 1934)., p. 47

[xvii] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 51

[xviii] Tarrant., p. 51

[xix] Jones, WIA, IV., p. 47

[xx] Winston Churchill, The World Crisis, 1915, Kindle ebook, vol. 2, 4 vols. (New York: RosettaBooks, LLC, 1923)., chapter 15, loc. 5209

[xxi] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 48

[xxii] ‘”Blockade” Effect in U.S. Trade,’ 19 March 1917, London Times, p. 7

[xxiii] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 49

[xxiv] Gray, The U-Boat War, 1914-1918., chapter 10, loc. 2443

[xxv] Arthur Marder, ed., Portrait of an Admiral, The Life And Papers Of Herbert Richmond. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1952)., p. 228

[xxvi] Daniel A. Baugh, “Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond and the Objects of Sea Power,” in Mahan Is Not Enough: The Proceedings of a Conference on the Works of Sir Julian Corbett and Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond, ed. James Goldrick and John B. Hattendorf, Naval War College Historical Monograph 10 (Newport, Rhode Island: Naval War College Press, 1993), 13–49., p. 18 fn. See also in particular, Herbert Richmond, The Navy In The War of 1739-48, Volume III, vol. 3, 3 vols., Cambridge Naval and Military Series (London: Cambridge University Press, 1920)., p. 52 et seq

[xxvii] Julian Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy (London: The Folio Society, 2001)., p. 267-80; & Julian Corbett, Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905, Volume I, Kindle ebook, vol. 1, 2 vols. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2015)., p. 290, 359

[xxviii] Arthur Marder, From The Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: The Year of Crisis, vol. 4, 5 vols. (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1969)., p. 120-1

[xxix] Terraine, Business in Great Waters., Part 1, Chapter 3, loc. 1314-21. See also, Winston Churchill, The World Crisis: Volume III, 1916 – 1918, Kindle ebook, vol. 3, 4 vols. (New York: RosettaBooks, LLC, 2013)., Chapter 15, loc. 5253-60

[xxx] Marder, FDSF., p. 122

[xxxi] John J. Abbatiello, “The Myths and Realities of Air Anti-Submarine Warfare during the Great War,” Air Power Review 12, no. 1 (2009): 14–31., p. 14

[xxxii] Norman Leslie, “The System of Convoys for Merchant Shipping in 1917 and 1918,” Naval Review 5, no. 1 (1917): 42–95., p. 43

[xxxiii] Jones, WIA, IV., p. 45

[xxxiv] John Jellicoe, The Submarine Peril (London: Cassell & Co. Ltd., 1934)., p. 16

[xxxv] R. H. Gibson and Maurice Prendergast, The German Submarine War, 1914-1918, Reprint (London: Naval & Military Press, 1931)., p. 160

[xxxvi] Jellicoe, The Submarine Peril., p. 17-8

[xxxvii] Alexander L. N. Howlett, “The Royal Naval Air Service and the Evolution of Naval Aviation in Britain, 1914 – 1918” (PhD thesis, King’s College London, 2019)., p. 125-9

[xxxviii] Jellicoe, The Submarine Peril., p. 14

[xxxix] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., p. 10-14

[xl] Newbolt., p. 14

[xli] Marder, FDSF., IV p. 156

[xlii] War Cabinet paper by Jellicoe, 21 February 1917, ADM 1/8480, #33 in A. Temple Patterson, ed., The Jellicoe Papers, 1916-1935, vol. 2, 2 vols. (London: Spottiswoode, Ballantyne and Co. Ltd., 1968)., p. 144-9

[xliii] War Cabinet paper by Jellicoe, 21 February 1917, ADM 1/8480, #33 in Temple Patterson., p. 146-8

[xliv] Jones, WIA, IV., p. 45-6

[xlv] Jones., IV p. 47

[xlvi] Marder, FDSF., IV p. 123

[xlvii] Henry Newbolt, Naval Operations, vol. IV, 5 vols., The Naval History of the Great War (Antony Rowe Ltd., Eastbourne: The Naval & Military Press Ltd, 1928)., p. 353; James Goldrick, After Jutland: The Naval War in North European Waters, June 1916 – November 1918, Kindle ebook (Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing, 2018)., chapter 9, loc. 3018. Goldrick says Tilleson.

[xlviii] Steve Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea: The Dover Patrol, 1914-1918 (Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing, 2017)., p. 134

[xlix] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 9, loc. 3036-45

[l] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1928., p. 360-68

[li] Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea., p. 134; Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 9, loc. 3126-41

[lii] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 9, loc. 3149-58

[liii] ‘Distribution of Coal and Sugar,’ 24 March 1917, London Times, p. 8

[liv] Paul Guinn, British Strategy and Politics, 1914 to 1918 (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1965)., p. 228; see also, Stephen Roskill, Hankey: Man of Secrets, vol. I: 1877-1918, 3 vols. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1970). p. 359-60

[lv] War Cabinet meeting 100, 21 March 1917, CAB 23/2/18, p. 2

[lvi] War Cabinet meeting 110, 2 April 1917, CAB 23/2/28, p. 3

[lvii] War Cabinet meeting 110, 2 April 1917, CAB 23/2/28, p. 3

[lviii] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., p. 42

[lix] War Cabinet meeting 117, 11 April 1917, CAB 23/2/35, p. 4; see also, War Cabinet meeting 125, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/43, p. 4

[lx] War Cabinet meeting 125, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/43, p. 4

[lxi] War Cabinet meeting 113, 4 April 1917, CAB 23/2/31, p. 2-3

[lxii] War Cabinet meeting 125, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/43, p. 2

[lxiii] War Cabinet meeting 125, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/43, p. 3-5

[lxiv] War Cabinet meeting 125, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/43, p. 2

[lxv] War Cabinet meeting 125, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/43, Appendix II, p. 8-9

[lxvi] Jellicoe to Beatty, 12 April 1917, #42 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., p. 156

[lxvii] Gibson and Prendergast, German Submarine War., p. 159

[lxviii] War Cabinet meeting 116, 9 April 1917, CAB 23/2/34, p. 5; War Cabinet meeting 117, 11 April 1917, CAB 23/2/35, p. 2-3; see also Jellicoe to Rear-Admiral W. S. Sims, 7 April 1917, #41 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., p. 155.

[lxix] War Cabinet meeting 115, 6 April 1917, CAB 23/2/33, p. 1

[lxx] Marder, FDSF, IV, pp. 274-5. See also, William Sims, The Victory at Sea (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2016)., p. 352-3

[lxxi] Jellicoe to Beatty, 17 March 1917, #36 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., p. 153

[lxxii] Jellicoe to Beatty, 24 March 1917, #37 in Temple Patterson., p. 153

[lxxiii] War Cabinet minutes 104, 26 March 1917, CAB 23/2/22, p. 3

[lxxiv] Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea., p. 135-41. Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1928., p. 373

[lxxv] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1928., p. 377-8. Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea., p. 137-8

[lxxvi] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 9, loc. 3221-50

[lxxvii] The Naval Who’s Who, 1917 (Polstead: J. B. Hayward & Son, 1981). p. 273

[lxxviii] Nicholas Black, The British Naval Staff In The First World War (Rochester: Boydell & Brewer Inc., 2011), p. 301

[lxxix] Marder, FDSF, IV, pp. 264. Patrick Beesly, Room 40: British Naval Intelligence 1914-1918 (London: Hamish Hamilton Ltd., 1982)., p. 254

[lxxx] Marder, FDSF, IV, pp. 264. Beesly., p. 254fn

[lxxxi] War Cabinet meeting 130, 2 May 1917, CAB 23/2/48, Appendix, p. 5

[lxxxii] Black, British Naval Staff., p. 34

[lxxxiii] Churchill, The World Crisis, 1915., chapter 15, loc. 5231

[lxxxiv] War Cabinet meeting 130, 2 May 1917, CAB 23/2/48, Appendix, p. 5; see also, Black, British Naval Staff., p. 248-9

[lxxxv] DASD Fisher to C-in-C Portsmouth, 21 July 1917, Bethell Papers (VII), LHCMA. See also, Abbatiello, Anti-Submarine Warfare, p. 113.

[lxxxvi] Jellicoe, The Submarine Peril., p. vii

[lxxxvii] Marder, FDSF., p. 118-9

[lxxxviii] Jellicoe, The Submarine Peril., p. xi

[lxxxix] Marder, FDSF, IV, pp. 268

[xc] Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., Chapter 10, loc. 1977

[xci] Temple Patterson., Chapter 10, loc. 2002

[xcii] Temple Patterson., Chapter 10, loc. 1984

[xciii] Temple Patterson., Chapter 10, loc. 1977-93

[xciv] Jellicoe to Beatty, 25 April 1917, #43 in Temple Patterson., p. 157 fn

[xcv] Jellicoe to Beatty, 25 April 1917, #43 in Temple Patterson., p. 157

[xcvi] Terraine, Business in Great Waters., Part 1, Chapter 3, loc. 1305

[xcvii] Duff to Jellicoe, 26 April 1917, #44 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., p. 157

[xcviii] Report of Admiralty meeting 23 February 1917, #34 in Temple Patterson., p. 149-51 & Jellicoe to Admiral Sir Frederick Hamilton, C-in-C Rosyth, 25 April 1917, #43 in Temple Patterson., p. 157

[xcix] War Cabinet meeting 124, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/42, p. 3; see also, Holger H. Herwig and Donald Trask, “The Failure of Imperial Germany’s Undersea Offensive Against World Shipping, February 1917 – October 1918,” The Historian 33, no. 4 (August 1971): 611–36., p. 614

[c] Rear-Admiral Duff to Jellicoe, 26 April 1917, #44 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., vol. 2, p. 158

[ci] Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 160

[cii] Rear-Admiral Duff to Jellicoe, 26 April 1917, #44 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., vol. 2, p. 159p.

[ciii] Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 159, 164

[civ] Jellicoe to Beatty, 12 April 1917, #42 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., p. 156

[cv] Maurice Hankey, The Supreme Command, 1914 – 1918, Kindle ebook, vol. 2, 2 vols. (New York: Routledge, 2014)., chapter 62, loc. 4257

[cvi] War Cabinet meeting 130, 2 May 1917, CAB 23/2/48, p. 3

[cvii] Marder, FDSF., IV, p. 275

[cviii] War Cabinet meeting 128, 1 May 1917, CAB 23/2/46, p. 2; War Cabinet meeting 130, 2 May 1917, CAB 23/2/48, p. 2

[cix] War Cabinet meeting 142, 22 May 1917, CAB 23/2/60, p. 2

[cx] War Cabinet meeting 156, 6 June 1917, CAB 23/3/3, p. 3

[cxi] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 54

[cxii] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., p. 43

[cxiii] Newbolt., V, p. 57-8

[cxiv] Newbolt., p. 43

[cxv] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 52-3

[cxvi] War Cabinet meeting 144, 23 May 1917, CAB 23/2/62, p. 7

[cxvii] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., p. 42

[cxviii] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 53

[cxix] Tarrant., p. 52

[cxx] Andreas Michelsen, Submarine Warfare, 1914-1918 (Miami: Trident Publishing, 2017)., p. 76, 78; see also, Herwig and Trask, “The Failure of Imperial Germany’s Undersea Offensive Against World Shipping, February 1917 – October 1918.”, p. 635

[cxxi] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 12, loc. 4190

[cxxii] Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 259

[cxxiii] Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 260-1

[cxxiv] Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 263

[cxxv] Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 261-2

[cxxvi] Jellicoe to Beatty, 2 April 1917, #39 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., p. 154-5

[cxxvii] John Jellicoe, The Crisis of the Naval War (London: Cassell and Company, Ltd, 1920)., Chapter III, p. 53-101

[cxxviii] Jellicoe, The Submarine Peril., p. 13

[cxxix] Marder, FDSF. IV, p. 286-7

[cxxx] Marder., IV, p. 226

[cxxxi] Marder., IV, p. 227-8

[cxxxii] Marder., IV, p. 233

[cxxxiii] Marder., IV, p. 228-9

[cxxxiv] Marder., IV, p. 271

[cxxxv] Howlett, “The Royal Naval Air Service and the Evolution of Naval Aviation in Britain, 1914 – 1918.”, p. 140; see also, John J. Abbatiello, Anti-Submarine Warfare in World War I: British Naval Aviation and the Defeat of the U-Boats (New York: Routledge, 2006)., Appendix I, p. 174

[cxxxvi] Dwight Messimer, Find and Destroy: Antisubmarine Warfare in World War I (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2001)., p. 134; Howlett, “The Royal Naval Air Service and the Evolution of Naval Aviation in Britain, 1914 – 1918.”, p. 116; see also, H. A. Williamson, “Employment of aeroplanes of Anti-Submarine Work”, 14 August 1918, AIR 1/642, #267 in Stephen Roskill, ed., Documents Relating to the Naval Air Service. Volume I, 1908-1918 (London: Spottiswoode, Ballantyne and Co. Ltd., 1969)., p. 703-4

[cxxxvii] War Cabinet minute 160, 11 June 1917, CAB 23/3/7, p. 2

[cxxxviii] War Cabinet minute 162, 13 June 1917, CAB 23/3/9, p. 4

[cxxxix] Marder, FDSF., IV, p. 282

[cxl] Marder., IV, p. 283,

[cxli] Marder., IV, p. 277

[cxlii] Marder., IV, p. 277

[cxliii] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 59

[cxliv] Marder, FDSF., IV, p. 276

[cxlv] Marder., IV, p. 276

[cxlvi] Steve R. Dunn, Southern Thunder: The Royal Navy and the Scandinavian Trade in World War One, Kindle ebook (Barnsley,: Seaforth Publishing, 2019). chapter 13, loc. 2882

[cxlvii] Reinhard Scheer, Germany’s High Sea Fleet in the World War, Kindle ebook (Shilka Publishing, 2013)., p. 378-81

[cxlviii] Dunn, Southern Thunder. chapter 13, loc. 2873-968

[cxlix] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 153-5

[cl] Newbolt., V, p. 168, et seq

[cli] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 12, loc. 4407-27

[clii] Scheer, High Sea Fleet., p. 381. Dunn says this is Commodore Heinrich.

[cliii] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 12, loc. 4499

[cliv] Scheer, High Sea Fleet., p. 383

[clv] Scheer., p. 383

[clvi] Dunn, Southern Thunder. chapter 14, loc. 3199, 3249;  Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 184-8.

[clvii] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 12, loc. 4518

[clviii] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 189.

[clix] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 12, loc. 4518; Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 190-2

[clx] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 12, loc. 4525

[clxi] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 198, 200-1

[clxii] Gibson and Prendergast, German Submarine War., p. 231

[clxiii] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 198

[clxiv] Newbolt., V, p. 198

[clxv] Newbolt., V, p. 199

[clxvi] Newbolt., V, p. 199

[clxvii] Newbolt., V, p. 200

[clxviii] Newbolt., V, p. 200

[clxix] Newbolt., V, p. 200

[clxx] Eberhard Moller and Werner Brack, The Encyclopedia of U-Boats From 1904 to the Present Day, trans. Andrea Battson and Roger Chesneau (London: Greenhill Books, 2004)., p. 47

[clxxi] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 208

[clxxii] Newbolt., V, p. 205

[clxxiii] Herwig and Trask, “The Failure of Imperial Germany’s Undersea Offensive Against World Shipping, February 1917 – October 1918.”, p. 622

[clxxiv] Stephen Roskill, “The Dismissal of Admiral Jellicoe,” Journal of Contemporary History 1, no. 4 (October 1966): 69–93.

[clxxv] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 204

[clxxvi] Figure 7.2 in Black, British Naval Staff., p. 230

[clxxvii] Arthur Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: Victory and Aftermath: 1918-1919, vol. 5, 5 vols. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2014)., p. 39-50.

[clxxviii] Marder., V, p. 41

[clxxix] Marder., V, p. 41

[clxxx] Marder., V, p. 41-2

[clxxxi] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 13, loc. 4822

[clxxxii] Scheer, High Sea Fleet., p. 386

[clxxxiii] Scheer., p. 387-8; see also, Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea., p. 171-4, Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 13, loc. 4879

[clxxxiv] Cecil Aspinall-Oglander, Roger Keyes (London: The Hogarth Press, 1951)., p. 222-53; see also, Lawrence Sondhaus, German Submarine Warfare in World War I: The Onset of Total War at Sea (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2017)., p. 179-80

[clxxxv] Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea., p. 191

[clxxxvi] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 13, loc. 5123; see also Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., p. 241-77

[clxxxvii] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 13, loc. 5186

[clxxxviii] Scheer, High Sea Fleet., p. 393

[clxxxix] Beesly, Room 40: British Naval Intelligence 1914-1918., p. 284-9

[cxc] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 13, loc. 5232

[cxci] Scheer, High Sea Fleet., p. 396, Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 13, loc. 5269

[cxcii] Howlett, “The Royal Naval Air Service and the Evolution of Naval Aviation in Britain, 1914 – 1918.”, p. 164

[cxciii] Abbatiello, Anti-Submarine Warfare., p. 75

[cxciv] Abbatiello., p. 76-7

[cxcv] Geoffrey Rossano and Thomas Wildenberg, Striking the Hornets’ Nest (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2015)., p. 140-1

[cxcvi] Howlett, “The Royal Naval Air Service and the Evolution of Naval Aviation in Britain, 1914 – 1918.”, p. 164-5

[cxcvii] Gibson and Prendergast, German Submarine War., p. 298. See also, Sondhaus, German Submarine Warfare., p. 168-9

[cxcviii] Sondhaus, German Submarine Warfare., p. 173-4

[cxcix] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 278-82

[cc] Sondhaus, German Submarine Warfare., p. 174

[cci] Sondhaus., p. 175

[ccii] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 69

[cciii] Tim Benbow, Naval Warfare 1914-1918, Kindle ebook, The History of World War I (London: Amber Books Ltd, 2011)., chapter 6, loc. 3344-8

[cciv] Michelsen, Submarine Warfare, 1914-1918., p. 78-9

[ccv] Gibson and Prendergast, German Submarine War., p. 324-5

[ccvi] Gibson and Prendergast., p. 328-9

[ccvii] Stephen Roskill, War at Sea, 1939 – 1945, Volume II: The Period of Balance, Kindle ebook, vol. 2, 4 vols., History of the Second World War (London: HMSO, 1956)., chapter IV, loc. 2353-95

[ccviii] Richard Woodman, “The Problems of Convoys, 1914-1917,” in Dreadnought to Daring: 100 Years of Comment, Controversy and Debate in The Naval Review, ed. Peter Hore (Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing, 2012), 53–66., p. 55-6

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England and the Closing of the Middle Ages: the Battle of Bosworth, 22 August 1485

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England and the Closing of the Middle Ages: the Battle of Bosworth, 22 August 1485

 

The death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth is the culminating event of the literary cycle, eight plays long, developed by William Shakespeare during the decade 1590-1600. The historical demise of Richard III on 22 August 1485, and the subsequent coronation of Henry Tudor as Henry VII, marked the conclusion of the bitter, century-long, dynastic struggle between Lancaster and York that has since become known as the War of the Roses. The cultural memory of those violent years of civil strife during the middle of the 15th century still haunts our modern imagination. What happened at Bosworth over a half millennium ago? How was it that the feudal contest was finally settled, and why is the outcome still discussed today?

The sequence of events that produced this watershed in English history is, however, shrouded in the fog of war. Tumultuous record keeping and aggressive propaganda during a period of devastating civil war has long obscured the events of the battle. Only in the last decade has modern battlefield archaeology been combined with systematic analysis of the source material to produce a scientific perspective on what happened on that epoch defining day in August more than 530 years ago. This post examines the military events of the battle, the dynastic political background, and the socioeconomic factors, that combined to ultimately bring to a close the Middle Ages in English history.

Henry Tudor’s victory at Bosworth began in England the process of consolidation and state formation that was already underway in France, Spain, and Central Europe. A cultural revolution was spreading across the continent, the result of more than 400 years of feudal warfare, as European societies were newly energized by the Humanist movement of northern Europe, and the Italian Renaissance in the Mediterranean. At the dawn of the 16th century England had become a unified kingdom, somewhat parochial and backward, but on the frontier of a new Age of Discovery.

The story of how the British Isles arrived at that point requires, first, looking back a thousand years to the end of Anglo-Saxon rule in Britain.

 

Part One: The Sons of Edward III & The Hundred Years War 

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King Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon ruler of England, was killed at the Battle of Hastings, 1066, as recorded by the Bayeux Tapestry. The death of Harold is the marker for a period, ultimately longer than 500 years, during which the Kings of England laid claim to a cross-Channel polity that connected the emerging Kingdoms of England and France.

 

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Territorial holdings of the Normans under King William in 1087, & the Angevin Empire inherited by King Henry II, in 1172.

The Kingdom administered by the successors of William the Conqueror slowly declined relative to its continental competitors. The Norman dynasty was soon eclipsed by the rising Plantagenet family, originating from the House of Anjou. In 1153 King Stephen the Norman was forced to recognize Henry of Anjou as his heir designate, formalized by the Treaty of Westminster. When Stephen died the following year, Henry Plantagenet inherited the English crown as Henry II. 88 years had passed since the death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings.

 

reversal

After Henry II’s death in 1189, Philip II Auguste, the Capetian, over the course of his 43 year-long reign, reconquered most of the Angevin territory in France. England retained only Aquitaine (Gascony) when Philip II died in 1223.

 

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Louis IX (r. 1226 – 1270), Philip III (r. 1270 – 1285) and Philip IV (r. 1285 – 1314) consolidated France’s state lands for nearly 90 years. England, meanwhile, was weakened by internal strife, exemplified by the Second Baron’s War (1264 – 1267) during the reign of Henry III (r. 1216 – 1272), followed by the struggles with Scotland and Wales during the reigns of Edward I (r. 1272 – 1307) and Edward II (r. 1307 – 1327).

 

Edward III, painted in the late 16th c.

On 24 May 1337, 271 years after Hastings, King Philip VI declared Aquitaine forfeit, a major blow to Edward III who was also Duke of Aquitaine and thus heir to the Plantagenet family’s claims in France. Edward formally set claim to the French throne on 6 July 1339.

 

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Top: Battle of Crecy, 26 August 1346. Lower: Battle of Poitiers, 19 September 1356, by Eugene Delacroix, 1830.

Edward III and his son Edward the Black Prince invaded France and won decisive victories at Crecy, in August 1346, and at Poitiers, in September 1356. Edward eventually settled for the Treaty of Bretigny and recognition of England’s dominion over Gascony.

 

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English holdings in France after Edward III secured the treaties of Bretigny, 8 May 1360, and Calais, 24 October 1360. Charles V (r. 1364 – 1380) of France rolled back the English conquests, and by 1380 the land holdings of Edward’s successor Richard II (r. 1377 – 1399) had been reduced to only the rump of Bordeaux and Calais.

 

Lineage of Henry III Plantagenet and the houses of Lancaster and York.

 

The century long succession struggle that culminated in the Wars of the Roses originated, in its immediate sense, with Edward III’s sons. Edward’s first son, the Prince of Wales, Edward the Black Prince, the Earl of Chester and Duke of Cornwall, was heir to Edward’s claim as King of both England and France. The Black Prince died before Edward III, however, and upon the King’s death in 1377 the throne passed to the Prince of Wales’ son, Richard II.

Richard II, son of the Black Prince, engraving by George Vertue, 1718

The new King was surrounded by his uncles, although his eldest uncle, Edward’s second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp, the Duke of Clarence, died in 1368 to be succeeded by his only daughter, Phillippa.

John of Gaunt (Ghent) was Edward’s third son, holder of the Duchy of Lancaster, with estates in Derby, Leicester and Lincoln. Thomas of Woodstock, the Duke of Gloucester, was the youngest son of Edward III, held estates in Buckingham, Northampton and Essex.[i] Edmund of Langley was fourth, the Duke of York, whose descendants would inherit Lionel of Antwerp’s claim (and estates) through the marriage of his son, Richard the Earl of Cambridge, to Anne Mortimer, daughter of Phillippa, the Countess of Ulster. Their son, born in 1411, was Richard Plantagenet, the father of two kings, Edward IV and Richard III.

The struggle for power became apparent in 1388 when Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, with the support of John of Gaunt’s son, the Earl of Derby, assembled with the Earls of Arundel, Nottingham and Warwick, and mobilized against the 23 year-old King’s supporters. Richard II’s circle of power included the archbishop of York, the Duke of Ireland, the Earl of Suffolk, and Sirs Robert Tresilian and Nicholas Brembre.[ii] This force, under the Duke of Ireland, was defeated by Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, at Oxfordshire, resulting in the King’s virtual subjugation to his powerful uncle. Richard’s followers, including Lord Beauchamp of Holt, Sir Simon Burley, Sir James Berners and John Salisbury, were all purged, being arbitrarily condemned for high treason.

 

John of Gaunt (Ghent), Duke of Lancaster & Aquitaine, by George Yate, c. early 17th century. Effigy of Edmund of Langley, First Duke of York, at Westminster Abbey. & Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, engraving by Richard Godfrey, 1776.

 

Richard II however succeeded at expelling Gloucester’s various supporters from his Royal Council, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was Chancellor, the Bishop of Hereford, the Treasurer, and the Earl of Arundel, who was High Admiral. The Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Gloucester himself were both reduced in power and status.[iii] A general pardon was issued by Parliament and then proclaimed by the King (except for the Duke of Ireland) to normalize government affairs, and soon the powerful Duke of Lancaster, who had been overseas attempting to promote his claim to the throne of Castile, returned to England. In 1396 a 25-year truce was arranged between England and France, and Richard, in a royal arrangement with the French court, married Charles Valois daughter, Isabella, then only seven years old.

By 1397 the Duke of Gloucester was conspiring for war with France, a position that put him at odds with Richard II’s peaceful policy. With the support of the Dukes of Lancaster and York, as well as their sons, the Earls of Derby and Rutland, Gloucester was arrested and conveyed to Calais where he was unceremoniously executed. Parliament was elected along lines more favourable to Richard and the pardons previously issued were annulled. Gloucester’s chief lieutenants, the Earls of Arundel and Warwick were likewise arrested, the former executed afterwards. Warwick was banished to the Isle of Man.[iv]

In 1398, with his power waning, and his former allies turning against him, Richard banished the Duke of Lancaster’s son, Henry Bolingbroke, and when the Duke died in 1399, the King attempted to confiscate all of his Lancastrian property. At this delicate juncture Richard II made the mistake of departing for a campaign in Ireland, enabling Henry Bloingbroke, the Lancastrian, to land at Ravenspur, Yorkshire, with a contingent of 60, including the Earl of Arundel. Within days their force was swollen by reinforcements. Now supported by the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland,[v] the Duke of York opened London’s gates to his nephew Lancaster, and when Richard II returned from Ireland he was confronted by Henry’s party, led by Northumberland, and captured.

 

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Henry of Bolingbroke, afterwards Henry IV (r. 1399 – 1413), c. late 16th century.

 

On 30 September Henry, claiming descent from Henry III, was crowned Henry IV, King of England. Parliament, with no other realistic options, recognized Henry as the legitimate monarch, disavowing the deposed Richard II, who died a prisoner the following year, possibly starved to death by Henry IV, at the age of 34.

Henry quickly rid himself of Richard’s supporters and in 1400 the Earls of Rutland (Albermarle), Kent (Surrey), Huntingdon (Exeter), Lord Spenser (Gloucester), Salisbury and Lord Lumley, were all executed, save for Rutland, the future Duke of York, who betrayed and murdered Lord Spenser in a demonstration of loyalty to Henry IV.[vi] The Earl of Worcester was despatched to maintain order in Gascony, although the French made little effort to take advantage of the disorder in England.

Battle of Shrewsbury, 21 July 1403, illustrated by Thomas Pennant in 1781.

 

In 1402, Henry Percy (Hotspur), with support from the Earls of Northumberland (his father), Worcester and Douglas, raised an army to oppose Henry IV. Percy and Douglas were met by Henry IV at Shrewsbury on 21 July 1403, where in bloody fighting their armies were destroyed and Percy slain. Worcester, after his capture, was executed, although Douglas was given quarter due to his great status and past service. Northumberland, upon hearing of his son’s death, disbanded his army and traveled to York where he met with King Henry, who granted a royal pardon, although Henry Percy’s recantation was not to last long.[vii]

 

Henry Percy, father of Hotspur, the Earl of Northumberland, engraving by R. Clamp, 1792

 

In 1405 the Earl of Nottingham and the Archbishop of York, with the Earl of Northumberland’s support, rebelled against the King. These rebels were captured by the Earl of Westmoreland and their executions ordered by Henry. Northumberland fled to Scotland from where he conducted raids into England. It was on one such adventure into Yorkshire that Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland, was slain in 1407.[viii]

Having consolidated his power, Henry IV began to increase his interest in foreign affairs. In 1411 he sent forces to support the Dukes of Burgundy and Orleans against the King of France. When Henry IV died in 1413, his son, Henry the Prince of Wales, carried on his mission.

 

Henry V, engraving, c. 18th century. & Catherine of Valois, engraving by Silvester Harding, 1792. Ascending to the throne in 1413, Henry V attempted to end the war by forcing the outright military conquest of France. His victory at Agincourt, 25 October 1415, decisively weakened France in the struggle against England and Burgundy, and in his second campaign in 1418 succeeded in annexing Normandy.

Henry V’s objectives were multifaceted. First, he sought to reverse the conquests of Phillip Augustus, second, in doing so, to assert his legitimacy through the adoption of Edward III’s mission to acquire for England the Kingdom of France. Third, the best means of securing this arrangement, would be the English King’s marriage to Charles VI’s daughter, Catherine, at cost of 2 million crowns. Another 1.6 million crowns would be paid on the outstanding debt owed for King Jean’s 14th century ransom.[ix] Through these means, military and matrimonial, Henry V sought to secure his claim to the thrones of England and France.

 

Descendants of Edward III

 

Weakness in the French crown made concessions possible. Henry’s diplomatic objective was merely to stall for time while he marshalled his forces. Before he could embark on his campaign of conquest, Henry ordered the executions of the traitorous Lord Scrope of Masham, Sir Thomas Grey of Heton, and Earl of Cambridge (father of Richard of York), the plotters of the infamous Southampton plot to assassinate Henry before he embarked for France.

 

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Modern illustration of southampton in 1415, & Royal army transported across the Channel, from Froissart’s Chroniques, c. 1480.

 

With England secure behind him the King departed on 11 August, landing in Normandy three days later and marching against the port of Harfleur, immediately placed under siege on the 19th of August. A month of bombardment from Henry’s siege artillery forced the port to surrender, but this effort had absorbed most of the fall campaign season.[x] Henry, with his supply lines at Harfleur reduced to only a trickle, now determined to make for Calais. This base was far more secure than Harfleur, nearly impervious to French attack by land or sea, where he could draw on stockpiled supplies over the winter and prepare for further activity the following spring.[xi] Victualing as they raided through the Norman country side en route, Henry was however outmaneuvered by a large French army under the command of the Constable D’Albert who now blocked the approach to Calais.

 

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Henry V’s 1415 campaign

 

Henry in effect had attempted to repeat Edward III’s 1346 campaign, with the expected result that the French would confront him near the conclusion. With the French army blocking the road to Calais, Henry had no choice but battle. In the ensuing battle at Agincourt, 25 October 1415, the French were foolish enough to play into Henry’s offensive-defensive tactics, and were cut down by massed longbow arrows amidst confined and muddy ground that rendered the French cavalry useless.[xii] Although the Duke of York and Earl of Suffolk were both slain in the battle, the French, a number of whose prisoners Henry had ordered killed during a moment of crisis,[xiii] suffered far greater losses in men and nobles, amongst whom were the Dukes of Alencon, Bar, Brabant, Admiral Jacques de Chatillon, and Counts of Marle, Vaudemont, Blamont, Roucy, Dammartin, Vaucourt, Fauquembergue, Nevers, and others, including the Constable D’Albert and 1,500 knights.[xiv] Captured by Henry were the Dukes of Orleans, Bourbon, and the Counts Vendome, Richemont and d’Eu.[xv]

 

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Agincourt

Henry’s position and approach at Agincourt, from Oman, England and the Hundred Years War, Chapter 10, & Keegan, Face of Battle, p. 64.

 

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Renderings of the Battle of Agincourt 25 October 1415; from St. Alban’s Chronicle by Thomas Walsingham, c. 15th century. & Enguerrand de Monstrelet’s 15th century miniature.

 

Although this initial campaign had met with the luck of tactical success at Agincourt,[xvi] with long-term implications for the stability of the French crown, Henry was actually faced with operational defeat. His expeditionary army had been reduced by disease and lack of supplies, and then exhausted by a long and difficult march culminating in the slaughter at Agincourt. Henry thus withdrew from the continent on 16 November. Less than a year later, on 15 August 1416, Henry’s eldest brother the Duke of Bedford defeated a Franco-Genoese fleet in the Channel in a battle near Harfleur, capturing three of the enemy’s eight carracks in the process.[xvii] On 25 July 1417 the Earl of Huntingdon won another important naval battle in the Bay of the Seine, capturing a further four Genoese carracks and effectively winning control of the sea for the English, clearing Henry’s supply lines for a second invasion.[xviii] The French nation was soon at its weakest point. Invaded by the Duke of Burgundy, with Charles VI increasingly delusional, the death of his elder sons left only the seventeen year-old Dauphin, Charles, as heir to the throne.

 

The Treaty of Troyes, 21 May 1420, as ratified by the Estates-General, proclaimed Henry V Lancaster, and his heirs, as inheritors of the throne of France.

 

Henry took advantage of this situation to land another army in 1418. Henry maintained negotiations with the Duke of Burgundy to arrange for the return of the territory ceded to Edward III by the Treaty of Bretigny (1360), however, the Duke was himself negotiating with the Dauphin in opposition to Henry, and, although progress was being made, the Duke was assassinated by the Dauphin’s men in 1419. The Duke’s successor, Phillip, Count of Charolais, now changed sides to support Henry’s claim and a treaty between the two was concluded at Arras, with Henry, Gloucester, and Clarence, meeting the Duke at Troyes.[xix] Henry’s marriage to Charles VI’s daughter, Catherine of Valois, soon followed, and upon entering Paris the Estates-General ratified the treaty of Troyes. Henry left Paris under guard of the Duke of Exeter and departed to suppress the Dauphin, whose supporters rejected Henry’s claim.

 

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The conquests of Henry V & English holdings and alliances in France after the Treaty of Troyes, 1420, & European political map c. 1422

 

Henry VI, engraving, c. 18th century.

 

Henry V died on 31 August 1422 and hardly two months later Charles VI was dead, leaving the combined Anglo-Franco crown to nine month old Henry VI.[xx] The Kingdom was placed under a regency headed by Henry VI’s oldest uncle, the Duke of Bedford, while responsibility for England went his youngest uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. The Bishop of Winchester, son of John of Gaunt, would act as Henry VI’s tutor. The English military was led by able generals, including the Earls of Somerset, Warwick, Salisbury, Suffolk, Arundel and knights including Sir John Talbot and Sir John Fastolf.[xxi] Meanwhile Catherine, Henry V’s widow, married Sir Owen Tudor and with him had two sons, Edmund, Earl of Richmond, and Jasper, the Earl of Pembroke.

 

John of Lancaster, the Duke of Bedford, Regent to Henry VI. Humphrey, his brother, Duke of Gloucester, & Henry Beaufort the Bishop of Winchester, son of John of Gaunt, Henry VI’s tutor. Although Henry VI was crowned King of France in Paris on 16 December 1431, the Dauphin, who by then had been crowned Charles VII, continued to fight a determined campaign to oppose the English and their Burgundian allies.

 

Bedford continued the conquest of France, winning the decisive battle at Verneuil, 17 August 1424.

 

Although final victory was within sight, a poorly timed campaign by the Duke of Gloucester against Holland and Brabant diverted forces that should have been sent to support Bedford and he was forced to return to England, where he discovered further disunion. The Bishop of Winchester had consolidated power around himself. As a result of these affairs, the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany began to withdraw their support for England. In France in 1426, meanwhile, the Count of Donois succeeded in raising Warwick’s siege of Montargis, signalling the beginning of a series of reversals that within thirty years would lead to England’s defeat in the Hundred Years War.

 

Orleans in 1428-9, by Anatole France. 

 

In 1428 Bedford despatched the Earl of Salisbury to lay siege to Orleans. Realizing that Orleans would become the focal point of resistance to the English invasion (similar in significance to Verdun nearly a half millennium later), the Dauphin rushed in reinforcements. Salisbury was killed by a cannon ball during the siege and replaced by Suffolk. Sir John Fastolf was able to reinforce the English, despite intervention by Dunois.

The Duke of Burgundy, the alliance with England slipping as a result of a disagreement with Bedford, recalled his forces from the siege and thus dramatically weakened the English position. The timely arrival of Joan of Arc invigorated the French forces, and Suffolk was captured in a side-action. The English were successfully expelled from Orleans, an operation that was complete by 8 May 1429. The English forces remaining were under the command of Fastolf, Scales and Talbot who now hastened their retreat, the latter two were captured, and Fastolf was stripped of his knighthood for cowardice.

 

Joan of Arc enters Orleans, by Jean-Jacques Scherrer, 1887.

 

map14a

France in 1430, from E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century.

 

The Dauphin Charles now hastened to Rheims, chasing the English as they fled before him, and was there crowned Charles VII on 17 July 1429, effectively nullifying the Treaty of Troyes from the French perspective. Militarily the war was not yet over, and Bedford was able to prevent Charles from regaining the capital. Bedford now invested Henry VI with the crown of France.

 

charlesVII

Phillip III, the Good, Duke of Burgundy. & Charles VII of France, painted by Jean Fouquet, c. 1445 – 1450.

The Burgundian capture and ransom of Joan of Arc to the English was a minor coup, although her witchcraft trial and execution only served to martyr the French heroine. Bedford’s position in France was weakening, his credit reserves nearly exhausted, and with his allies turning against him, he died on 14 September 1435. Eight days later Charles VII, King of France, and Phillip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, signed the Treaty of Arras, sealing the fate of Bedford’s decades long struggle to complete his brother’s conquest of France.

Gloucester and the Bishop of Winchester quickly consolidated power, only for the Duke of York to slip through their fingers and emerge as the Protector of the Kingdom. When York returned to France he found that Paris had turned against England, and Burgundy was laying siege to Calais. Gloucester raised the siege of Calais, and Talbot was promoted Earl of Shrewsbury. York’s continuation of Bedford’s policy was noble, but the cause was lost, the nail in the coffin symbolized by the death of Warwick, the Lieutenant of France, in 1439. Richard Duke of York arranged a truce with Burgundy, and in 1443 the Earl of Suffolk began negotiations with Charles VII. These laudable acts of diplomacy resulted in the Treaty of Tours, 28 May 1444, by which Henry VI would marry Margaret of Anjou, a Princess descending from ancient Frankish crusading families whose father was titular King of Naples and of the Templar kingdom of Jerusalem. Henry and Margaret were married on 23 April 1445, ensuring the maintenance of peace until 1446.[xxii]

 

Margaret of Anjou, who, by her marriage to Henry VI (24 years-old) as a result of the Treaty of Tours in May 1445, became Queen of England at the age of 15. Reproduced here in George Goodwin, Fatal Colours: Towton 1461 (2011).

 

caen

Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, negotiating his surrender at Rouen, 1449 & the Siege of Caen, 1450, from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Reproduced in George Goodwins, Fatal Colours: Towton 1461 (2011). Cannons notable.

 

With the crown unable to bankroll the cost of maintaining England’s position in France, Somerest, the new Lieutenant of France, had the disappointing duty of overseeing the collapse of the war effort as the half century approached. The French invaded and conquered Normandy, although Somerset was allowed to withdraw to Harfleur after he arranged to pay 56,000 crowns in ransom for his surrender at Rouen.[xxiii] Cherbourg fell in December 1450, and then Dunois led the inevitable invasion of English Gascony. This string of victories reasserted the status quo as established by the conquests of Charles V eighty years prior.

 

Castilon.jpg

The death of John Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury, at Castillon, 17 July 1453, illustrated manuscript by Martial d’Auvergne (c. 1493). Note presence of cannons. With the English now retaining only Calais, this battle finalized England’s defeat in the Hundred Years War. Constantinople had fallen to the Turks only a month before on 29 May. 387 years had passed since King Harold died at the Battle of Hastings.

 

oldmen

 

france_1453.jpg

Paris 1460.jpg

National consolidation: France in 1453, when only Calais remained in English possession, & cosmopolitan Paris in 1460.

 

Part Two: Wars of the Roses, Lancaster & York, 1453 – 1485 

London2

Illustration of London from Charles d’Orleans poetry, c. 1450 – 1500, looking west from the Tower towards the customs house and London Bridge. Reproduced in Alison Weir, The Princes in the Tower (1999).

 

France Map2

map10

France, with York & Lancastrian estates in England between 1455 – 85. England during the Wars of the Roses. Map of English Counties, & Landholdings of the principal noble families of England and Wales in c. 1450, from E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century.

lecture

readinghernyVIadmin

Book printing, literacy, and the legal system all flourished during Henry VI’s reign. Note the number of clerks processing legal writs. Based on Gutenberg’s movable type press, mass publication spread from Bravia, where it was invented in the 1450s, to Nuremberg, Cologne, Paris, Venice, and Rome, before reaching London around 1470. Sir Thomas Malory’s Arthurian epic Le Morte D’arthur appeared post-humously on 31 July 1485, published by Claxton’s press. The feudal era in Britain was thawing as Humanism spread from the Renaissance in Italy and Flanders.

 

Cloth exports surpassed wool as pastoral commodities were purchased for textile production. England’s textile craft industry heralded a rise in living standards for the artisanal class and was tightly controlled by the English crown.

 

Stages of medieval cloth production; agrarian decline leads to rise in pastoralism. Sheep rearing, wool shearing, weaving on the loom, dyeing, tailoring, and sale of the finished products at market.

 

markets

Despite frequent markets across Great Britain, Wales in the west and Yorkshire in the north remained relatively sparsely populated. Populations were concentrated in the London area and in coastal townships dotting the English coast; from Fernand Braudel, The Wheels of Commerce (2002).

 

street

market

prices2

prices1

Over all currency deflation in this period caused by peak silver conditions in Europe, combined with the introduction of gold as a specie supplement, conspired to keep wages low, despite labour scarcity resulting from the Black Death (1347-51). Wages and prices remained remarkably stable from the reigns of Richard II to Richard III, as the nation slowly grew and its war-debt  was repaid over the course of a century. Note price inflation in the 1431-40 decade, when England was financing distant siege operations and ultimately losing the war in France. Commodities were sold cheaply but in bulk, and merchants were getting rich on export trade. Life expectancy remained low while the wealth and power of the landed nobility increased until the largest land and title holders determined the fate of kings. See, Christopher Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: the People of Britain, 850-1520 (Yale University Press, 2013), p. 266-8. Diagrams from E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century (1993), p. 383 et seq

 

armour

Blacksmithing & armouring in the 14th and 15th centuries

The cost and complexity of warfare continued to increase. The proliferation of gunpowder weapons and increase in cost and sophistication of body-armour was beginning to revolutionize battle. The immense expense of a century of warfare had accumulated to the point that Henry VI, after the loss of Castillion, had no choice but to recognize defeat in France. The national debt had grown to the figure of £372,000, an immense sum, considering that Henry V’s pre-invasion income amounted to only £55,700 per annum.[xxiv]

French, Italian or Gothic-type full-plate men-at-arms and knight’s armour, popular between 1450-1500.

Late 15th c. organ-gun and cannon. Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, Figure 7.31. Burgundian-type cannons, including organ guns, were popular in Flanders and with Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. The Duke had deployed large siege trains during his disastrous Swiss campaign of 1476.

 

Illustration of the Battle of Grandson, made c. 1515

 

Cannons had first been introduced into European arsenals in the middle of the 14th century. Over the following century the European monarchs accumulated a variety of handguns, arquebuses, field guns and siege cannons. At Castillon in July 1453, French artillery had outranged John Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and inflicted a disastrous defeat for the English that effectively terminated the Hundred Years War. Seventy-two years later at the battle of Pavia in 1525, pike, field cannon and the arquebus had become the decisive instrument in battle.

 

The Wars of the Roses occurred during a transitional phase in Europe’s military history. New weapons, such as handguns and field cannon, and rediscovered tactics, such as pike and halberd formations, reduced the importance of heavy cavalry and emphasized the renewed importance of mobile infantry. Battle of Pavia tapestry woven in Brussels, c. 1528-31.

 

Wars of the Roses Genealogy, the descendants of the Henry V

 

map11

Castles of England and battles of the Wars of the Roses, from E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century.

 

Richard Plantagenet, the son of Anne Mortimer (great-granddaughter of Lionel of Antwerp) and Richard Earl of Cambridge. As Duke of York, Richard had claim to the throne through Edward III’s line from his second son Lionel, Duke of Clarence. In Ireland, the star of York was rising as Somerset’s was falling in Normandy.

Richard’s father, the Earl of Cambridge, had been executed at the order of Henry V for charge of treason as a member of the Southampton plot of 1415. Richard’s descent from Edward III’s second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp, made his claim to the throne more immediate than Henry VI’s, whose grandfather Henry Bolingbroke was descended from John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of Edward III. Richard’s interests were advanced by his brother-in-law, the Earl of Salisbury and by the Earl of Warwick, both of the family Neville. For its part the Lancastrian claim was generally supported by the Earls of Westmoreland, Shrewsbury and Northumberland, and by the Duke of Somerset, Edmund Beaufort, Henry Holland, the Duke of Exeter, and the Duke of Buckingham.[xxv]

 

Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, father of Richard, 6th Earl of Salisbury.

neville

Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, 6th Earl of Salisbury, the Kingmaker. 16th c.

 

In 1452 Richard, eager to assert his claim and with his power solidified, led an army against London where he was met by the King. Unsupported by Warwick and Salisbury, on this occasion, Richard was dismissed by the King and forced to retreat to Wigmore on the border of Wales. Richard did not have to wait long, as the death of Shrewsbury and the final loss of Gascony in 1453 weakened the crown such that in 1454 Henry was forced to agree to concessions and promote Richard to Lieutenant of the Kingdom, a power soon confirmed by Parliament.[xxvi] Resistance from the Lancastrian faction was crushed by Warwick and Salisbury on 22 May 1455 at the First Battle of St. Albans. Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, Henry Percy the Earl of Northumberland, and the Earl of Stafford were all slain.

 

First Battle of St. Albans, 22 May 1455, York in red, Lancaster in blue.

This was such a disaster for the Lancastrian forces that Henry VI was forced to agree to all of York’s demands, which effectively amount to his promotion to Protector of the Realm, until the coronation of Edward, the Prince of Wales. Although Henry, with Margaret’s support, was able to moderate Richard’s power, the Duke of York’s claim was now too strong to be realistically opposed.

The Queen, established in Cheshire, and supported by the new Duke of Somerset, rallied support to her cause.[xxvii] Warwick, however, with the fleet now unified under his command, landed at Sandwich in Kent with a force led by Sir John Blount and Andrew Trollop. Warwick reached London on 21 September and made his start towards Ludlow where he was to rendezvous with Salisbury and Edward, the Earl of Marche, son of Richard of York.

Margaret summoned Lord Stanley to raise his force and join the King who was at Eccleshall Castle. The Lancastrian army on this occasion was led by James Touchet, Lord Audley, supported by Lord Dudley, although nominally under the authority of the Prince of Wales. This force was to intercept Salisbury before he could join forces with York or Warwick. Salisbury had with him between 3,000 – 4,000 men, mainly spearmen and some cannon, and was outnumbered by Audley with between 6,000 – 12,000, including quality archers but also many conscripts.[xxviii] Salisbury, in a strong defensive position supported by cannon, won a victory over Audley at Blore Heath on 23 September 1459, in which 2,000 Lancastrian soldiers were killed and Audley himself was overtaken and slain.

 

Blore

Battle of Blore Heath, 23 September 1459

 

This was sour news for Margaret, although the sting of defeat was somewhat lessened when Salisbury left his cannon on the field and withdrew, the cannon captured shortly afterwards by Margaret’s main force, as were Salisbury’s sons, Thomas and Sir John Neville.

Salisbury nevertheless made his connection with Warwick at Ludlow, where the Duke of York was scheduled to join them. Already assembled were the Earls Somerset, Northumberland, with Lords Buckingham, Egremont, Exeter, Devon, Arundel, Shrewsbury, Wiltshire and Beaumont.[xxix] The Yorkist force perhaps numbered as many as 25,000 men, about half the size of the Royal army’s 40,000 – 60,000. York was further frustrated by the defection of a number of his Calais veterans, in particular Sir Andrew Trollop.[xxx]

York, Warwick and Salisbury, recognizing the weakness of their position, deserted their army on 13 October and fled, leaving Ludlow Castle, along with Richard’s wife the Duchess Cecily Neville, to be captured by the Royal force. York fled once again to Ireland. Warwick, March and Salisbury had by November retired to Calais where they began a campaign of piracy against the lucrative Channel wool and textile trade. On 20 November Margaret arranged for a Parliament at Coventry, in which all the Yorkist commanders were declared guilty of high treason. Somerset sailed with a small force to harass Warwick and impose an embargo on Calais and succeeded in capturing a castle near Calais, although Warwick captured the new Lord Audley, and Humphrey Stafford, in the process.[xxxi] Over the winter Lord Rivers assembled a fleet to invade Calais, but on 15 January Sir John Dynham raided Sandwich and captured Rivers and his ships, hauling them off to Calais, another demonstration of the importance of sea control during the 15th century.

In March 1460 Warwick sailed to Ireland to join with York, while Somerset made another effort to capture Calais, but was defeated at Newham Bridge. Pressure was maintained on the Yorkist forces when the Duke of Exeter was made Admiral of England and given fifteen ships. On 25 May he sailed to intercept Warwick but was unsure of the loyalty of his men and so put in at Dartmouth, leaving the channel to Warwick, lately returned to Calais. In June Warwick raided Sandwich and captured the entire Lancastrian fleet (see N. A. M. Rodger, Safeguard of the Sea, p. 153). On 26 June Warwick, Salisbury and March, with 2,000 men, landed at Sandwich and on the 27th entered Canterbury. On 2 July London threw open its gates to the Yorkist force.

Warwick marched north with an entourage that included Lord Fauconberg, Edward Earl of March, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishops of Ely, Exeter, Rochester, Lincoln and Salisbury, and the papal legate Coppini – who carried a letter from Pope Pius II urging Henry VI to accept the Yorkist demands.[xxxii] Salisbury, Cobham and Wenlock, with 2,000 men, were left in London to finish the siege of the Tower.

Rome

Rome in the 15th century. Papal intervention attempted to moderate the conflict, evidence of ongoing international diplomacy.

 

Henry VI marshalled his forces under the Duke of Buckingham, and then departed to march on Northampton. The Royal army blocked the road from London with their cannon and prepared other defensive measures in anticipation of Warwick, who promptly arrived at Northampton on 10 July. Warwick attempted to bargain with Henry through the Bishop of Salisbury and papal legate Coppini, but was rebuffed. Warwick’s force was double the size of the King’s, who is said to have marshalled 20,000 men, but did not receive the full reinforcements he expected.

Edward, Earl of March, led Warwick’s vanguard, supported by Lord Scrope, with Fauconberg in the rear. Lord Grey de Ruthin commanded Henry’s vanguard, but had been promised concessions if he were to desert and join Warwick. In the event the Royal cannon were inundated with rain and so rendered useless, although the Lancastrian archers inflicted many casualties.[xxxiii]

 

Battle of Northampton, 10 July 1460

 

Lord Grey’s treachery and the loss of several thousand men in battle was a blow to the Lancastrian war effort. Lord de la Warre and the Earl of Kendal switched sides, joining the Yorkist cause.[xxxiv] The Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewsbury, Lords Beaumont and Egremont and Sir William Lucie were all slain, while the Royal Personage, Henry VI himself, was captured. Proceeding to Westminster, Warwick, with Henry VI in tow, entered London on 16 July and soon forced Lord Scales to surrender the Tower, during which that Lancastrian commander was captured and murdered while attempting escape.

Queen Margaret, with her young son Edward, escaped to Wales where they met Jasper Tudor at Harlech Castle. From there Maragret proceeded to Denbigh Castle where she was joined by Exeter and Pembroke. She wrote to Somerset and Devon to raise an army, while she sailed to Scotland to meet with Queen Mary of Gueldres, who was sympathetic to the Lancastrian cause and made arrangements for the Earls Douglas and Angus to support Margaret.

York now returned from Ireland, landing near Chester in Wales on 8 September 1460. He collected his wife, the Duchess Cecily, who had been freed after the Battle of Northampton. Together they marched to London and arrived on 10 October, in time for the meeting of Parliament. Although Parliament approved further concessions they did not completely endorse Richard’s claim to the throne.

By the Act of Settlement (“of Accord”) of 24 October 1460, Henry VI was to remain as King, although power of governance was completely vested in the Duke of York, who, or his sons, it was determined, would inherit the kingdom upon Henry VI’s death. The attainders against York were reversed, he was made Protector of England, while Lord Bourchier was made Treasurer and Warwick’s brother George was made Bishop of Exeter and Chancellor.[xxxv]

Margaret was naturally infuriated by these developments and soon marched south to join with her allies. Her army when it reached Yorkshire numbered 20,000, under the generalship of Somerset, Northumberland, Devon, Exeter and Clifford. Margaret issued a challenge to Richard to settle his claim by force of arms.

York, raiding the Tower Arsenal for cannon to take with him and with about 5,000 – 6,000 men, left Warwick in charge of the capital and hastened out of London on 9 December with his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and the Earl of Salisbury, to confront Margaret.

 

Sandal Castle

sandal_castle_plan

Sandal Castle, a traditional holding of the York family, granted from Edward III to Lionel of Antwerp, reputed to be both formidable and luxurious.

Richard’s force is said to have swollen to 12,000 when he arrived at Sandal Castle on 21 December, although this, like most military figures for the period, is likely an exaggeration. York most likely intended to await the arrival of his son Edward with reinforcements. The Lancastrians however deployed a significantly larger force, increased by the desertion of Lord Neville with 8,000 men who joined Margaret.

Outnumbered and with supplies dwindling, Richard, for reasons that have never been completely explained, rode from the castle with his vanguard and was immediately surrounded by the Lancastrians.[xxxvi] The Duke of York, 50 years of age, and 1,000 – 2,000 of his men, including Sir Thomas Neville, Sir Thomas Parr and Sir Edward Bourchier, were therefore destroyed at the Battle of Wakefield, 30 December 1460. Edmund, Earl of Rutland, was handed over to Lord Clifford, who murdered him.[xxxvii] Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, was captured and executed.[xxxviii]

 

Battle of Wakefield, by Graham Turner for Osprey©, where Richard of York met his demise on 30 December 1460.

The death of Salisbury, Warwick’s father, resulted in Warwick inheriting that wealthy Earl’s land, effectively doubling the size of Warwick’s holdings and making him by far the wealthiest man in the Kingdom. Edward, the 18 year-old Earl of March, now inherited his father’s title as Duke of York, making him heir to the throne by the Act of Accord. Edward’s brothers, George and Richard, were sent to Burgundy to live under the protection of Duke Phillip, although the widowed Duchess of York remained in London.[xxxix]

Margaret, who had wintered in Scotland and signed an agreement with Queen Mary by which Edward the Prince of Wales was to be married to Mary’s daughter, Margaret Stewart, now despatched Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, alongside James Butler, Earl of Whiltshire, and Sir Owen Tudor, to defeat Edward while she took the main force to London to confront Warwick.

 

Second Battle of St. Albans, Henry VI is re-captured by the Lancastrian forces in their greatest victory.

 

At the Second Battle of St. Albans, 17 February 1461, Margaret’s force, led by Exeter, Somerset, Devon, Shrewsbury, Northumberland, Clifford, Grey, Roos, and Sir Trollop, defeated Warwick’s army, led by Norfolk, Suffolk, Arundel, Lords Fauconberg, Bourchier and Bonville. Warwick’s army included 500 Burgundian archers, various mercenaries, crossbowman and indeed some handgunners firing ribaudkins in addition to a few cannon.[xl] Prior to the battle Sir Henry Lovelace, who had been Warwick’s steward and in command of his vanguard but had promised his loyalty to Henry VI, deserted the Yorkists. Falling snow negated Warwick’s advantage in gunpowder (although not in archers, who inflicted many casualties on the Lancastrians), and the King was re-captured by Margaret while Warwick was forced to flee. A number of Warwick’s supporters were captured and executed, including Lord Bonville and Sir Thomas Kyriell. With Richard of York slain at Wakefield, and Warwick defeated at St. Albans, the Lancastrians were riding on a swell of victory, however, this good fortune was to prove illusionary.

 

Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, 2 February 1461, Edward Duke of York destroys Pembroke and Owen Tudor’s army and clears the route to London.

 

Richard Plantagenet’s eldest son Edward, now the Duke of York, with Lord Audley, Sir William Herbert, Sir Walter Devereux, Lord Grey de Wilton, Lord FitzWalter and Sir William Hastings, with a force of 5,000 had meanwhile, on 2 February, destroyed Pembroke and Whiltshire’s Lancastrian army of between 4,000 – 8,000 at Mortimer’s Cross. Although Pembroke and Whiltshire escaped, Owen Tudor – the old husband of Catherine Valois – was captured and beheaded.[xli] While Pembroke fled to France, Henry Tudor, grandson of Owen Tudor and son of Edmund Tudor and Margaret Beaufort, was deposited at Pembroke Castle and later captured by the Yorkists, being subsequently imprisoned at Raglan Castle.

Edward of York advanced from his victory against Pembroke and collected Warwick at Oxfordshire with his remaining force of 4,000 on the 19th of February. Edward was able to stay ahead of Margaret in the race to the capital. The Lancastrian army was short on money and victuals and therefore withdrew, leaving London open to Edward. This was a decisive mistake for the Lancastrian cause as not yet nineteen year-old Edward Plantagenet entered London with his army on 27 February and shortly thereafter on 3 March, with great enthusiasm and church support (for his claim was considered the legitimate return to Plantagenet rule that had been usurped by Henry IV in 1399), was proclaimed King Edward IV.

 

Edward, son of Richard, Duke of York, became King Edward IV

 

A ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey where Edward was presented with the crown and the sceptre of St. Edward the Confessor.[xlii] Warwick, already the wealthiest man in the Kingdom and not yet 32 years old, was now raised to colossal proportions, being made Great Chamberlain, Captain of Dover, and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, that is, controller of the lucrative cloth trade, a situation that was formally recognized in 1465.[xliii]

Queen Margaret led a strategic retreat north, continuing to accumulate her army, still under the command of Somerset, Northumberland, Rivers, and Clifford, a force now estimated to be as large as 30,000 – 60,000.

Edward did not waste time and on 5 March despatched Norfolk to East Anglia to raise men. The King left London on 13 March to lead his force, estimated at 25,000, expecting to be joined by significant detachments under Warwick and Norfolk as he set out to confront the Lancastrians.

The total size of the two forces now approached 100,000 men – as much as 2% of the total population of the Kingdom in 1461.[xliv] The Lancastrian force was commanded by the 24 year-old Duke of Somerset and supported by Exeter, Northumberland, Devon, Trollop, and Lords Fitzhugh, Hungerford, Beaumont, Dacre of Gilsland, Roos, and Grey of Codnor. The Yorkist force was commanded by Warwick, Norfolk, Bourchier, Grey de Wilton, Clinton, Fauconberg, and Lords Scrope and Dacre (Richard Fiennes), and the young king himself, Edward IV.

 

towton4

Graham Turner painting of longbowmen at Towton.

 

In a preliminary engagement on 28 March, while attempting to cross a bridge over the River Aire, Lord Clifford ambushed Lord FitzWalter and Warwick, slaying the former and wounding the latter in the leg, although Warwick was able to escape and rejoin Edward’s army. A melee developed as Edward rushed reinforcements to support the crossing but the Lancastrians destroyed the bridge. Edward moved his army upstream and crossed at Castleford. Clifford marched there to block Fauconberg but was outnumbered and the murderer of Rutland was thus slain by an arrow as he retreated.[xlv]

 

towton5

Towton3

Battle of Towton, 29 March 1461. From A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (2002). Edward and Warwick annihilate a large Lancastrian army under Somerset and Northumberland, & the field at Towton from Goodwin, Fatal Colours (2011).

With lines established outside of Towton on 29 March, in the midst of a blizzard, the two factions confronted each other. The initial Lancastrian arrow volleys were ineffective as Fauconberg’s archers were masked by the snow while being able to recover the arrows fired at them. In turn they launched back effective volleys. With losses mounting, Somerset urged his men to rush in a general melee, which the Yorkists immediately joined, and the butchery of Towton commenced.[xlvi] The outcome of the battle was hard fought, with Edward IV and Warwick fighting on foot in the thick of the action, joined as evening descended by Norfolk’s detachment. Norfolk had arrived at a timely juncture and flanked the Lancastrian position. Margaret’s army fled and was destroyed in detail, Edward encouraged the Yorkists to give no quarter. Somewhere between 28,000 and 40,000 men were killed, the majority on the side of the Lancastrians.

This was a crushing defeat for Maragert. Among those slain were the Duke of Devonshire, Earls of Westmoreland and Northumberland, Lords Dacre and Welles, Sir John Neville, and Sir Andrew Trollop. The Duke of Somerset, however, escaped the carnage and re-joined Margaret and Henry, who, learning of the devastation, fled to Scotland. Edward IV, vowing to destroy Henry VI, ordered the deaths of 42 Lancastrian knights, and later the Earl of Oxford and Whiltshire, who were both executed, although the Plantagenet king pardoned others including Northumberland’s brother, Sir Ralph Percy.[xlvii] Lord Rivers surrendered himself and joined Edward.

Edward’s party was now riding a wave of victory, having secured the crown and effectively reversed the outcome of Wakefield and St. Albans. Edward thus entered Yorkshire in triumph, where he removed the skulls of his father, brother, and his uncle Salisbury, which had been displayed on the walls of York as a Lancastrian provocation since Wakefield the year before.[xlviii] Edward, leaving Warwick and his brother, John Neville, Lord Montague, in charge of pacifying the north, returned to London on 2 May, from which he prepared to campaign in Wales and reduce the last areas loyal to the Lancastrians. Edward promoted his brother George to Duke of Clarence (who also received Henry Tudor’s Earldom of Richmond) and in 1462 made young Richard the Duke of Gloucester, sending him to live at Warwick’s Middleham estate.[xlix]

Edward IV was formally crowned in Westminster Abbey on 28 June 1461. His symbols of the triple sun and white rose of York were displayed prominently, and he was lavish with his subjects, yet economical in governance.[l] Noted for his proven warrior virtue, enormous gastronomical and sexual appetites – “voluptuous” was what Winston Churchill called him[li] – the young King’s reign was at first generally mild and peaceful, certainly a welcome change from the preceding years of violence and calamity. Edward enjoyed a royal income of £50,000, late in 1461 increased to £80,000 by confiscation of Henry VI’s estates and other properties including the Duchy of Lancaster, awarded directly to the crown. In 1465 Parliament granted Edward lifetime duties on English ports, which brought in another £25,000 a year.[lii] With Warwick, whose income soon skyrocketed from £3,900 to £15,000 a year,[liii] and Fauconberg, who had been promoted Admiral of England in 1462, Edward was in firm control of the seas and reaping great profit from the wool and cloth trade. Edward used these regal incomes to begin repaying the vast outstanding national debt that had worsened under Henry VI. Upon his death in 1483 Edward had repaid £97,000 to London and Italian bankers.[liv]

 

Campaign in the North, 1464. Map 5 from Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485 (2017).

 

Although the dynastic war in England now entered a period of relative calm, political developments on the continent conspired to keep the flame of civil strife alive. Charles VII of France died on 22 July 1461 and was succeeded by Louis XI, from whom the defeated and impoverished Margaret now sought whatever support she could gain. Louis’ main political ambitions were to secure Burgundy and Brittany for France, and he perceived Margaret’s request for support as a chance to destabilize relations between England and Burgundy,[lv] thus opening an avenue for French intervention. In England, after spending the early 1460s quashing Lancastrian rebellion, Edward IV had indeed intended to cultivate closer relations with Burgundy, whose merchants controlled the cloth trade throughout Belgium and Holland. Edward IV was a fan of everything Burgundian and in fact modelled his court and army on the Burgundian pattern.

 

Louis3

Louis XI of France

Granted a small force financed by Louis, in exchange for forfeiting Calais, Margaret now sailed from Normandy and landed, after tribulations caused by the weather, in Northumberland, where she began once again to consolidate her position.

Warwick and Edward IV soon arrived with a large army, and Margaret, with nowhere near enough forces to oppose them, was forced to retreat to Scotland. On 24 December 1462 Somerset changed sides by agreement with Warwick.[lvi] In spring 1463 the Lancastrians sallied forth from Scotland to invest castles in Northumberland, beginning with Bamburgh where Sir Ralph Percy opened the gates, and on 1 May Margaret secured Alnwick Castle, where Sir Ralph Grey turned to her side. Again Warwick marched north with an army and again Margaret was forced to flee, now seeking to make her way, with the Duke of Exeter and Sir John Fortescue, to Burgundy where she intended to plead with Phillip for support.[lvii] Although Phillip warily agreed to meet her, and paid her a gift of gold, he could not endorse her efforts and sent her instead to Bruges to be entertained by his son Charles. Margaret eventually traveled to meet her father, Rene of Anjou, who granted her a small stipend of 6,000 crowns per annum, reducing somewhat her financial straits.[lviii] In December 1463 Somerset again defected, and traveled to the Anjou court at Bar where he rejoined Margaret.

In the north Henry VI was rallying his forces, including Humphrey Neville, Roos, Hungerford, Sir Ralph Grey and Sir Ralph Percy, who were then rejoined by Somerset after his voyage to the continent. Sir Ralph Percy, however, was trapped and killed in battle by Montague’s men on 25 April 1464 at Hedgeley Moor.[lix] Montague then rode to York where he met Scottish envoys and with them secured a 15 year truce, another blow to the Lancastrian cause.[lx]

Montague finally caught up with Somerset and defeated him at Hexham, 15 May 1464. The Duke was beheaded upon capture, amongst others condemned by Montagu and John Tiptoft, the Constable of England, including Roos, Robert Hungerford, Sir Philip Wentworth, Sir Thomas Finderne, Sir Edmund Fish, Sir William Tailboys, and Sir Ralph Grey.[lxi] Warwick captured Alnwick Castle on 23 June and Montague was promoted Earl of Northumberland.[lxii]

 

Harlech Castle today. The last Lancastrian stronghold after the 1464 campaign.

Only Harlech Castle in Wales now remained in Lancastrian hands. Edward IV appointed Lord Herbert constable of Harlech, entrusting him with persecuting and concluding the siege of that place, which finally fell in 1468.[lxiii] In 1465 Henry VI, until then hiding in various rebel settlements in the north, was captured and brought to London for imprisonment in the Tower.[lxiv]

 

Elizabeth Wydville (Woodville), wife of Edward IV and Queen of England. John Faber Sr., early 18th c. & from Queen’s College Cambridge.

 

Edward, with the Lancastrian cause crushed and Henry VI once again his prisoner, returned to the pursuit of his pet-project: an alliance with Burgundy. This was an annoyance for Warwick, still the most powerful man in the country, who supported Louis XI of France. Warwick’s power had been encroached upon by the rising Wydville (Woodville) family, to whom Edward was intimately connected through his marriage to Elizabeth Wydville in May 1464.[lxv] In 1466 Edward dismissed Warwick’s uncle, Lord Mountjoy, who had been Treasurer of England, and replaced him with Richard Wydville, Elizabeth’s father, who Edward also promoted to Earl Rivers. This was a particular insult to Warwick, who had once captured Wydville during the upstart’s career as a Lancastrian.[lxvi]

In October of that year, despite Warwick’s opposition, Edward IV and Philip of Burgundy reached an understanding. A number of trade barriers were cleared between the English and Flanders merchants, and certain protections were granted for Channel shipping. These entirely sensible proposals were certain to alienate Warwick, whose income was always supplemented by tacitly acknowledged Channel piracy.[lxvii] In 1467 Warwick hatched a scheme wherein his two daughters, Isabel and Anne, would marry Edward’s brothers, the Dukes of Clarence and Gloucester. Edward, wary of Warwick’s effort to gain royal power for the Neville family, continued to pursue his Burundian alliance, at last concluded in November 1467. Philip of Burgundy had been succeeded by Charles the Bold that June. Another diplomatic success was scored the following spring through alliance with Brittany.

This progress with Burgundy and increase of the Wydvilles was deeply frustrating to Warwick, who was still keen to see England allied with France.[lxviii] In retaliation for Edward IV’s support for Burgundy and Britany, Louis XI agreed to finance the Earl Pembroke, Jasper Tudor, so that he could return to England and assemble a Lancastrian army. After landing in Wales Pembroke began his march towards Harlech Castle, intending to raise Edward’s four year-long marathon siege. Unfortunately for the Lancastrians, Harlech fell on 14 August 1468 and so Pembroke’s rebellion was halted before it could truly get underway.[lxix] With Louis XI now openly supporting the Lancastrians, Parliament granted Edward IV £62,000 in 1469 to finance an invasion of France.[lxx]

By late 1468 Warwick, “bitterly vexed” in Charles Oman’s phrase,[lxxi] had exhausted his patience with Edward, and thus began to turn against the Plantagenet King he had done so much to install.[lxxii] Edward continued to purge potential sources of Lancastrian support, and in January 1469 Henry Courtenay and Thomas Hungerford were both tried as traitors and condemned to death. Sir Richard Roos was able to sneak out a coded message to the Earl of Oxford, entreating the Lancastrians to rally with Warwick against Edward.[lxxiii] Warwick, along with Oxford and Clarence – Edward IV’s brother who Warwick still planned to marry to his daughter Isabel – retired to Calais where they could negotiate with Louis and organize their planned coup against Edward. Warwick clearly intended to reverse his decline under Edward by loading the deck in favour of Lancaster – a weak cause he could control. On 11 July Clarence was married to Isabel, and the following day Warwick issued a manifesto decrying Edward’s supporters.[lxxiv]

Warwick landed in Kent on 16 July 1469 and quickly rallied a sizeable force. He marched on London with ease and entered the city on 20 July. Edward was at this time in the north. The Earl of Pembroke (York: William Herbert, ie, not Jasper Tudor) meanwhile, supported by the Earl of Devon, rallied forces to confront a small rebel group led by Robin of Redesdale while they were enroute to joining Edward at Nottingham. Pembroke forced a bridgehead over the River Cherwell and was then joined by Sir William Parr and Sir Geoffrey Gate. Not long afterwards, however, they spotted the vanguard of Warwick’s force approaching. Devon promptly deserted to join Warwick and a battle ensued that the Yorkists were winning, but the tide turned when Warwick arrived personally with his main force and scattered Pembroke’s remaining forces.[lxxv] William Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke, was captured as a result, and he and his brother were both condemned to death by the all conquering Warwick.[lxxvi]

 

Infographic near battle-site describing the Battle of Edgecote, 26 July 1469.

Warwick’s army caught up with Edward IV on 2 August and in a major coup the King was captured. With Edward IV in his custody, Warwick now attempted to summon Parliament so as to justify his blatant usurpation, but was forced to cancel this summons not long afterwards. While these arrangements were being made Warwick cleaned house, exacting revenge on the detested Wydville family on 12 August by condemning to death Sir John Wydville, and Lord Rivers, respectively Queen Elizabeth Wydville’s father and brother. Warwick’s raw displays of power caused chaos, a situation that was exploited in the north by Humphrey Neville of Brancepeth, who raised a pro-Lancastrian rebellion. Warwick marched to suppress this revolt but in doing so was forced to agree to liberate Edward IV. Edward was soon joined by his loyalists and Warwick had no choice but to set him free, whence the King returned to London. Although the Lancastrian rebellion was crushed and Humphrey Neville captured and beheaded, Warwick’s power had been exposed for what it was – a flagrant appropriation of the King’s authority driven essentially by the Earl’s lust for power.[lxxvii]

Edward pardoned both Clarence and Warwick, but the action during 1469 had destroyed Warwick’s position as the arbiter of the realm. Edward feigned forgiveness for the Kingmaker but wasted little time isolating him. Warwick now had only one card left to play, namely, to somehow depose Edward IV and promote Clarence as King. In the meantime the King appointed his 17 year-old brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to set out for Wales and suppress any rebellion found there.[lxxviii]

Warwick for his part set about fomenting rebellion while maintaining a façade of loyalty. By March 1470 Warwick had convinced Sir Robert Welles to lead a rebellion with the objective of deposing Edward in favour of Clarence, although the rebels themselves were clearly unaware that they were being used as pawns in Warwick’s game, being led to believe that they were supporting the cause of Henry VI.[lxxix] Edward took this affair seriously – it could have been the prelude to a French invasion – and brought his artillery with him to Stamford, where he ordered the execution of Lord Welles, Sir Robert’s father, to demonstrate his intention to quash the rebellion. In the ensuing battle at Empingham the rebels were decimated by Edward’s artillery, and the rebel leaders, Welles, de la Lande and Dymoke were all captured and executed.[lxxx]

Edward, his position now more secure, on 24 March denounced Warwick and Clarence as traitors. The two conspirators ignored Edward’s royal summons and instead made for the coast. Although Warwick’s ships were soon captured, the two outlaws were nevertheless able to depart from Exeter on 3 April.[lxxxi] Warwick and Clarence arrived off Honfleur on 1 May and on 8 June were given an audience with King Louis. Warwick was convinced by Louis that his best chance of recovering his position was through Margaret and Henry VI, who Warwick now agreed to support.[lxxxii] To sweeten the deal, Anne, Warwick’s younger daughter, would marry Edward Lancaster, Henry VI’s son, and in the interim Warwick would become Regent and Governor of England, a pattern that had played out under York and Bedford before him. On 25 July Edward Lancaster was betrothed to Anne Neville.[lxxxiii]

A Burgundian and English blockade was dispersed by storm and Warwick, Jasper Tudor, with Oxford and Clarence, returned to England. Edward was in Yorkshire suppressing rebellion and marshalling his forces when, on 13 September 1470, Warwick’s fleet landed his army at Dartmouth and Plymouth.[lxxxiv]

Warwick quickly assembled a large force estimated at between 30,000 and 60,000, joined by Lord Stanley and the Earl of Shrewsbury. Edward was at this point betrayed by Lord Montague, and realizing he now no longer possessed any chance of confronting Warwick on even terms, the King fled to Norfolk where, on 30 September, with Gloucester and Hastings, he departed for Burgundian Holland. On 6 October Warwick and his force entered London and promptly restored Henry VI, who had been confined to the Tower since his capture several years prior, and proclaimed him their lawful King.[lxxxv] The Earl of Oxford bore Henry’s Sword of State at the King’s ceremonial restoration on 13 October.[lxxxvi] The hated Tiptoft was captured and executed – a trial overseen by the 13th Earl of Oxford – being replaced as Treasurer by John Langstrother.[lxxxvii] Jasper Tudor arrived at Hereford where he liberated Henry Tudor, 13, who was now brought to London to meet Henry VI before he returned to Wales. With Warwick’s powerful support the Lancastrian cause was once again riding high. Edward’s usurpation was declared invalid, and all of the titles issued by him were revoked, including that of his brother Richard, the Duke of Gloucester.

 

Rogier van der Weyden’s c. 1460 portrait of Charles the Bold. Charles was defeated and killed at the Battle of Nancy, 5 January 1477.

Having toppled the pro-Burgundian Yorkists, Louis XI now took advantage of his position and declared war against Burgundy, hoping to drag England along with him. Warwick had no choice but to support the French alliance, which unfortunately for the Lancastrian cause imperilled London’s business interests. Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, immediately agreed to finance Edward IV’s return to the English throne.[lxxxviii]

On 2 March 1471 Edward departed Flushing in his flagship the Anthony, and although  supported by a fleet of 36 Burgundian and Hanseatic ships, was denied a landing on 12 March at Norfolk due to the Earl of Oxford’s presence, and so landed two days later at Ravenspur, Yorkshire.[lxxxix]

Edward entered York on 18 March and was soon at the head of an army significant enough to confront Warwick, who had hastened with an army to Leicester. Edward confronted Warwick at Coventry, but Warwick refused to accept Edward’s challenges. Edward eventually withdrew, despatching a covering force to block Oxford at Leicester, who was marching to join Warwick. Oxford’s force was defeated on 3 April.[xc] Clarence, encouraged by Burgundy and Gloucester, now betrayed Warwick and deserted to Edward with as many as 12,000 men.

Margaret meanwhile prepared her army (Fortescue, Wenlock, Morton, and 3,000 French knights) and sailed from Harfleur on 24 March.[xci]

 

Battle_of_Barnet_lithograph

Death of Warwick at the Battle of Barnet, 14 April 1471, from the Ghent Manuscript. & 1885 lithograph of Warwick’s defeat.

 

barnet5

Map of Barnet from A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (2002)

 

Edward marched to the capital and entered London. Warwick’s brother, the Archbishop Neville of York, facilitated Edward’s entry into the city.[xcii] Edward, after restoring himself to the crown, secured Henry VI and departed London with the army, intending to intercept Warwick. The two forces met at Barnet on 1 April, Warwick with 20,000 – 30,000 men, Edward IV with perhaps 10,000. The King commanded the center, 18 year-old Gloucester the right and Hastings the left.[xciii] Warwick’s center was commanded by Somerset, Oxford and Montagu took the right, while Exeter, supported by Warwick himself, held the left.[xciv] Both sides possessed a number of hand-gunners and cannon, with Warwick holding a slight advantage in artillery. In the ensuing battle, in which both Edward and Warwick fought on foot, a highly confused state of affairs developed due to mist that covered the field. Both Oxford and Gloucester won their respective flank battles, while Montague was killed and the Yorkist forces launched a devastating cavalry charge that broke the Lancastrian lines. Warwick, attempting to flee, was overrun and killed. Nearly 1,000 Lancastrians were killed to 500 Yorkists, including Lord Cromwell, Lord Say, Humphrey Bourchier, Sir John Paston and others.[xcv] Oxford, although he personally fought well, had “pursued recklessly” according to Charles Oman, and failed to tightly control his division, which at least partly contributed to the chaos in the Lancastrian lines that produced the defeat at Barnet.[xcvi] The Earl now fled to Scotland, but was captured several years later. He would yet play an unexpected and decisive role in the rebellion against Richard III.

Unfortunately for Queen Margaret the demise of her principal champion, Warwick, was unbeknownst when she landed with Prince Edward at Weymouth, where they were joined by Jasper Tudor (Pembroke) and the Earls of Devonshire, Courtney and the Duke of Somerset. Edward IV, immediately changing gears following his victory over Warwick, left Windsor Castle on 23 April to seek out Margaret and destroy her. After a long and exhausting chase Edward’s army confronted Margaret at Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471. Somerset led the Lancastrian army, and commanded the right wing. Prince Edward under Wenlock took the center, and Devon the left. Edward IV commanded the Yorkist center himself, with Gloucester, now Constable of England, the left, and Hastings the right.

 

tewks

Tewkesbury approach from A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (2002)

 

tewks2

Field sketch from A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (2002) & Battle of Tewkesbury, 4 May 1471, from the Ghent Manuscript.

The two armies were very nearly matched, about 5,000 strong, although Edward, who had captured Warwick’s artillery, by far possessed the larger train of gunpowder weapons. Gloucester led the Yorkists forward, developing a heavy fire with arrows and cannon and then feigned a retreat. Somerest ordered a charge but was soon caught in the trap and surrounded. Wenlock refused to move in support and Somerset’s men were destroyed. Managing to escape and return to the Lancastrian lines, Somerset located Wenlock and, in a fit of anger, killed him.[xcvii] Gloucester and King Edward meanwhile led a devastating charge that routed the Lancastrians, leaving 2,000 of their enemy slain on the field.

The Earl of Devonshire and Lord Wenlock were dead, as was John Beaufort, Sir Walter Courtenay, Sir William Vaux, Sir Robert Wittingham, Sir William Roos and Sir Edmund Hampden.[xcviii] The Duke of Somerset was captured and, under the auspices of the Gloucester, beheaded along with a dozen others on 6 May.[xcix] Prince Edward was either killed on the field, or captured and then murdered by the Dukes of Clarence, Gloucester, Lord Hastings and Sir Thomas Gray.

 

beheadingsomerset

Beheading of Somerset, 6 May 1471, at King Edward’s orders.

 

Margaret was captured by Lord Stanley,  and when Edward IV returned to London on 21 May, she was confined to the Tower. King Henry VI, 50 years old, son of Henry V, his cause utterly lost, was now murdered at Edward’s behest, possibly by 19 year-old Richard, Duke of Gloucester.[c] Whatever happened, it should be noted that in 1484 Richard, now Richard III, ordered Henry VI’s reburial at Windsor.[ci]

Pembroke and Henry Tudor, the exiled Earl of Richmond, were now the last remaining Lancastrian loyalists alive and at liberty, and for this reason they quickly fled to Brittany. Henry Tudor, upon whom the remainder of the civil war now focused, had a claim that derived initially from two sources: his mother, Margaret Beaufort, was the daughter of John Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, descendant of John of Gaunt, and therefore Tudor’s mother was the great-great granddaughter of Edward III. In 1455 at the age of 12 she was married to Edmund Tudor, son of Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois, the former Queen of England and France. Edmund Tudor died in 1456 and Margaret gave birth on 27 January 1457 (at age 13) to Henry, her only son.[cii]

 

London3

Jean de Waurin presenting his book to Edward IV, c. 1470-80. The figure at the bottom left wearing the Garter is believed to represent Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Reproduced in Alison Weir, The Princes in the Tower (1999). Edward IV’s was noted for his patronage of printing, a rapidly expanding industry in 1470s England. See John Harvey, The Plantagenets (1972), p. 203

In England Edward IV was, for the moment, again triumphant, all his enemies having been crushed or driven before him. Henry VI and Warwick were dead and Margaret, her son killed and his claim extinguished, was imprisoned in the Tower. Edward, joined in alliance with the Duke of Burgundy, now prepared for his much delayed war with France. In 1475 Edward landed at Calais with an army of 1,500 men-at-arms and 15,000 archers. Burgundy did not uphold his end of the agreement, however, and when Edward marched to confront Louis, the latter agreed to terms that effectively paid off Edward, with the promise of money and marriage of the Dauphin to Edward’s daughter. Louis also agreed to pay Queen Margaret’s ransom, and she was released from the Tower and returned to France where she eventually died in 1482. Charles the Duke of Burgundy, for his part, foolishly struggled against the Swiss and then the French until he was killed at the Battle of Nancy in 1477. Louis promptly invaded and conquered Burgundy, a pivotal event in the national formation of France that likewise pushed the Netherlands towards Austria’s sphere of influence. The rump of Dutch Burgundy was swallowed by Maximillian I.

 

Albrecht_Dürer_-_Portrait_of_Maximilian_I_-_Google_Art_Project

Albrecht Durer’s 1519 portrait of Maximilian I, son of Emperor Frederick III, and husband of Mary, Charles the Bold’s only daughter, inheritor of the Burgundian estates.

 

Edward and Richard meanwhile consolidated their power. The Duke of Clarence was condemned to death by Parliamentary vote and forced to commit suicide in 1478.[ciii] Richard, accompanied by the Duke of Albany, invaded Scotland in 1481 and won a decisive victory at Berwick. The final phase of this century-long drama opens with Edward IV’s death in 1483 at the age of 42, leaving his two young sons, Edward, the Prince of Wales, and Richard Plantagenet. Edward, at age 13, thus became Edward V, although not yet crowned, and within three months he was deposed by his Regent and Protector, Richard of Gloucester.

Edward V was protected by the Earl of Rivers, who, at the time of the King’s death, had been campaigning in Wales. Both parties now set out for London, with Gloucester departing York whence he was joined by the Duke of Buckingham. Edward and Rivers were caught at Stony Stratford and, together with Sir Richard Gray and Sir Thomas Vaughan, were arrested by Richard’s authority.

Edward IV’s wife, the Queen Elizabeth, with her supporters and the young Duke of York, fled to Westminster Abbey when Gloucester entered London. The Queen however was soon compelled to turn over both herself and her son, and once these personages were secured, Gloucester ordered the execution of Rivers, Gray and Vaughan, who were despatched by the authority of Lord Hastings.[civ] Richard than struck the Wydvilles and Warwick’s brother-in-law, Lord Stanley, on 13 June 1483. As the purges accelerated Hastings was brought before Richard and condemned for treason, paying the usual toll for that offense. Lord Stanley, the Archbishop of York, and the Bishop of Ely, were all imprisoned in the Tower. Edward IV’s sons were soon murdered.[cv]

In the course of a few weeks what effectively amounted to a dynastic coup was orchestrated and, with the support of the Duke of Buckingham, Gloucester was proclaimed King Richard III. The deaths of Edward Lancaster, Henry VI, Edward V and his brother, made it clear that Richard would stop at nothing, including regicide, to achieve power. He was soon known as one of the most infamous tyrants in Europe.[cvi]

Richard III surrounded himself with supporters. Lord Thomas Howard was created Duke of Norfolk, his son Sir Thomas Howard, was made Earl of Surrey. Lord Lovel was made Viscount, and Lord Stanley was made Steward of the Household. Buckingham regained several estates and was promoted to Constable.

 

Henry Stafford, Second Duke of Buckingham, by William Sherlock, 18th C.

 

Buckingham, like so many others in this story of civil strife, soon changed sides and vowed to support the Earl of Richmond, Henry Tudor, who was then living under the custody of the Duke of Brittany. In November 1483 Tudor’s party had attempted a landing, with six ships and 390 Breton soldiers, but was delayed due to bad weather and forced to return to Brittany.

On 24 December 1483 Henry was pledged into marriage with the Princess Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV, a marriage that would effectively unite the claims of Lancaster and York under the Tudor name. Thus, in his person, after more than a century, the old dilemma of which of the descendants of Edward III would inherit the crown was solved. All Henry Tudor now had to do was land in Wales, gather up support, defeat Richard, and march on London.

Richard III continued his tyrannical regime, brutally centralizing power through the execution of Buckingham, who was confronted by Richard and charged with treason, on 2 November 1483. Richard summoned parliament in 1484 to formalize his kingship, hoping to appoint his young son Edward as Prince of Wales. Edward did not live long, however, and died at age 10 in April 1484.

In March of that year, to prevent another attempt by Henry, Richard ordered Lord Scrope, with Arundel’s son, to patrol the Channel,[cvii] and Lord Bergavenny was ordered to sea in the spring of 1485, likewise with orders to prevent invasion.[cviii] Richard was also pressuring Brittany to turn over Henry. On 16 May 1485 Anne Neville, the mother of Richard’s son Edward, died. She may have been murdered so that Richard could arrange his marriage to the Princess Elizabeth, his niece, upon whom the legitimacy of the Yorkist claims were focused.[cix] However, it is also possible Richard was attempting to foist off Elizabeth on Portugal in exchange for a royal marriage and that Anne died of natural causes.[cx]

 

AnnaRichard

RichardIII

Stained glass depiction of Richard III and Anne Neville from Cardiff castle, & Late 16th c. painting of Richard III. From Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses, (2017), & Richard III and Queen Anne from St. Stephen’s Hall statues, New Palace of Westminster

 

Nottingham2

Castle Nottingham, the stronghold nearest to Richard’s HQ at Bestwood Lodge, from whence he summoned his retainers, prior to marching to Leicester to intercept Henry Tudor.

In the summer of 1485 Richard was planning to raise a force to support Brittany against France, however, Charles VIII arranged a truce with Brittany on 9 August 1485. Richard, expecting a French landing, had been waiting in Nottingham since 22 June. Henry Tudor was on his way, having set out from Harfleur and/or Honfleur on 31 July – 1 August, to land in Wales at Milford Haven six days later.[cxi]

 

carrack2

Tudor, and his small but determined and experienced army, landed at Milford Haven on 7 August 1485.

 

Part Three: Battle at Bosworth, 22 August 1485

battles

Battles of the Wars of the Roses, Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, loc. 312

 

Armies

Reconstruction of Richard & Henry’s forces, specifying the various nobility brought by each region and including the Stanley’s, who ultimately sided with Henry, but not including Tudor’s 2,000 French & Scottish mercenaries. From Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, (2017), p. 389 et seq.

 

The Forces of Richard III

Anne&Richard.jpgRous_Roll_Richard_III_detail

19th c. etching of the Rous Roll, also showing Queen Anne & original 1483 illumination of Richard III showing the king in Gothic armour.

 

London granted Richard £2,000 for protection of the realm and raised 3,178 men to guard the capital while the King set out to confront Henry Tudor.[cxii] With action imminent, Richard ordered the Great Seal to be brought to him, and so it was delivered on 1 August in the presence of the Archbishop of York – John the Earl of Lincoln – Lord Scrope, Lord Strange and John Kendall, Richard’s secretary.[cxiii] On 11 August Richard was informed of Henry’s landing and the King now issued summons to his nobles to join him, beginning with Northumberland, and including Sir Robert Brackenbury, Constable of the Tower and keeper of the Royal artillery, and John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, plus Henry Vernon and others.[cxiv]

Oddly, until this point, Richard had waited to assemble his army, and instead of relying on the mass shire-levy, preferred summoning veterans he could trust. As he had learned at Barnet, 14 years before, ill-disciplined conscripts could be as much of a burden as they were a numerical advantage. The late feudal system of pay for English levies relied on small groups raised for only a few weeks.

Richard needed only to send out writs of summons and his lords would arrange themselves. Of these major peers, so critical to his cause, Richard assembled certainly seven or more at Bosworth: Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland, commanding the rearguard, his retinue in 1475 had consisted of 9 knights, 51 men-at-arms and 350 archers. John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, whose military capacity in 1484 was between 760 – 1,000 men, commanded the vanguard.[cxv] Also present was Norfolk’s son, the Earl of Surrey, plus Richard’s nephew, the Earl of Lincoln, with Francis the Viscount Lovell, Baron Walter Devereux, John Lord Zouche of Haringworth and Lord Ferres of Chartley, the last who in 1475 had raised 20 men at arms and 200 archers.[cxvi]

 

John NOrfolkpercy4

John Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, commanded Richard III’s vanguard, the right wing, while Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, commanded the left, rearguard.

Six others may have been present: the Earl of Westmoreland (Ralph Neville), the Earl of Shrewsbury (George Talbot), Baron John Tuchet (Lord Audley), Lord Grey of Codnor – 20 men-at-arms, 160 archers in 1475, Lord Scrope of Bolton – 20 men-at-arms, 200 archers in 1475, and Thomas, Lord Scrope of Masham.[cxvii] Individual knights were accounted as anyone owning a single manor, or £5 per annum, to more than a dozen properties valued at £100 per annum, as was the case amongst small barons.[cxviii] These knights and gentry typically brought with them a collection of men-at-arms and two or three dozen archers. The average man-at-arms was paid 12d a day.[cxix]

 

Konradknight

Knight and squire, 1435 by Konrad Witz.

The Stanleys, who would play a critical role in the battle, can also be accounted based on their contributions to Edward IV’s 1475 expedition to France. At that time Lord Stanley had marshalled 40 men-at-arms and 300 archers while his brother, Sir William Stanley provided 3 men-at-arms and 20 archers. At Bosworth it is likely they marshalled somewhere around 1,000 soldiers, arranged in two battles, or sections, each.[cxx]

 

Richard’s household establishment numbered 600 various servants, significantly including 50 picked knights, 108 esquires, and 138 Royal Yeomen (bowmen and archers).[cxxi] These knights comprised Richard’s bodyguard and headquarters and included Thomas Dalande, in charge of tents and pavilions, Sir Robert Percy, controller of the household, and Sir Ralph Bigod of Yorkshire.[cxxii] Sir Juan Salazar, a Basque knight, was in the service of Maximilian of Hapsburg and accompanied Richard as a foreign ambassador.[cxxiii] Salazar may also have commanded a small contingent of Flemish mercenaries.[cxxiv]

 

footman5

Richard’s derived from Yorkshire, Norfolk, and the North. Richard had little time for his summons to be fulfilled after Henry’s landing, and the support of certain magnates, including the Stanleys, was suspect. Henry’s strongest echelons came from Wales, the Midlands, and Oxfordshire.

 

The Forces of Henry Tudor

Infantry2

Henry was joined by John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, in November 1484 to begin planning for the next invasion. Charles VIII, to make the planned invasion legitimate, on 12 May 1485 promoted Tudor to Princeps Anglie, with rank in the French royalty after the Dukes of Orleans, Bourbon and Lorraine.[cxxv]

Charles VIII was eager to leverage Henry Tudor’s claim to negate Richard III’s scheming in Brittany. Henry was thus financed by a grant of £4,400 (40,000 livres) after Charles’ formal entry into Rouen with Henry on 14 April 1485. In the event Charles, strapped for cash, was only able to pay £1,100 upfront and Henry was forced to loan a further £3,300 (30,000 livres) from Philippe Luilllier, Captain of the Bastille.[cxxvi]

The expedition force was soon assembled, the core being composed of nearly 2,000 soldiers, mainly French and Scottish mercenaries. The French-financed and Lancastrian-backed force included a mix of professionals, trained in the Swiss pike style that Charles VIII was to use in his Italian campaigns a decade hence.[cxxvii] Henry also had his share of freebooters, Channel pirates, and hired swords, such as the rebellious knights, Sir Robert Willoughby, Edmund Hampden, and Sir Richard Edgecumbe [cxxviii] Henry’s retinue was composed of the 300 to 500 elites who supported his claim to the throne.[cxxix]

 

Charles_VIII_Ecole_Francaise_16th_century_Musee_de_Conde_Chantilly

Charles VIII of France.

The most powerful echelon in Henry’s army was under the command of the Earl of Oxford, who was a kind of 15th century English Odysseus. Described by one historian as a “tactical genius” and “wily and experienced” by another, Oxford’s role at Bosworth was of decisive importance.[cxxxi] [cxxx] Following his imprisonment in the Tower during 1468 for suspected loyalties to the Lancastrians, not surprising since Edward IV had ordered the execution of his father and brother in February 1462,[cxxxii] Oxford had in fact, after a pardon granted for a confession, sided with Warwick and Clarence in 1469.[cxxxiii] John de Vere had married Warwick’s sister Margaret, and so his fortunes were intimately connected with both the Lancastrian and Neville causes.[cxxxiv]

footman2

Oxford commanded a wing at Barnet and, after Warwick’s demise, led pirate raids against Edward IV’s shipping in the Channel.[cxxxv] Wounded in the face by an arrow while besieged at St. Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, he surrendered to John Fortescue on 15 February 1474 and was shortly thereafter imprisoned at Hammes Castle outside Calais. Although imprisoned in relative comfort, the Earl’s fortune seemed to have reached a nadir. In early October 1484 he escaped with the aid of his gaoler, Sir James Blount, so that both could join Henry the following month. Not a moment too soon in fact as Richard’s agent William Bolton arrived at Hammes on 28 October with orders to collect Oxford for re-imprisonment in England.[cxxxvi] Oxford, free again at the age of 43 and with a powerful vendetta against Richard, was now appointed by a grateful Henry Tudor to command the vanguard.

 

maceman

Shortly before Bosworth, Oxford was joined by Sir Gilbert Talbot, Sir John Savage, “that hardy knight” with Sir Humphrey Stanley, Sir Robert Tunstall, Sir Hugh Persall, “with shield and spear” amongst others.[cxxxvii] These were all actually Lord Thomas Stanley’s retainers, who had joined Tudor the day before the battle when the Stanley’s met with Henry at Atherstone.[cxxxviii] These were key reinforcements as Oxford needed experienced captains to take command of his various contingents. Talbot, with 500 men, was given the right, while Savage took the left.

Other late joiners included Sir Richard Corbet, who brought 800 men, accompanied by Roger Acton.[cxxxix] Thomas Croft arrived with a contingent from Herefordshire, John Hanley one from Worcester, and Robert Pointz led men from Gloucestershire.[cxl] Also present were Lord John Wells, Henry Tudor’s uncle, and Edward Wydville, Elizabeth of York’s brother, “a most valiant knight.” Others named in the Croyland Chronicle are William Berkeley, Thomas Arundel, Edward Poynings and Richard Guilford.[cxli]

A Scottish contingent of perhaps a thousand men, primarily longbowmen, was led by John de Coningham, but also included knights, under Sir Alexander Bruce, and men-at-arms under Captain Henderson, son of Robert Henderson.[cxlii] Henry’s Welsh contingent, more than a thousand strong, included Rhys ap Thomas, “with a goodly bande of Welshmen” according to Holinshed, plus Arnold Butler, Richard ap Gruffydd, Rhys ap Maredudd, John Morgan of Tredegar and others.[cxliii]

footman4

Henry was not interested in simply assuming the mantel of the Lancastrians in their essentially lost-cause struggle with York, but rather in uniting both houses under his personal, Tudor, leadership. As a result the Tudor cause became the haven not only for old Lancastrian defenders but also for anyone displeased with Richard III’s tumultuous rule.[cxliv] John Mortimer, one of Richard’s esquires, defected to join Henry. Likewise, Thomas Bourgchier and Walter Hungerford, hostages held by Sir Robert Brackenbury, escaped imprisonment on 20 August to join with Henry.[cxlv] The night before the battle Brian Sandford, Simon Digby and John Savage “the younger” deserted from Richard’s army, with their fighters, to join the Tudor army.[cxlvi] A number of banished clergy and clerks were also present, including Peter, Bishop of Exeter, Master Robert Morton, Clerk of the Rolls of Chancery, Christopher Urswyk, afterwards Henry’s almoner, and Richard Fox, afterwards Henry’s secretary.[cxlvii] From these high-profile desertions it should be clear that Richard’s support was waning even before he took to the field.

Henry and the Earl of Pembroke, for their part, fought on foot, behind the battle line. Henry’s standards were prominently displayed, both the banner of St. George and the Red Dragon of Cadwallader.[cxlviii] While he was still making preparations in France, Henry ordered William Bret, his merchant in London, to purchase six sets of armour, 12 brigandines (mail coats) and 24 sallets (helmets), to provide Henry and his guard with appropriate English armour upon their landing.[cxlix]

 

longbowmen

Henry’s army could have been supplied with cannon by the French,[cl] although his quick moving amphibious force was reliant on infantry rather than guns or cavalry. At any rate, had he wanted cannon, Henry could have raided the Calais garrison, which included 233 guns then under the command of Sir James Tyrell.[cli] Shortly after Bosworth one Sir Richard Guildford, who had traveled with Henry during the campaign, was made master of ordnance, suggesting his probable role in command of whatever artillery Henry did possess.[clii] A. H. Burne pointed out that the rate of Henry’s march slowed after he reached Lichfield, and this may have been from collecting heavier cannon (and other reinforcements) as the army advanced.[cliii] Whatever the case it is certain that Henry’s artillery was far outnumbered by Richard’s.

 

The Approach

roads2

Roads in England, c. 15th century.

The exact location of the battlefield has been a subject of controversy in the historiography. By 2004 the probable location based on archaeological recoveries and historical analysis, in particular of early modern maps, narrowed the probable battle location to a 6 km survey area.

 

The approach of the Tudor and Yorkist armies in 1485. Henry Tudor’s approach (red) from his Calais – Wales landing, Lord Stanley (green) joining him. Richard marches from Nottingham (blue), his forces assembling in Leicester.

 

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Brackenberry marches from London with Richard’s artillery, Howard comes from Kent, and Percy from the north to join Richard at Leicester. Henry lands near Pembroke and is joined by Welsh supporters before arriving at Shrewbury and marching inland. Richard moves to intercept Henry before he can advance on the capital. From Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, (2017), p. 388

 

On 19 – 20 August Richard moved to Leicester as his force continued to assemble. It was at this time that Henry Tudor met with Sir William Stanley, no doubt to discuss the Stanley’s potential support in the coming battle. Henry’s army, about 5,000 strong, had been marching 16 miles a day (Henry V averaged 14.5 miles per day between Harfleur and Agincourt), for over 225 miles, in the two weeks since their landing.[cliv] Richard’s scouts soon located Henry’s force and reported back to the King. On 21 August Richard marched his army, about 8,000 or 9,000 men, roughly twice that of Henry’s,[clv] to intercept Tudor as the pretender marched down the Roman road just north of Dadlington.

Both sides camped on the night of 21 August. Richard no doubt camped near or on Ambion Hill with at least part of his force. The Stanleys, in all probability, camped near Crown Hill from where they would be well positioned both to observe the battle and decide upon their moment of intervention. The following morning the Royal artillery and gunners were deployed so that they covered the Fenn Lane and approaches. It would be necessary for Henry to fight if he intended to continue his march towards London.

 

The probable battle locations within Leicestershire by 2005, survey by the Battlefield Trust.

 

Advance, Deployment & Contact

approach4

Approach phase map, Figure 8.1 in Bosworth, Foard & Curry (2013), also showing round shot scatter. See also, Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, (2017), p. 388

 

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Townships in battle-area where Henry VII paid compensation incurred by his army’s movement, Figure 3.2 in Bosworth, Foard & Curry

 

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Alternative version of the advance by Michael Jones, Bosworth, 1485: Psychology of a Battle (2014). & map by A. H. Burne, Battlefields of England.

View west from Sutton Cheney Ridge into Redemore basin, & looking north on Redemore from Crown Hill, Stoke Golding, photographs by Glenn Foard.

 

Field sketch by A. H. Burne, Battlefields of England.

 

This battle near Bosworth Market, although completely decisive, possesses an illusive quality. Tudor supporters suppressed information about Richard III after the battle, while Yorkists no longer had any reason to prove their allegiance to Richard through incriminating written documents. What can be pieced together is done so from various contemporaneous historical chroniclers, county records, and fragments of letters.  Analysis of the battlefield, only in the last quarter decade, has added the crucial archaeological evidence. What is known is that Richard outnumbered Henry, although both sides produced comparable numbers of elites, knights and men-at-arms. Richard possessed a large artillery train including a great number of cannon of various kinds, although how much ammunition he had for these guns is questionable. Henry, although outnumbered and lacking in artillery and horses, had the advantage of possessing a more highly motivated and professional army. Henry’s commanders, crucially, proved to be a caliber above anyone willing to support the King.

 

Lord Stanley and his brother Sir William waited for their moment to intervene. Richard III certainly knew Stanley’s commitment was uncertain, most of all because Thomas, Lord Stanley, was married to Henry Tudor’s mother and was thus Tudor’s stepfather. Born c. 1433, Stanley had been made a squire by the time he was nine. The mercurial Stanley changed allegiance with the weather during the civil war. Although he initially supported Queen Margaret, his close family connections with the Yorkists soon drew him into Warwick’s orbit. Stanley supported Warwick when he turned against Edward IV in 1470, but was forgiven by Edward after the rebellion and even made Steward of the King’s Household later in 1471.[clvii] In 1475 Stanley collected 40 knights and 300 archers for the planned French campaign, and later took part in the re-conquest of Berwick from Scotland with Richard Duke of Gloucester in 1482.[clviii] Richard, to insure the Stanley’s loyalty, was holding Lord Strange, Thomas Stanley’s son, as a hostage. Stanley, as we have seen however, had already met with Henry Tudor and in fact loaned him several of his picked knights.

Richard, after deploying his intimidating yet disunited force, delivered a speech to encourage his men. The King had drawn up his army in a long line, with Norfolk on the right, in the vanguard, supported by the Earl of Shrewsbury, on the left, and Northumberland in the rear. The cannon were deployed along the line in their great variety, “seven scores Serpentines without doubt,” and “many bombards that were stout”.

 

approach2

Bicheno’s version of the approach, from Blood Royal

 

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Richard’s potential deployment positions, Figure 8.2 in Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013.

 

The Cannonade and Melee

Appraoch3

Oxford’s opening charge and Richard’s cannonade. Bicheno suggests that Northumberland’s position was along the Fenn Lane road, from where he could screen the Stanleys.

What happened next is perhaps best described in Molinet’s Chroniques: “The king had the artillery of his army fire on the Earl of Richmond [Henry Tudor], and so the French, knowing by the king’s shot the lie of the land and the order of his battle, resolved, in order to avoid the fire, to mass their troops against the flank rather than the front of the king’s battle.”[clix]

At the critical moment Oxford’s compact vanguard developed its oblique attack against Richard’s flank, quickly closing the distance with Norfolk’s vanguard (Richard’s right wing).[clxii] Oxford, as Captain of Archers, led Henry’s left wing forward, approaching Richard’s lines while avoiding the worst of the King’s firepower.[clxi] Oxford’s concentrated longbow and infantry formation would have broken through the flank of Richard III’s extended defensive line. As Peter Hammond and others have pointed out, Oxford’s arrangement of his battle in close order was a continental technique that took advantage of a combined pike and halberd formation learned in France from the Swiss during their wars with the Burgundians.[clxiii]

 

wheelerbattle

A particularly ‘clean’ version of the battle, showing Richard’s position covering the Fenn Lane (Roman road), Oxford’s decisive flank attack around the King’s guns, and Richard’s desperate charge against Henry’s HQ beside the Fenn Hole marsh. Reproduced in Peter Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign (2010), Chapter 6, Map 3.

 

For roughly fifty years (1470-1520) the Swiss pike formations  – like massed longbows a century prior – were the dominant paradigm of battle in central Europe.[clxiv] If Oxford, who had every reason to maintain tight control over his force given his experience at Barnet, had indeed formed his lead echelon into such a pike wedge, or similar formation, the Royalists opposing him would no doubt have been surprised by the dense mass attacking in this audacious manner. Whatever happened next, it is clear that Norfolk’s division was destroyed, his men fleeing. Norfolk was either slain in battle, or captured and killed in the ensuing pursuit, possibly by Sir John Savage near the Dadlington windmill.[clxv] Northumberland, either because of prior arrangement with Henry or because he was engaged screening Sir William Stanley, failed to relieve Norfolk in time.[clxvi]

 

Location of battle related finds: artifacts, bullets and round shot, from all eras. Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, Chapter 5, loc. 4050

 

Metal detectorist Simon Richardson, photographed by Glenn Foard, while scanning the Bosworth survey area for the £154,000 Leicestershire County Council and Heritage Lottery Fund archaeological study.

A systematic metal detector survey, using the same methods as deployed in surveys of Towton (1461), as well as US and UK Civil War battlefields, was carried out between September 2005 – December 2010. The survey produced significant findings that firmly located the battlefield in the region Upton – Shenton – Dadlington – Stoke Golding, covering an area roughly 2 kms in size.

Projectiles recovered from the Bosworth battle site demonstrated a mixture of weapons, including guns and small cannon. Gun bullets are counted as those projectiles below 20 mm in size, and of the 251 lead or lead composite projectiles of all sizes recovered, it was determined that most of the smaller calibres originated from post-Bosworth dates, in particular, from a Civil War era cavalry skirmish that took place in 1644.

 

Distribution of bullets, coins and spurs originating from Civil War era, c. 1644

 

Distribution of medieval artillery shot, Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, Figure 8.4, calibre in mm.

 

The larger projectiles, however, were found to represent ammunition for late 15th century cannon types. Of the 31 projectiles above 28 mm in size, 52% were of solid lead, 32% were of lead wrapped around a stone ball, and 16% were of lead wrapped around an iron cube or “dice” – all types favoured during the later 15th century but prior to the replacement of lead and stone with iron spheres in the 16th & 17th centuries.

 

gunners

15th c. handgunners, from Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign, chapter 5.

 

serpentine

19th century drawing of a 15th c. serpentine-type cannon

 

falconetbreech

3D model of a 15th c. Burgundian muzzle-loading falconet, & diagram of 15th c. breech-loading cannon.

 

stoneshot

Calibre distribution of medieval era round-shot recovered from the Bosworth battlefield. Note the demi-culverin or saker ball at upper right. Figure 7.26 in Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013.

 

Foard & Curry conclude, based on the analysis of the larger projectiles, that a number of unique muzzle and breech loading cannon were used at Bosworth, ranging from small 28.6 mm “base” guns, to 35 mm “robinet” guns, also in 38, 43, & 44 mm varieties, 56-58 mm “falconets“, 63 mm “falcons” (there were 31 in the Tower of London in 1495, and Henry VII ordered a further 28 in 1496-7), and at least one demi-culverin firing a 97 mm ball. English cannon from this period were primarily derived from Burgundian models, manufactured in Flanders and Brabant, Calais, and in England proper. See, Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, Chapter 7: Gunpowder Weapons, loc., 4641, 5408-5448 & Appendix One, Catalogue of Round Shot and Large Calibre Bullets

 

The various medieval artifacts recovered from the battlefield, including pendants, straps, buckles, buttons, spurs, studs and other military implements. Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013.

 

The 97mm shot recovered. Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, various figures.

 

archerline

 

A Warrior’s Death

“Every man’s conscience is a thousand swords,

To fight against that bloody homicide.”

The Earl of Oxford, William Shakespeare’s Richard III

 

approach3

Map of Richard’s desperate charge, from Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, (2017), p. 390

Richard, with his cannon ineffective and Norfolk slain, was at this point desperate to secure the support of the Stanleys, but Lord Stanley made no indication that he was going to side with Richard. The King thus ordered the execution of Stanley’s son, his hostage, Lord Strange, although this was not in fact carried out. There had been a break in the fighting, either caused by a feigned retreat from Oxford or as a result of exhaustion after the action in which Norfolk was killed (pauses in battles were common at this time), and as a result a slight gap had opened on Henry’s right flank. It was now that Richard spotted Henry’s standard. Seizing the moment with the commitment of desperation, Richard led a cavalry charge against Henry’s guard.

At Barnet in 1471 Edward IV had won the day despite early setbacks with an audacious charge that Richard had been an instrumental figure in. No doubt also the memory of his father’s demise against insurmountable odds at Wakefield influenced Richard’s thinking at this moment. Richard and his bodyguard slipped around the right-hand side of Oxford’s battle, the flank covered by Sir Gilbert Talbot’s men. Sir Gilbert saw what was happening and attempted to block Richard’s charge, but his men were overrun, Talbot being injured in the process.[clxvii] Richard plowed into Henry’s guard, unhorsed Sir John Cheyne “a man of surpassing bravery” and killed Henry’s standard bearer, Sir William Brandon.[clxviii] Henry Tudor was out of reach, and behind Richard the trap was closed by Sir William Stanley. Pressed back against the Fenn Hole marsh with no chance of escape Richard’s guard was whittled down.

 

knightdead2

The King was at last unhorsed and then killed by a Welsh halberdier, perhaps one Thomas Woodshawe, later a member of Henry VII’s Yeomen of the Guard, or by Ralph Rudyard of Staffordshire,[clxix] or by someone in the retinue of baron Rhys ap Thomas, whose prominent role in the battle was recognized when Henry knighted him three days later.[clxx] One such individual was Rhys ap Maredudd, subsequently known as Rhys Fawr (the mighty), who was recorded as carrying Henry’s standard following the death of William Brandon.[clxxi] Richard’s retinue, including Sir Richard Ratcliffe, Thomas Pilkington, Thomas Gower, Thomas Markenfield, Alan Fulthorpe, William Conyers, Sir Robert Percy, Sir Robert Brackenbury, and John Kendell, were all slain in the fighting.[clxxii] With Richard slain there was now no longer any cause to fight for, and so the Royal army melted away.

In addition to the King and his guard, the Yorkist losses varied from a few hundred to more than a thousand, including the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Ferrars of Chartley. Sir William Catesby was captured and executed on 25 August while Henry was at Leicester, becoming the only senior Ricardian so condemned.[clxxiii] John, the Earl of Lincoln, along with Thomas, Earl of Surrey (Norfolk’s son), and Francis Viscount Lovell, managed to escape, although Surrey and Lincoln were rounded up when Catesby was captured and Northumberland surrendered to Henry after the battle. Some years later Northumberland was killed by an anti-Tudor mob.[clxxvii]

After the battle, Lord Stanley presented Henry Tudor with King Richard III’s crown, and the new King and his army advanced to Leicester with Richard’s body in tow. Richard was then buried at the Franciscan Greyfriars church after Henry VII departed Leicester three days later.

leicester

Greyfriar’s church (circled) in 15th century Leicester, location of the skeleton exhumed from the church ruins, beneath a modern carpark.

 

Skeleton believed to be that of Richard III.

 

On 4 September 2012 an excavation at the site of the Greyfriar’s church in Leicester exhumed a skeleton that was identified, after a battery of scientific tests, as almost certainly being that of Richard III. The skeleton was determined to be that of a 30 to 34 year-old male, who had been living most likely between 1450 and 1540. The skeleton was described by the team of scientists responsible for the investigation as, “an adult man with a gracile build and sever scoliosis of the thoracic…”[clxxiv] The cranium of the skeleton had received nine blows, with an additional two wounds to the body, these latter both being post-mortem blows to the pelvis. The blows to the skull included a sword blow through the back of the head. The scientists concluded that, due to the lack of defensive wounds, the skeleton had most likely still been armoured at the time of death, with the helmet crucially missing.

 

gr4.jpg

Skull of the skeleton suspected to be that of Richard III, showing fatal sword and halberd blows to the back of the head.

The findings suggest that Richard had been unhorsed, his helmet removed or lost, before he was overwhelmed by his enemies who proceeded to stab him to death, careful to leave his face un-damaged for later identification. Such was the end of the last Plantagenet King, that “child of a violent age” destined to become the last King of England killed in battle.[clxxv] Almost 419 years had passed since Harold Godwinson had been killed at the Battle of Hastings.

 

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Lord Stanley presents Richard III’s crown, retrieved after the battle, to Henry VII, copy of 15th c. Castle Rushen tapestry.

 

The Tudor King

HenryVII

Painting of Henry VII by unknown Dutch artist, made in October 1505 by order of Herman Rink, agent of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. Note the Tudor rose, combining both Lancastrian (red) and York (white). See also engraving, drawn by J. Robert.

Henry arrived outside the capital on 28 August and was formally welcomed into London on 3 September. On the 15th he summoned Parliament, to assemble on 7 November. Henry then issued a general pardon, on 24 September, with the exceptions of Sir Richard Radcliff, Sir James Harrington, Sir Robert Harrington, Sir Thomas Pilkington, Sir Thomas Broughton, Sir Robert Middleton, Thomas Metcalf and Miles Metcalfe.[clxxvi] Only 29 individuals, including Richard III, were dispossessed by attainder, a relatively low number that stressed Henry Tudor’s policy of reconciliation rather than revenge.

On 30 October Henry Tudor was crowned Henry VII by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Tudor married Elizabeth of York on 18 January 1486.

 

lizofyorks

Elizabeth of York, 16th c. copy of 15th c. painting.

 

Spoils were distributed to the victors. Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke, was promoted to Duke of Bedford. Sir William Stanley, whose timely intervention on 22 August had in all probability saved Henry Tudor’s life, was made Chamberlain of the King’s Household.[clxxviii] Thomas, Lord Stanley, was made Earl of Derby, and Edward Courtney the Earl of Devonshire.[clxxix] Chandos of Brittany was made Earl of Bath, Sir Giles Daubeny was made Lord Daubeny and Sir Robert Willoughby was promoted Lord Broke.[clxxx] John Morton was made Bishop of Ely and then Archbishop of Canterbury, and Richard Fox was promoted Bishop of Exeter and eventually Privy Seal and Bishop of Winchester. Edward Stafford, Henry Stafford’s son, was returned to his title as Duke of Buckingham.

 

knight

Oxford, whose “adroit leadership” in the oblique attack at Bosworth had made the Tudor dynasty possible, was promoted to Admiral of England and then Constable of the Tower.[clxxxi] Henry VII would now be protected at the state’s expense, and thus the Yeomen of the Guard were created as 50 picked archers to attend the King’s safety. The demise of Richard III was met with international approval and in 1486 Innocent VIII granted Henry VII a papal bull that verified all of his claims. Richard’s former supporters were denounced and demoted, but pardoned, except for the Earl of Surrey and the son of the Duke of Clarence, Edward IV’s nephew, young Edward (Plantagenet), the Earl of Warwick, whose existence was dangerous to the Tudor claim and who was therefore imprisoned in the Tower. On 16 June 1487 the Earl of Oxford and Jasper Tudor led the Royal army that annihilated the Earl of Lincoln’s rebellion in Edward Plantagenet’s name at Stoke Field. Edward, the last Plantagenet, was executed, after being condemned on 21 November 1499, by the Constable of the Tower, Knight of the Garter, Lord High Admiral, Sir John de Vere.[clxxxii]

 

Johnrous.jpg

John Rous (1420-1492), author of the History of the Kings of England, 18th c. engraving from 15th century illumination

 

Jean_Molinet_presents_his_book_to_Philip_of_Cleveschroniques2

Poet and chronicler Jean Molinet presents his translation of the Roman de la Rose to Philip of Cleves, c. 1500. Molinet wrote an important historical Chronique covering the years 1474 – 1504, as published in Paris in 1828.

 

Polydorvergil2Polydor England2

Polydore Vergil wrote his Anglicae Historiae manuscript in 1512, which was later published in 1534.

 

croyland4

crowland2Crowland3

The Croyland Chronicle & Continuations, record of the Benedictine Abbey of Croyland, Lincolnshire, published in 1908. The Second Continuation covers 1459-1486 and is suspected to have been written by John Russell, Bishop of Lincoln. The ruins of the Abbey church as they appeared prior to reconstruction and restoration in 1860. The church today.

 

Holinshed2Holinshed3

In 1548 Reginald Wolfe began work on a universal history of England. The project was finally completed by Wolfe’s assistant, Raphael Holinshed, and published in 1577, & again in 1587. Holinshed’s Chronicles were immensely influential, not least upon William Shakespeare.

 

holbien2

Holbein

Drawing for painting of Henry VII and Henry VIII by Hans Holbein. Henry VIII from the workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1537-47. The original was destroyed in the Whitehall Palace fire of 1698.

 

holbien4

 

London 1620b.jpglondon2.jpgLondon1559.jpglondontower.jpg

View towards London (left) and Greenwich (right) in 1620. Map of London c.1579, made in Colonge & Detail of London in 1559, print from copper plate engraved in the Netherlands. &  Claes Visscher panorama of London, 1616 compared with 2016 view & The Tower as it appears today.

claes1616

Notes

[i] David Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III, Kindle ebook, vol. 1, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1901)., p. 148. Robert Balmain Mowat, The Wars of the Roses, 1377 – 1471, Kindle ebook (London, 1914)., Chapter 1, loc. 78

[ii] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 156.

[iii] Hume., p. 157.

[iv] Hume., p. 160-1.

[v] Hume., p. 163

[vi] Hume., p. 172-3

[vii] Hume., p. 176

[viii] Hume., p. 177

[ix] Hume., p. 186

[x] E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485, The Oxford History of England 6 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993)., p. 150-2.

[xi] Jacob., p. 157.

[xii] John Keegan, The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo and The Somme, Random House eBooks (London: Pimlico, 2004). p. 64-6.

[xiii] Keegan., p. 66-7

[xiv] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 156.

[xv] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 188

[xvi] Charles W. C. Oman, England and the Hundred Years’ War (1327-1485), Kindle ebook (Uckfield: Naval & Military Press Ltd, 1898)., Chapter 10, loc. 1605-39.

[xvii] N. A. M. Rodger, The Safeguard of the Sea. A Naval History of Britain, 660-1649 (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998)., p. 143-4.

[xviii] Rodger., p. 144.

[xix] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 191

[xx] Mowat, The Wars of the Roses, 1377 – 1471., Chapter 3, loc. 240.

[xxi] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 197; Shakespeare’s John Falstaff is based in part on Sir John Oldcastle (1378 – 1417). https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Oldcastle

[xxii] Hume., p. 213

[xxiii] Hume., p. 216

[xxiv] Hume., p. 195 & 219

[xxv] Hume., p. 223

[xxvi] Hume., p. 225

[xxvii] Alison Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses, Kindle ebook (London: Vintage, 2011)., Chapter 15, loc. 4034

[xxviii] Weir., Chapter 15, loc. 4072

[xxix] Weir., Chapter 15, loc. 4149

[xxx] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 227

[xxxi] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 15, loc. 4225

[xxxii] Weir., Chapter 16, loc. 4372

[xxxiii] Weir., Chapter 16, loc. 4409

[xxxiv] Weir., Chapter 16, loc. 4439

[xxxv] Weir., Chapter 16, loc. 4554

[xxxvi] Matthew Lewis, Richard Duke of York: King by Right, Kindle ebook (Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2016)., Chapter 25, loc. 5185

[xxxvii] Lewis., Chapter 25, loc. 5209

[xxxviii] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 229

[xxxix] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 17, loc. 4955

[xl] Weir., Chapter 17, loc. 4832

[xli] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 228-9

[xlii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 17, loc. 4992

[xliii] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5013; see also, Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 565

[xliv] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 18, loc. 5050

[xlv] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5078

[xlvi] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5107

[xlvii] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5174 – 84

[xlviii] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5194

[xlix] Weir., Chapter 20, loc. 5568

[l] Weir., Chapter 19, loc. 5348 – 77

[li] Winston S. Churchill, The Birth of Britain, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, vol. 1, 4 vols., (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Limited, 1956)., p. 452

[lii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 19, loc. 5415.

[liii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 564

[liv] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 19, loc. 5425.

[lv] Weir., Chapter 20, loc. 5540

[lvi] Weir., Chapter 20, loc. 5675

[lvii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 530

[lviii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 20, loc. 5780

[lix] Weir., Chapter 20, loc. 5827

[lx] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 531

[lxi] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 21, loc. 5898

[lxii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 531

[lxiii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 21, loc. 5918

[lxiv] Weir., Chapter 21, loc. 6032-43

[lxv] Weir., Chapter 21, loc. 5870

[lxvi] David Grummitt, A Short History of The Wars of the Roses (London: I. B. Tauris, 2013)., p. 87-8

[lxvii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 554-5; see also, Rodger, The Safeguard of the Sea. A Naval History of Britain, 660-1649., p. 154

[lxviii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 21, loc. 6167

[lxix] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6226 – 35.

[lxx] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6245

[lxxi] Charles W. C. Oman, Warwick, The Kingmaker, Kindle ebook (Perennial Press, 2015)., Chapter 13, loc. 1890

[lxxii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 553

[lxxiii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 22, loc. 6293

[lxxiv] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6331-41

[lxxv] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6369

[lxxvi] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6379

[lxxvii] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6445

[lxxviii] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6454

[lxxix] Weir., Chapter 23, loc. 6504; see also, Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 558

[lxxx] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 23, loc. 6533

[lxxxi] Weir., Chapter 23, loc. 6570

[lxxxii] Weir., Chapter 23, loc. 6608

[lxxxiii] Churchill, The Birth of Britain., p. 466

[lxxxiv] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 24, loc. 6737

[lxxxv] Weir., Chapter 24, loc. 6792

[lxxxvi] S. J. Gunn, “Vere, John de, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).

[lxxxvii] Cora L. Scofield, “The Early Life of John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford,” The English Historical Review 29, no. 114 (April 1914): 228–45., p. 234

[lxxxviii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 24, loc. 6963

[lxxxix] Weir., Chapter 25, loc. 6989.

[xc] Weir., Chapter 25, loc. 7057

[xci] Weir., Chapter 25, loc. 7048

[xcii] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 243-4

[xciii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 25, loc. 7155

[xciv] Oman, Warwick, The Kingmaker., Chapter 17, loc. 2511

[xcv] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 25, loc. 7203

[xcvi] Oman, Warwick, The Kingmaker., Chapter 17, loc. 2531

[xcvii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 26, loc. 7334

[xcviii] Weir., Chapter 26, loc. 7353

[xcix] Alison Weir, The Princes in the Tower (London: Folio Society, 1999)., p. 27

[c] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 245; Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 26, loc. 7469; see also, Weir, The Princes in the Tower., p. 25-6

[ci] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 26, loc. 7548

[cii] Michael Jones, “The Myth of 1485: Did France Really Put Henry Tudor on the Throne?,” in The English Experience in France c. 1450-1558: War, Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange, ed. David Grummitt (Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2002), 85–105.

[ciii] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 249-50

[civ] Hume., p. 254

[cv] Weir, The Princes in the Tower., p. 138-42

[cvi] Keith Dockray and Peter Hammond, Richard III From Contemporary Chronicles, Letters & Records, Kindle ebook (Croydon: Fonthill Media LLC, 2013)., Chapter 9, loc. 2007-164

[cvii] Glenn Foard and Anne Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered, Kindle ebook (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2013)., Chapter 2, loc. 1019

[cviii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1031

[cix] Weir, The Princes in the Tower., p. 198-9

[cx] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1041

[cxi] Churchill, The Birth of Britain., p. 496; Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1489, 1554

[cxii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 998 – 1071, 1206

[cxiii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1113

[cxiv] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1227 & 4559

[cxv] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1323

[cxvi] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1354

[cxvii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1354

[cxviii] Christopher Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain, 850-1520 (Yale: Yale University Press, 2013)., p. 148

[cxix] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1196

[cxx] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1385; The Ballad of Bosworth Field, ed. M. Bennet, Battle of Bosworth (Stroud, 1985), p. 155-7. Quoted in Appendix 3, Joshua Flint, “A New Reassessment of the Importance of Gunpowder Weapons on the Battlefields of the War of the Roses.” (MA Thesis, University of Huddersfield, 2014).

[cxxi] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1426

[cxxii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1437

[cxxiii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1468

[cxxiv] Ralph A. Griffiths and Roger S. Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty, Kindle ebook (Stroud: The History Press, 2005)., Chapter 11, loc. 2624

[cxxv] Jones, “The Myth of 1485: Did France Really Put Henry Tudor on the Throne?”

[cxxvi] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1554

[cxxvii] Stephen Turnbull, The Art of Renaissance Warfare, From the Fall of Constantinople to the Thirty Years War, Kindle ebook (Yorkshire: Frontline Books, 2018). Chapter 4, loc. 995

[cxxviii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1554

[cxxix] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1521

[cxxx] James Ross, The Foremost Man of the Kingdom: John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513) (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2011)., p. 85

[cxxxi] Dan Jones, The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and Hte Rise of the Tudors (London: Faber & Faber Ltd., 2014)., Chapter 19, loc. 4986

[cxxxii] Scofield, “The Early Life of John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford.”

[cxxxiii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered.

[cxxxiv] Scofield, “The Early Life of John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford.”, p. 230

[cxxxv] Scofield., p. 238

[cxxxvi] Ross, The Foremost Man of the Kingdom: John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513)., p. 82

[cxxxvii] The Ballad of Bosworth Field, ed. M. Bennet, Battle of Bosworth (Stroud, 1985), p. 155-7. Quoted in Appendix 3, Flint, “A New Reassessment of the Importance of Gunpowder Weapons on the Battlefields of the War of the Roses.”

[cxxxviii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1385; see also, Griffiths and Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty. Chapter 11, loc. 2564-72

[cxxxix] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1709; see also, Griffiths and Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty. Chapter 11, loc. 2503

[cxl] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1709

[cxli] Henry T. Riley, trans., Ingulph’s Chronicle of the Abbey of Croyland, with Continuations (London: George Bell and Sons, 1908)., p. 502

[cxlii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1621

[cxliii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1676; http://english.nsms.ox.ac.uk/holinshed/texts.php?text1=1577_5327

[cxliv] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1447

[cxlv] Griffiths and Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty., Chapter 11, loc. 2555

[cxlvi] Griffiths and Thomas., Chapter 11, loc. 2572; http://english.nsms.ox.ac.uk/holinshed/texts.php?text1=1577_5327

[cxlvii] Riley, Ingulph’s Chronicle of the Abbey of Croyland, with Continuations., p. 503

[cxlviii] Churchill, The Birth of Britain., p. 497

[cxlix] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1532

[cl] Foard and Curry., loc. 4605

[cli] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1510

[clii] Foard and Curry., loc. 4611

[cliii] A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (London: Penguin Books, 1996)., p. 304

[cliv] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 3, loc. 1963

[clv] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1815

[clvi] Michael J. Bennett, “Stanley, Sir William (c. 1435-1495),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).

[clvii] Michael J. Bennett, “Stanley, Thomas, First Earl of Derby (c. 1433-1504),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).

[clviii] Bennett.

[clix] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 3, loc. 2247

[clx] Peter Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign (Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military, 2010)., Chapter 6, loc. 1671

[clxi] The Ballad of Bosworth Field, ed. M. Bennet, Battle of Bosworth (Stroud, 1985), p. 155-7. Quoted in Appendix 3, Flint, “A New Reassessment of the Importance of Gunpowder Weapons on the Battlefields of the War of the Roses.”

[clxii] Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign., Chapter 6

[clxiii] Hammond., Chapter 6; See also, Turnbull, The Art of Renaissance Warfare, From the Fall of Constantinople to the Thirty Years War., Chapter 2, loc. 611.

[clxiv] Geoffrey Parker, The Military Revolution, Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500 – 1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)., p. 18

[clxv] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 3, loc. 2501

[clxvi] Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, Kindle ebook (New York: Pegasus Books, 2017)., Chapter 33.

[clxvii] Bicheno., Chapter 33.

[clxviii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 3, loc. 2343; see also Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485., Chapter 33.

[clxix] Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign., Chapter 6

[clxx] J. Molinet, Chroniques of Jean de Molinet (1474 – 1506), ed., M. Bennett, Battle of Bosworth, (Stroud, 1985), p. 138. Quoted in Appendix 3, Flint, “A New Reassessment of the Importance of Gunpowder Weapons on the Battlefields of the War of the Roses.”; see also, Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 2, loc. 1543, 1697

[clxxi] Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485., Chapter 33.

[clxxii] Bicheno., Chapter 33.

[clxxiii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 3, loc. 2611

[clxxiv] Jo Appleby et al., “Perimortem Trauma in King Richard III: A Skeletal Analysis,” The Lancet 385, no. 9964 (January 17, 2015): 253–59.

[clxxv] Weir, The Princes in the Tower., p. 27

[clxxvi] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 2, loc. 1396

[clxxvii] Steven G. Ellis, “Percy, Henry, Fourth Earl of Northumberland (c. 1449-1489),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).

[clxxviii] Bennett, “Stanley, Sir William (c. 1435-1495).”

[clxxix] David Hume, The History of England, Henry VII to Mary, Kindle ebook, vol. 2, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1901)., loc. 125

[clxxx] Hume., loc. 188

[clxxxi] Gunn, “Vere, John de, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513).” & Ross, The Foremost Man of the Kingdom: John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513)., p. 86

[clxxxii] Gunn, “Vere, John de, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513).”

 

 

Master of the Seas of the Two Indies: the Naval Career of Admiral Sir George Pocock

national portrait gallery

Early 19th Century oil painting of Sir George Pocock, based on a c. 1761 painting by Thomas Hudson.

The Career of Admiral Sir George Pocock

A distant figure in our time, Sir George Pocock was a consummate naval officer, with victories in both the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War, responsible in the latter for securing command of the Indian Ocean during 1759, and for Britain’s greatest maritime operation of the 18th century – the capture of Havana in 1762. Closely associated with controversial figures such as Lord Clive, John Byng and the Earl of Albemarle, Pocock was marginalized in the historiography during the 19th century in comparison to the towering figures of Anson, Rodney, Hawke and Boscawen. Pocock nevertheless played an integral role in several of Britain’s most important maritime operations and his well deserved reputation for courage, steadfastness and imperturbability encourage modern reappraisal.

The Young Gentleman

George Pocock was born on 6 March 1706 at Thames Ditton, Surrey, the son of the Reverend Thomas Pocock and his wife Joyce Master. Thomas was a Royal Navy chaplain who ministered to the Royal Hospital at Greenwich.[i]

superb.jpg

HMS Superb, captured French Superbe of 1710, flagship of Admiral George Byng, Pocock’s first posting in 1718

Pocock’s naval career began in 1718 at the age of twelve when he joined HMS Superb (64), the captured French warship then the flagship of Admiral George Byng (Viscount Torrington) – himself married to one Margaret, Joyce’s sister. Superb’s flag captain was Streynsham Master, Pocock’s uncle. Pocock was accompanied to sea by his cousin John Byng (of eventual Minorca infamy) who was also beginning his career aboard the flagship of the Admiral, his father.[ii] Pocock’s path was thus smoothed by his close association with senior officers and his extended network of relatives and relations.

Both Byng and Pocock were aboard Superb when it fought at the battle at Cape Passaro, Sicily, 11 August 1718.[iii] From here Pocock spent three years aboard the hospital ship Looe and a further four years aboard the warships Prince Frederick (70) and Argyle (50).

namue.jpg

HMS Namur, 90 gun 2nd rate in which Pocock was made First Lieutenant in August 1732.

The Portrait of a Naval Officer, from Lieutenant to Post Captain

Pocock made Lieutenant on 19 April 1725 (other sources say December 1726), and was stationed aboard HMS Burford (70), followed by Romney (54), and then Canterbury (60).[iv] Pocock was next appointed to HMS Namur (90) the flagship of Admiral Sir Charles Wager, and in August 1732 he was promoted to First Lieutenant. Pocock’s first command was the fireship Bridgewater, to which he was appointed on 26 February 1733.

1719 frigate.jpg

1719 establishment frigate similar to the 1727 rebuilt 20 gun 6th rate HMS Aldborough, Pocock’s first command in 1738.

Pocock made Commander in February 1734,[v] and after four years of service was promoted, on 1 August 1738 at the age of 32, to Post Captain with command of the frigate Aldborough (20), first built in Pocock’s birth-year of 1706, then rebuilt in 1727.[vi] Thus, Pocock was stationed in the Mediterranean under Rear Admiral Haddock. The squadron in which Pocock served secured several lucrative Spanish captures following the declaration of war in 1739.[vii] Pocock continued in the Mediterranean until 1741, and then he returned to England.

woolwich

HMS Woolwich in 1677 as a 54 gun 4th rate, by Willem van de Velde, rebuilt in 1702 and again in 1736 as a 50 gun ship, to which Captain Pocock was appointed in 1742.

In August 1742, now 36, Pocock was appointed to the Woolwich (50), a heavily rebuilt 4th rate originally completed in 1675.[viii] He was transferred briefly to the Shrewsbury and then in 1744 (or January 1743) he was appointed to the Sutherland (50) a new 4th rate only three years out of the yards, in command of which he was despatched to the East Indies, convoying British East India Company (BEIC) ships. These 4th rates of the 1733 and 1741 establishment were designed by Sir Jacob Acworth, the Surveyor of the Navy between 1715-1749. Although plentifully armed,[ix] they were nevertheless under-gunned due to a shortage in heavier ordnance that prevailed in Britain during the 1730s, and have further been criticized as cramped and overly expensive.[x]

sutherland

Lines of the ‘Sutherland’-type 50 gun 4th rates built in 1741, Pocock’s command in 1744.

SLR0464

Block model of HMS Preston a 1733 establishment 50 gun cruiser built in 1742. The 853 ton 4th rate was crewed by 300 men and equipped with 22 18-pounders, 26 12-pounders, 14 6-pounders on the quarterdeck and four 6-pounders on the forecastle.

50gun2

Model of 50-gun cruiser circa 1725, similar to the newer Sutherland commanded by Captain Pocock in 1744.

Pocock was ordered to the African coast in October 1744, but his sailing from Plymouth was delayed due to trouble fitting and manning the Sutherland and the operation was not carried out until April 1745 (Pocock arrived at Madeira on the 27th of that month).[xi]

westindies1747

The eastern Caribbean during the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748), the principle convoy assembly points at Antigua (British – red), and Martinique (French – blue) circled.

Antigua

Map of Antigua made in 1780 and drawn from late 1740s surveys, base of Britain’s Leeward Island Station during the 18th century

Pocock was eventually assigned to the Barbadoes and Leeward Islands station under Commodore Edward Legge, who had been appointed to the Leeward Island station command on 24 October 1746.[xii] The Sutherland, arrived at Antigua on 28 April 1747. Under Legge’s command, Pocock’s Sutherland was employed on trade defence, convoy protection and shipping interdiction missions, working with the other cruisers on station in pairs. Sutherland worked alongside HMS Captain (70), Suffolk (70), Dragon (60), Sunderland (60), Dreadnought (60), Gosport (44), and assorted frigates and sloops against the French convoys sailing from Martinique.[xiii]

hawke.jpg

finnisterre

Second Battle of Cape Finisterre, 14 (25) October 1747, Rear Admiral Hawke’s action scattered a large French convoy that proceeded to the West Indies where it was intercepted by Pocock’s Leeward Island’s squadron in November.

Pocock was thrust into command when Commodore Legge became seriously ill in August and then died on 18 or 19 September 1747 at the age of 37. Pocock, the senior captain, now succeeded Legge as C-in-C.[xiv] Pocock’s singular achievement came in November with the capture of a scattered French convoy, the result of Rear Admiral Hawke’s action off Cape Finisterre, 14 (Julian, 25, Gregorian) October 1747.[xv] Pocock’s small squadron of cruisers, frigates, sloops and privateers captured as many as 40 merchant ships – and 900 prisoners – although a further 66 merchant ships from the original convoy of 252 made it to Martinique.[xvi]

Pocock returned to England, having been relieved in the Caribbean in May 1748 by Rear Admiral Henry Osborne. Shortly afterwards, on 18 October 1748, the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ended the War of Austrian Succession.

Pocock, now a wealthy – although not yet rich – man as the result of his shipping captures, moved into an apartment on St. James Street, London. In 1749, at the age of 43, Pocock was painted by Thomas Hudson.

Hudson, Thomas, 1701-1779; Admiral Sir George Pocock (1706-1792)

Commodore George Pocock, 43, painted by Thomas Hudson in 1749

Pocock had no command until 1754 when he was appointed to the Cumberland (66) for home duty, before being transferred to the Eagle (60) – although this ship was badly damaged in a storm, and Pocock returned to the Cumberland – to sail on 24 March with Rear Admiral Charles Watson and 400 troops, destined for the East Indies.[xvii]

indaitrade

Admiral in the Indian Ocean

The Seven Years War with France provided Pocock with the opportunity he needed to resume his naval career. Cumberland arrived in the Indian Ocean in September 1754 and Pocock’s role in the global conflict began at sea on 6 January (or 4 February) 1755 when he was advanced to the rank of Rear Admiral of the White.

indiaweather

Maps of India, showing European trade stations during the Seven Years War, and prevailing annual weather during.

India1755

Pocock sails for India in early 1755 aboard HMS Cumberland

Gheriah.jpg

The capture of Geriah, 12 – 13 February 1756, by Dominic Serres in 1771. Rear Admiral Watson’s flagship, HMS Kent is in the centre, with Pocock’s Cumberland to its right, facing backwards.

Cumberland reached Bombay on 10 November 1755. Watson and Pocock were soon engaged fighting the pirate Tugalee Angria, who sortied from his base at Geriah near Goa. Rear Admiral Watson in Kent, with Pocock as his second in command in Cumberland, transported a detachment of troops under Lieutenant Colonel Robert Clive to Geriah, arriving on 12 February 1756. Clive’s soldiers were landed in the evening while Watson’s force put Angria’s pirate flotilla to the torch and bombarded his base. Although Angria himself escaped, the pirate’s base and treasure (including £130,000 of spices, jewels, and other valuables) were captured. Watson returned to Madras at the end of April, and Pocock was promoted to Rear Admiral of the Red on 4 June 1756.

Almost two weeks later Suraj-ud-Daula, the nineteen year-old nawab of Bengal, deployed 30,000 men to surround Calcutta, where Britain’s Fort William was garrisoned by a mere 500 soldiers. The fort fell on 20 June, the captured British prisoners suffering their ignominious fate in the notorious Black Hole of Calcutta – more than half dying from suffocation.[xviii]

News of this disaster reached Madras on 16 August, where Watson and Pocock were stationed. A relief expedition was organised but it was unable to sail until October when the prevailing winds made progress tortuously slow. Pocock’s mission, working with C-in-C Watson, was to escort a landing force to Calcutta, but the squadron did not arrive until 8 December,[xix] while Pocock’s Cumberland had became separated from the attacking squadron and was running short on supplies. By the time Pocock reached Calcutta, in January, Calcutta and the surrounding forts had already been recaptured by Watson’s landing force of 700 regulars, 600 sailors and marines, and 1,200 sepoys, commanded once again by Colonel Robert Clive. Nevertheless, Pocock was promoted to Vice Admiral of the White in February 1757 (or possibly earlier on 8 December 1756).

Clive, after defeating Suraj-ud-Daula in open battle and securing his cooperation through a peace treaty on 9 February, was eager to advance on towards the French trade post at Chandernagore. Conveniently, it was now that news arrived from Europe that war had indeed been declared between France and Britain, so Clive and Watson set off upriver.[xx]

chandernagore

Rear Admiral Watson’s force – KentTiger (under Pocock) and Salisbury – bombarding Chandernagore on 23 March 1757, by Dominic Serres, 1771

Pocock, arriving at Calcutta shortly after this, followed up the Hooghly river in a boat and barge flotilla. He arrived on 22 March 1757 and immediately took command of the warship Tiger (60), which along with Kent (70) and Salisbury (50) had managed to work themselves upriver. The bombardment was opened the following day. In this violent action Pocock himself was wounded when he was hit by flying splinters (Salisbury failed to get into position while Tiger suffered 13 killed and 54 wounded; Kent another 19 killed and 74 wounded).[xxi] Following the surrender of Chandernagore, Clive went on to defeat Suraj-ud-Daula – who had once again turned against the BEIC – in the famous battle at Plassey, 23 June 1757.[xxii]

On 15 or 16 August 1757 Rear Admiral Watson died of fever at Calcutta and Pocock assumed command of the entire East Indies squadron. Also at this time, Pocock learned of the court martial and execution of his cousin, Admiral John Byng, stemming from the latter’s failure to recapture Minorca (20 May 1756).

India1757.jpg

Royal Navy reinforcements arrive in 1757 & Pocock becomes C-in-C East Indies. Note the loss of Kent.

The Duel

Early in 1758 Pocock left Bengal for Madras, where he was met by Commodore Charles Steevens with reinforcements: four ships-of-the-line and a frigate,[xxiii] and on 5 February (or 31 January) Pocock was promoted to Vice Admiral of the Red.[xxiv]  The essence of fleet strategy in the Indian Ocean revolved around securing trade from the west coast of the sub-continent between April and September, before the monsoon season began, and no doubt the French would do what they could to interdict this trade.

Indeed, intelligence soon arrived that the French were sending reinforcements to counter-attack. A small force led by the skilled Anne Antoine Comte d’Ache de Serquigny had been despatched from Brest on 3 May 1757 (although three of d’Ache’s four ships-of-the-line had to be diverted to Louisburg).[xxv]

india1758.jpg

Build up of forces in the Indian Ocean during 1758, Pocock battles the Comte d’Ache for control of the East Indies.

PocockMadras

Pocock’s East Indies squadron after being reinforced by Commodore Stevens in early 1758. Note Captain Richard Kempenfelt’s presence as Commodore Stevens’ flag-captain aboard HMS Elizabeth.

Pocock flew his flag from HMS Yarmouth (70) and put to sea on 17 April, passing Negapatam and Fort St. David, and on 28 April Pocock’s squadron of seven intercepted the Comte d’Ache’s squadron of nine (eight total owned by the French East India Company, some acquired enroute at Mauritius) near Cuddalore.[xxvi] D’Ache had previously arrived at Fort St. David where he forced two of Pocock’s detached frigates to run aground, whence the British crews torched the ships to prevent capture.[xxvii]

D’Ache was escorting 1,200 French reinforcements (four battalions) under the command of the Comte de Lally (Lieutenant General Thomas Arthur Lally, baron de Tollendal, descendent of an Irish émigré; a solider of fortune) destined for Pondicherry. While Pocock was preparing to close with d’Ache, the Comte despatched Lally-Tollendal in the Comte de Provence (74) to make for Pondicherry, leaving d’Ache with only eight ships to fight Pocock’s seven.

yarmouth.jpg

HMS Yarmouth (70), Pocock’s command in 1758-9

d'ache1.jpg

View of Pocock’s first action with d’Ache, 29 April 1758

cuddaloreorder.jpg

Order of battle for Cuddalore/Gondelour

Between 2:15 and 3 pm on 29 April Pocock steered directly for d’Ache’s flagship, the Zodiaque, and although he was receiving incoming fire from the French line, did not return fire until within pistol-shot.[xxviii] At the decisive moment he signaled for close action. In the ensuing battle (known as the battle of Gondelour in French and Cuddalore or Sadras in English), only four of Pocock’s ships engaged (leaving Cumberland, Newcastle, and Weymouth behind, and generating court martials for the three hesitant captains), and by the time the three laggard ships had caught up the British had been badly damanged, allowing d’Ache to make good his escape, limping into Pondicherry, where the Comte de Lally had already arrived.[xxix] Although Pocock flew the signal for general chase it was clear the British, with many sails and masts shot away, could not pursue and thus only the frigate Queenborough was sent ahead to try to locate the French squadron during the night, but to no avail.[xxx] D’Ache later lost the East Indiaman Bien-Aime (58) when it crashed ashore.[xxxi]

Nevertheless, Pocock’s force had inflicted numerous casualties: 162 killed and 360 wounded (or near 600 killed and wounded), in particular aboard d’Ache’s flagship. D’Ache, however, had done well himself, having achieved his objective of getting through to Pondicherry and had inflicted casualties of his own, primarily on the Yarmouth. Total British losses were 29 killed and 85 (or 89) wounded.[xxxii]

Pocock refitted at Madras and was prepared to sail on 10 May. Lally-Tollendal was on the move, however, and with 3,500 Europeans and another 3,000 Indian troops first captured Cuddalore and then laid siege to Fort St. David.[xxxiii] Pocock intended to relieve the siege of Fort St. David, but was unable to reach the outpost before it surrendered on 2 or 6 June, along with its garrison of 1,000.[xxxiv] Pocock’s normally cool temper was by now enflamed and upon return to Madras for victuals and water he ordered the court martials of Captains Vincent, Legge and Brereton, whom he held responsible for failing to engage on 29 April. Captain Vincent was relieved of his command, Legge was cashiered and Brereton reduced a year in seniority.[xxxv] The incident had stung Pocock – a man not easily shaken from his serene demeanour – and in later years he acknowledged this fact, coming to believe that he had been overly harsh in handing out these sentences.[xxxvi]

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British and French order of battle off Negapatam, 3 August 1758. Notice the change of British captains following the court martials held in July.

Pocock put to sea again on 25 July and made a half dozen merchant ship captures before scouting the harbour at Pondicherry on the 27th. D’Ache, realizing he was about to be trapped, and with few provisions remaining, took his force of seven and a frigate and fled to sea, once again alluding Pocock’s general pursuit.[xxxvii] Pocock was, however, able to capture and burn a French ammunition ship that had been approaching Pondicherry.

Pocock sighted d’Ache on 1 August, and, although d’Ache skillfully delayed with a series of maneuvers all of August 2nd, Pocock was finally able to bring the Comte to action on the morning of the 3rd near Negapatam.[xxxviii] At 1:20 pm d’Ache decided it was time; his fleet drawn up in a crescent, and signaled to engage. Pocock followed suit, but was temporarily frustrated as d’Ache pulled his squadron away, firing chain shot at the English line, carrying away signals and masts.[xxxix] Pocock was determined to fight, however, and at 2:25 flew the signal for close action.

Captain Kempenfelt in the Elizabeth furiously attacked the Comte de Provence, temporarily setting it ablaze, then moving on to attack the Duc de Bourgoyne. Meanwhile, Pocock, in the Yarmourth, once again made for d’Ache’s flagship, the Zodiaque, and engaged it with a heavy fire, destroying the ship’s wheel. A gun exploded aboard the French flagship and in the confusion the Zodiaque collided with the Duc d’Orleans.[xl] With Yarmouth and Tiger closing in, d’Ache could see that the battle was turning against him – once again the daring French commander effected his escape, making for Pondicherry at 2:08 pm. Pocock signaled for general chase but, again, it was too late and d’Ache, although shaken, limped back into harbour. Pocock’s squadron suffered 200 casualties (31 killed and 116 – 166 wounded, including a slightly injured Pocock and Commodore Steevens – who had been shot by musket ball in the shoulder)[xli] to d’Ache’s 800 (250 killed and 600 wounded, amongst the latter including d’Ache himself as well as his flag captain).[xlii]

The strategic situation was liable to worsen as the French, on 9 March, had despatched additional reinforcements from Brest: Minotaure (74), Actif (64), and Illustre  (64), as well as Fortune (54) from Lorient on 7 March. The Royal Navy was able to spare only Grafton (70) and Sunderland (60) sailing from England on 8 March.[xliii]

In the meantime, with the monsoon season set to arrive, Pocock made for Bombay to effect his repairs while d’Ache sailed for Mauritius (where he combined with Captain Froger de L’Eguille’s force of three-of-the-line). On 14 December Lally-Tollendal sieged Madras, but the siege was broken when Captain Kempenfelt, despatched by Pocock, arrived with frigates and several small craft loaded with stores and reinforcements, forcing Lally-Tollendal to raise the siege on 17 February 1759.[xliv]

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Order of battle for Pondicherry

Bataille_de_Pondichéry_le_10_septembre_1759

Battle of Pondicherry, 10 September 1759, the culminating battle between Pocock (top) and d’Ache (bottom), concluding with d’Ache’s flight from the Indian Ocean, securing India for Britain, much as Admiral Saunders and General Wolfe had done for Canada at Quebec (13 September), Commodore Moore had done for Guadeloupe in the West Indies (1 May), while Hawke destroyed the Brest fleet at Quiberon Bay (20 November) and Boscawen destroyed the Toulon fleet at Lagos (18 August): the string of victories that made 1759 Britain’s annus mirabilis.

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Royal Navy casualties at Pondicherry

The situation remained a stalemate until 17 April 1759, when Pocock, with the weather once again favourable, sailed for Ceylon, hoping to intercept d’Ache at sea. For the following four months Pocock cruised, hunting for the French squadron.[xlv] Nevertheless, d’Ache was nowhere to be found and with provisions running low, Pocock set course for Trincomale on 1 September. However, within 24 hours of this decision, the frigate Revenge located d’Ache’s squadron at sea and hastened to inform Pocock. Hearing of this break of good fortune Pocock put about and signaled for a general chase. D’Ache, once again faced with his old nemesis, knew exactly what to do and proceeded to amuse Pocock at sea for three days, until the French commander disappeared into a bank of haze.

Pocock immediately made to blockade Pondicherry, hoping to intercept d’Ache should he try for that port – which was in fact d’Ache’s intention as he carried supplies for that critical base.[xlvi] Pocock arrived off Pondicherry on 8 September early in the morning; exactly eight hours before d’Ache. The French squadron was sighted at 1 pm and two hours later had been identified as 13 sail.[xlvii] Pocock continued ahead of d’Ache to prevent his escape and hounded the French squadron for 48 hours, finally closing on d’Ache’s line at 2:10 pm on 10 September. On this occasion (known as the battle of Pondicherry) Pocock had nine of the line against d’Ache’s eleven. D’Ache, with Yarmouth nearly within musket shot, saw that battle was now unavoidable and signaled for action, Pocock immediately following. An intense cannonade commenced until d’Ache pulled away not long after 4 pm. Once again Pocock’s ships were too badly damaged in their masts and yards to pursue. In the pitched battle d’Ache himself was again wounded (and his flag-captain killed), one amongst a total of 1,500 French casualties. Pocock’s forces had sustained 569 casualties (118 killed and another 66 dying afterwards, with another 385 variously wounded).[xlviii] Furthermore, Captain Michie of the Newcastle had been killed.[xlix]

Pocock ordered the frigate Revenge to follow d’Ache while the English made quick repairs at sea. The next morning the English sighted the French squadron but d’Ache again made sail, disappearing over the horizon. With Tiger and Cumberland under tow, Pocock made for Negapatam to repair, where he sent to Madras for reinforcements. At sea again on the 20th, Pocock set course for Pondicherry, where he found d’Ache at anchor beneath the fortress guns on the 27th – the French admiral had achieved his purpose and had landed his supplies. To Pocock’s frustration d’Ache proceeded to slip away, avoiding the still damaged English ships. Pocock returned to Madras. D’Ache, meanwhile, made for Mauritius, leaving the Royal Navy in control of the Indian Ocean, and clearing the way for the capture of Pondicherry itself, accomplished on 15 January 1761.

pitt.jpg

The East Indiaman “Pitt” engages St. Louis on 28 September 1758/9, by Dunn Lawson. St. Louis was a veteran of all three of d’Ache’s battles with Pocock. An artistic representation of the grand naval duel for India – if the exact particulars are perhaps imaginary.

Pocock, his health weakened by five years of relentless warfare in the East Indies, was ordered to hand-over his command to Commodore Steevens and return to London at the end of 1759. Pocock, however, felt his presence was still required and thus did not relinquish his command until April 1760. Back in London, he was rewarded with a marble bust commissioned by a grateful East India Company. Later that year, at the age of 54, Pocock was elected MP for Plymouth, and was subsequently knighted in March 1761. Pocock used his influence and his close relationship with Lord Anson to advance the interests of his commanders, being able to get James Hawker promoted, although not William Owen.[l] Pocock believed in rewarding those who had supported him, telling a follower that, “…if not too open and glaring an impropriety, I might rely on him.”[li]

Of Pocock’s actions in Indian waters Sir Julian Corbett wrote in 1907, “It is the fashion now merely to deride his battle tactics, which after three actions in eighteen months had failed to secure a real decision, though the tactics which would have secured a decision against a superior force determined to avoid one are never very clearly indicated. More just it would be to praise his vehement ‘general chases’, the daring and resolute attacks which in manner yielded nothing to Hawke’s, and above all for the strategical insight and courage which enabled him to dominate a sea which it was practically impossible for his inferior force to command.”[lii]

As for D’Ache, Pocock’s great antagonist in those distant waters, Pitt’s American strategy – culminating in the capture of Quebec while treating India as a holding action – had effectively terminated the threat from Mauritius. Clive now wrote that, “…this time the superiority of our force at sea, I take for granted, is beyond dispute, and of consequence our resources must be more than those of the French… A victory on our side must confine the French within the walls Pondicherry; and when that happens, nothing can save them from destruction, but a superior force at sea…”[liii] On 8 June 1760 news arrived at Mauritius informing D’Ache that the English were now preparing to shift their efforts to the Indies and thus that he should expect an operation with sizable forces against his island base, precluding any chance of further operations in Indian waters.[liv] D’Ache sent two frigates to inform Pondicherry of this unhappy fate and in January 1761 that last, all-important, French base in India capitulated.[lv]

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Return of a fleet into Plymouth Harbour, Dominic Serres, 1766

Triumph: The Havana Operation of 1762

War was declared against Spain on 4 January 1762 when the British government learnt of a treaty signed between France and Spain in August the previous year. The Cabinet, once again under the Duke of Newcastle, reached the decision to strike Havana on 6 January (a project Pitt had proposed before his resignation in October 1761), and Pocock, promoted to Admiral of the Blue, was selected for overall command, with Lieutenant General the Earl of Albemarle commanding the land forces.[lvi] Lord Anson drew up the plan, part of a two-pronged assault against the Spanish empire’s key colonial outposts: the Philippines and Cuba. On 7 January the Navy Board issued its request for transportation for the project and by the end of January the transports had been prepared and supplied for seven months rations. Pocock’s final orders arrived on 18 February.[lvii]

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Lord Anson by Joshua Reynolds

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Caribbean during the Seven Years War, showing Pocock’s “Old Bahama” route to Havana.

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Lines of HMS Namur, 90 gun second rate built in 1756, Pocock’s flagship for the Havana operation.

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Pocock’s initial force as assembled (minus transports, etc) at Spithead.

By 26 February the entire force was prepared and assembled at Spithead (Albemarle described Pocock’s effort as “indefatigable”).[lviii] Pocock was to proceed with his forces to the Lesser Antilles, rendezvous with Major General Robert Monckton and Rear Admiral George Rodney, then sail to St. Domingue to collect additional forces for the landing before moving onto his objective. Pocock was to collect another four thousand regulars and American militia from New York, as well as a planned regiment of 500 blacks and 2,000 slaves from Jamaica, plus pilots from the Bahamas (who turned out to be inexperienced).[lix] Celerity was imperative as the onset of the hurricane season in August was bound to terminate operations, as was the prevalence of tropical disease, such as yellow fever.[lx]

Pocock, with second in command Commodore Augusts Keppel,[lxi] departed England with five sail, 67 transports, and 4,000 troops (four regiments – the 22nd, 34th, 56th and 72nd) on 5 March and arrived at Barbados on 20 April, before sailing to Martinique on 26 April, the latter island recently captured by Rear Admiral Rodney and Major General Monckton that January (St. Lucia had also been captured on 25 February under Captain Augustus Hervey). Rodney had already been informed by the arrival of the Richmond late in March that he was to prepare to join with Pocock – orders made difficult by an expected French assault on Jamaica, to intercept which Rodney had despatched ten ship-of-the-line under Commodore Sir James Douglas.

In the event, further intelligence confirmed that the French attack was not likely to take place and thus Commodore Douglas, aware of the all important nature of the Havana operation, decided to use his detached squadron to blockade the French base at Cape Francois, Saint Domingue, thus preventing the French and Spanish fleet from combining and possibly threatening the invasion force when it arrived.[lxii] Next Douglas despatched the Richmond to the Old Bahama Channel to prepare soundings and make sketches for the approach.

When Pocock arrived at Martinique he assumed supreme command and immediately requested Rodney (who was then ill) to provide him with all available intelligence. Orders were also sent to Commodore Douglas to join him on 12 May off Cape St. Nicolas (Douglas, however, did not receive these messages until 3 May, and although he quickly despatched orders to collect his squadron this still took a number of days).[lxiii] As Rodney and Monckton were on bad terms at this stage of the occupation of Martinique, Pocock and Albemarle were required to significantly re-organize the landing force, including the purchase of slaves from Martinique and elsewhere (as it was realized that Jamaica was unlikely to provide any) – and about 600 slaves were thus obtained.[lxiv] Pocock further upset Rodney by taking charge of the latter’s flagship, Marlborough, and consigning his staff to a smaller 64, before departing.[lxv] Rodney subsequently penned an agitated series of letters outbound, including one to the Prime Minister.[lxvi]

cubainvasionforce

The Havana invasion force departing Martinique, 6 May 1762 (not showing frigates, sloops, transports, etc).

keppel.jpg

Commodore Augustus Keppel by Joshua Reynolds, 1749. Keppel, aboard HMS Valiant, was Pocock’s second in command.

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Lt. General George Keppel, the Third Earl of Albermarle by Edward Fisher based on Joshua Reynolds, 1762

Pocock departed Martinique on 6 May and collected a trade convoy on its way to Jamaica, building the invasion fleet up to over 200 transports and 13 ships-of-the-line. The fleet arrived at Cape St. Nicolas on 17 May and collected what few of Commodore Douglas’ ships were in the area – the rest being still dispersed on blockade duties or re-victualing. The full squadron did not join Pocock until 25 May.[lxvii] Pocock’s complete force now consisted of 20 ship-of-the-line, a 50-gun cruiser, five frigates, three bomb vessels, a sloop, a cutter and the transports carrying 11,000 troops. Pocock allowed the merchants bound for Jamaica to depart (another indication of the powerful Port Royal merchant lobby’s influence) under the escort of HMS Centurion, with Commodore Douglas aboard.

Pocock, entrusted with a copy of Anson’s Spanish charts,[lxviii] and his own navigational experience from his time in the West Indies station, worked the invasion force around the dangerous north coast of Cuba, utilizing skilled navigators such as Captain Holmes in the sloop Bonetta and Captain Lindsay in the Trent, alongside the Lurcher to prepare the way. These vessels were in the process of scouting a route when they found Captain Elphinston of the Richmond on 29 May, who had completed his survey of the approach. A combination of sounding boats and coastal torch-fires to navigate allowed the fleet to sail through the Old Bahama Passage.[lxix]

Minor success occurred during this phase of the operation, such as on 2 June when Captain Alms in the Alarm captured the Spanish frigate Thetis and the storeship Phoenix.[lxx]

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Havana force passing through the Old Strait of Bahama towards Havana, 2 June 1762

maphavana

Map of Havana, showing location of Royal Navy operations: Pocock’s bombardment of the Chorea castle (left), the bombardment of the Morro fortress (centre) and Keppel and Albermarle’s landing (right); 1762.

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Detailed map of the same from David Syrett’s Navy Records Society volume on the capture of Havana

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Views of the harbour of Havana circa 1780, showing the harbour as entrance and exit.

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El Morro Fortress overlooking the entrance to Havana harbour today.

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Keppel covers Albermarle’s landing on 7 June 1762, by Dominic Serres.

Pocock arrived off Havana on 6 June and started the landing the following day, with Commodore Keppel – in fact Albemarle’s brother – in overall command. 3,963 soldiers and grenadiers, artillerymen and so forth were landed by 10:30 am. The light Spanish defences at the Coximar river delta were swept away by Keppel’s naval gunfire.[lxxi] While Keppel was carrying out this phase of the operation with his six of the line, Pocock moved with his 13 of the line past the harbour – where he identified 12 Spanish warships – and farther to the west, conducting a feint landing with the Royal Marines at his disposal. Meanwhile the Earl of Albermarle landed his complete force between the Boca Noa and Coximar rivers, supported by gunfire from Captain Harvey in the Dragon along with the sloops Mercury and Bonetta. On 8 June Pocock despatched frigates to scout for additional landing locations and to conduct soundings along the coast, in the process discovering that the Spanish had now sunk a blockship at the harbour entrance, followed by a second on 9 June.[lxxii]

The total Spanish force garrisoning Havana’s various redoubt and fortress environs was 2,800 – three regiments of infantry and a regiment of dragoons – regulars, marines and sailors (the Spanish Admiral in charge of the fleet in Havana harbour was one Hevia), 5,000 militia, 250 arsenal hands, and 600 freed slaves.[lxxiii]

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Pocock’s diversion bombardment of the Chorrera batteries, 11 June 1762

torreon-cojimar-la-habana

CHorea

The remains of the Terreon de la Chorrera today

After securing his position ashore, Albermarle informed Pocock that he intended to attack the La Cabana heights above the Morro fortress on the 10th, and so Pocock provided a diversion in the form of Captain Knight in the Belleisle, which, along with Cerebus, Mercury, Lurcher and Bonetta bombarded the Chorrera (Terreon de la Chorrera – Cojimar) castle. On the 11th at 1 pm Colonel Carleton, Albermarle’s Quarter-Master General, led the assault on La Cabana and carried the heights successfully. Major General William Keppel, the third Keppel brother, was now appointed to command the El Morro siege operation.

To follow up this success, Pocock ordered three bomb vessels and the sloops Edgar, Stirling Castle and Echo to attack the town of Havana. On 12 June the Spanish sunk yet another blockship, completely blockading the entrance to the harbour.

Battle of Havana by Serres

Havana: landing artillery, 30 June 1762, by Dominic Serres, c. 1770-1775

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Another view of the 30 June landing

On the 15th further landings were made, including 800 marines in two battalions, the first under Major Cambell and second under Major Collins. Another 1,200 troops were landed under Colonel Howe. A few days later mortars were landed from Thunder and Grenado, which began to bombard Morro on 20 June. Cannon were ashore and emplaced, adding their weight of shell to the attack.[lxxiv] In the meantime, Pocock tasked Keppel with deploying Dragon, Cambridge and Marlborough, together led by Captain Hervey, against the Morro, and their cannonade commenced on 1 July. The three ships suffered heavily from the fortress guns (of which there were 70), however, and were called off after six hours of shelling. Captain Goostrey of the Cambridge was killed.

For the remainder of July the Earl of Albermarle sieged the El Morro fortress – despite ever shortening supplies of water and ever increasing sick cases – but it wasn’t until 30 July that the exploding of a mine enabled the taking of the castle by assault, during which as many as 1,000 of the Spanish garrison were made casualties (130 killed, 27 wounded, 326 captured another 213 drowned while fleeing) and the Captain of the Morro fortress, Don Lewis de Velasco, was mortally wounded.[lxxv]

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Dragon, Cambridge and Marlborough bombarding Morro Castle, Havana, 1 July 1762 by Richard Paton

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Losses sustained during the shelling on 1 July.

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Flatboats assault Morro Castle, 30 July 1762, by Dominic Serres. Alcide (64) shown.

Pocock for his part continued to carry out his theatre-level operation, constantly in touch with frigates carrying information about movements around Cuba and Florida, covering the Jamaica convoys, and watching for the approach of expected American reinforcements (who arrived 28 July – although reduced by 500 men who were captured in their transports by the Comte de Blenac’s detached flotilla) and simultaneously managing the supply situation of the siege itself.[lxxvi]

Havana was now surrounded, and the Spanish governor, Don Juan de Prado, asked for terms on 11 August, surrendering two days later. 12 warships were captured, eight line-of-battle ships being fit for sea (the other three being the sunk blockships), as well as £3 million in the process,[lxxvii] with Pocock and Albermarle split to the tune of 1/3 of the total treasure; Pocock’s take amounting to £123,000. Pocock handed out rewards as well, and the flagship’s purser, master and carpenter were respectively made the storekeeper, master attendant and master shipwright of Havana.[lxxviii]

Havana 1762, Plate 11

British flatboats Entering Havana, 14 August 1762.  (note sunken blockship at harbour entrance)

Namur

The British fleet entering Havana, with HMS Namur, Pocock’s flagship, flying his pendent as Admiral of the Blue, 21 August 1762. Commodore Keppel leads his squadron in HMS Valiant at the left. By Dominic Serres, 1775.

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Capture of the Spanish fleet at Havana by Dominic Serres, 1768

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Spanish ships captured at Havana.

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The central plaza at Havana under British occupation following the successful siege, by Dominic Serres, c. 1765-70

The operation, however successful and profitable, had been costly, in particular in terms of sick cases resulting from the temperate climate and difficulty of the extended siege (560 army killed, 86 Royal Navy; and 4,708 army sick cases and 1,300 sailors).[lxxix] Anson, the architect of the plan, had died in London of a heart attack on 6 June, and thus never learned of the success of the campaign.[lxxx]

Pocock sailed for home but lost two ships and 12 transports as a result of stormy weather during the Atlantic crossing, reaching Spithead finally on 13 January 1763.

Sir George Pocock. PAF3685

Pocock at 56 as Knight of the Bath, Admiral of the Blue, & C-in-C Havana, October (25 March) 1762

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George Pocock as international celebrity: Chevalier de l’ordre du Bain, et Admiral de la flotte Britannique, fameux par les Explois sur les Mers des deux Indes

Legacy: An 18th Century Life

Pocock, now fabulously wealthy and internationally famous, purchased an estate at Mayfair, and, in 1764, bought the resplendent Orleans House at Twickenham. He married the widow Sophia Pitt Dent, together with whom he had a son, George (1765-1840; later the MP for Bridgwater and Baronet Pocock after 1821), and a daughter, Sophia (d. 1811), who married the Earl Powlet. Pocock retired in 1766 at the age of 60, returning to parliament where he notably voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act that February. Pocock, however, soon lost his seat in the 1768 election.[lxxxi] Pocock became master of Trinity House from 1786-1790, and was also vice-president of the Marine Society, his golden years noted for their public charity and serenity.

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The Orleans House at Twickenham, painted by Joseph Nickolls c. 1750

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The interior of the preserved Orleans House Gallery – the Octagon Room – as it stands today.

When Lally-Tollendal was captured – after the fall of Pondicherry – and sent to England, he pleaded that he might be introduced to Pocock, and, this request granted, is alleged to have spoken to the Admiral thus, “Dear Sir George, as the first man in your profession, I cannot but respect and esteem you, though you have been the greatest enemy I ever had. But for you, I should have triumphed in India, instead of being made a captive. When we first sailed out to give you battle, I had provided a number of musicians on board the Zodiaque, intending to give the ladies a ball upon our victory; but you left me only three fiddlers alive, and treated us all so roughly, that you quite spoiled us for dancing.”[lxxxii] Lally-Tollendal was traded back to France, where he was made a scapegoat for the failure in India, and executed at Paris on 9 May 1766.

Pocock outlived his erstwhile opponent of the East Indies, the Comte d’Ache, who died at Brest on 11 February 1780 at the age of 79.

Sir George Pocock, midshipman during the War of the Quadruple Alliance, commodore at the Leeward Islands during the War of Austrian Succession, master of the Indian Ocean and victor of Havana during the Seven Years War, Admiral of the Blue, died at Curzon Street, London, 3 April 1792 at the age of 86.

G.Pocock

Sir George Pocock memorial at Westminster Abbey. Beneath Pocock’s coat of arms (two seahorses abreast a lion, topped by the crest of an antelope issuing from a naval crown, with motto, “Faithful to the King and Kingdom”), sits a majestic Britannia, confidently grasping a thunderbolt, her left arm resting on a profile showing Pocock’s distinctive Mona Lisa smile. Commissioned by George Pocock, esquire, and sculpted by John Bacon in 1796. Sir George is buried at St. Mary’s Church, Twickenham.

Notes

[i] James Stanier Clarke and John McArthur, eds., The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII, 2010th ed. (Cambridge University Press, 1802)., p. 442

[ii] Tom Pocock, “Pocock, Sir George (1706-1792),” The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).

[iii] John D. Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2016)., p. 104

[iv] Pocock, “Pocock, Sir George (1706-1792).”

[v] List of Royal Navy Post Captains, 1714-1830, Navy Records Society online.

[vi] J. J. Colledge and Ben Warlow, Ships of the Royal Navy, The Complete Record of All Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Philadelphia & Newbury: Casemate, 2010)., p. 10

[vii] Clarke and McArthur, The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII., p. 442

[viii] Colledge and Warlow, Ships of the Royal Navy, The Complete Record of All Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy., p. 390

[ix] Brian Lavery, The Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War, 1600-1815 (London: Conway Maritime Press, Ltd., 1998)., p. 119

[x] N. A. M. Rodger, The Command of the Ocean (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006)., p. 412; Robert Gardiner and Brian Lavery, eds., The Line of Battle: The Sailing Warship 1650-1840, Conway’s History of the Ship (London: Conway Maritime Press, 2004)., p. 19

[xi] Richard F. Simpson, “The Naval Career of Admiral Sir George Pocock, K. B., 1743-1763” (Indiana University, 1950)., p.2

[xii] Richard Harding, “Legge, Edward (1710-1747),” The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).

[xiii] Herbert Richmond, The Navy In The War of 1739-48, vol. 3, 3 vols. (Cambridge University Press, 1920)., p. 70

[xiv] Clarke and McArthur, The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII., p. 443

[xv] Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 103; see also Hawke to Corbett, 17 October 1747, in Ruddock Mackay, ed., The Hawke Papers, A Selection: 1743 – 1771, Navy Records Society 129 (Aldershot, Hants: Scolar Press, 1990)., p. 51-55

[xvi] Richmond, The Navy In The War of 1739-48., p. 72

[xvii] Clarke and McArthur, The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII., p. 443; Martin Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Seven Years War (London: I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2016)., loc. 1272

[xviii] Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Seven Years War., loc. 1300

[xix] Robson., loc. 1300

[xx] Robson., loc. 1323

[xxi] Pocock, “Pocock, Sir George (1706-1792).” Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Seven Years War., loc. 1341

[xxii] A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660 – 1783 (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1987)., p. 306

[xxiii] Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 275

[xxiv] William Laird Clowes, The Royal Navy, A History From the Earliest Times to the Present, vol. 3, 5 vols. (London: Sampson Low, Marston and Company, 1898)., p. 565

[xxv] Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Seven Years War., loc. 1347

[xxvi] Jonathan R. Dull, The French Navy and the Seven Years’ War (University of Nebraska: Thomson-Shore, Inc., 2005)., loc. 1847

[xxvii] Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Seven Years War., loc. 1368

[xxviii] Clarke and McArthur, The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII., p. 445

[xxix]  Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660 – 1783., p. 307

[xxx] Clarke and McArthur, The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII., p. 446

[xxxi] Dull, The French Navy and the Seven Years’ War., loc. 1847

[xxxii] Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Seven Years War., loc. 1401

[xxxiii] Dull, The French Navy and the Seven Years’ War., loc. 1847

[xxxiv]  Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660 – 1783., p. 308

[xxxv] Clarke and McArthur, The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII., p. 446

[xxxvi] N. A. M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (London: Fontana Press, 1988)., p. 247

[xxxvii] Clarke and McArthur, The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII., p. 447

[xxxviii] Clarke and McArthur., p. 448

[xxxix] Clarke and McArthur., p. 449

[xl] Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Seven Years War., loc. 1401

[xli] Clowes, The Royal Navy, A History From the Earliest Times to the Present., p. 181

[xlii] Sam Willis, Fighting at Sea in the Eighteenth Century: The Art of Sailing Warfare (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2008)., p. 206

[xliii] Dull, The French Navy and the Seven Years’ War., loc. 1839

[xliv] Clowes, The Royal Navy, A History From the Earliest Times to the Present., p. 181

[xlv] Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660 – 1783., p. 310

[xlvi] Julian Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy (London: The Folio Society, 2001)., p. 452-3

[xlvii] Clarke and McArthur, The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII., p. 451

[xlviii] Willis, Fighting at Sea in the Eighteenth Century: The Art of Sailing Warfare., p. 207

[xlix] Clarke and McArthur, The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII., p. 451-4

[l] Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy., p. 337

[li] Rodger., p. 289

[lii] Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy., p. 456-7

[liii] John Malcolm, Robert, Lord Clive: Collected from the Family Papers Communicated by the Earl of Powis, Kindle, vol. 1, 3 vols. (London: John Murray, 1836).

[liv] Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy., p. 461-2

[lv] Lawrence James, Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1997)., p. 43

[lvi]  Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 285

[lvii] Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy., p. 546

[lviii] David Syrett, The Siege and Capture of Havana, 1762 (London: Spottiswoode, Ballantyne and Co. Ltd., 1970)., p. xv, also #64 Albemarle to Egremont, Portsmouth, 22 February, p. 51

[lix] Syrett., p. xiv

[lx] Syrett., p. xiv

[lxi] Alexander Howlett, “Captain Charles Middleton and the Seven Years’ War,” Canadian War Studies Association (blog), December 31, 2016, https://cawarstudies.wordpress.com/2016/12/31/captain-charles-middleton-and-the-seven-years-war/.

[lxii] Syrett, The Siege and Capture of Havana, 1762., p. xvi-xvii

[lxiii] Syrett., #143, Pocock to Douglas, 26 April, p. 98-9

[lxiv] Syrett., p. xvi-xviii

[lxv] Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy., p. 553; see also David Syrett, ed., The Rodney Papers, Volume I, 1742 – 1763, vol. 1, Navy Records Society 148 (Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2005)., #876, Rodney to Clevland, 27 May 1762, p. 452-3

[lxvi]  Syrett, The Rodney Papers, Volume I, 1742 – 1763., #879, Rodney to Newcastle, 1 June 1762, p. 456-7

[lxvii] Syrett, The Siege and Capture of Havana, 1762., p. xix

[lxviii] Andrew Lambert, Admirals (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 2009)., p. 153

[lxix] Clarke and McArthur, The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII., p. 456

[lxx] Clarke and McArthur., p. 456

[lxxi] Syrett, The Siege and Capture of Havana, 1762., p. xxiii

[lxxii] Clarke and McArthur, The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII., p. 457

[lxxiii] Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy., p. 562 fn

[lxxiv] Clarke and McArthur, The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII., p. 458

[lxxv] Pocock, “Pocock, Sir George (1706-1792).”; Clarke and McArthur, The Naval Chronicle, Volume VIII., p. 460

[lxxvi] Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy., p. 566-9

[lxxvii] Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 222

[lxxviii] Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy., p. 287

[lxxix] Herbert Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1946).

[lxxx] N. A. M. Rodger, “Anson, George, Baron Anson (1697-1762),” The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).

[lxxxi] Pocock, “Pocock, Sir George (1706-1792).”

[lxxxii] George Godfrey Cunningham, A History of England in the Lives of Englishmen, vol. 5 (London: A. Fullarton and Co., 1853)., p. 412

Reflections on the 2017 McMullen Naval History Symposium

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This year’s biennial McMullen Naval History Symposium, hosted by the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, was a total success. This world-class conference featured a plethora of fascinating panels on subjects ranging from contemporary Canadian naval policy to Julius Caesar’s appreciation of naval power. As always, with a conference of this scale involving hundreds of historians and participants, any one person is only able to see a fraction of the total panels, so individual experience does matter. The conference was not generally digitized, thus, reflections from the participants provide the only method for intersubjectively preserving the experience itself, and there have already been (David Morgan-Owen) several (Trent Hone) contributions (Matthew Eng) in that regard.

The conference was organized by the vigilant Commander Benjamin “BJ” Armstrong, one of the “New Young Turks” relentlessly in pursuit of greater historical appreciation amongst the cadets and midshipmen of the growing United States Navy, not to mention a senior editor with the all-star blog, War on the Rocks. Commander Armstrong also edited the “21st Century” Mahan and Sims volumes for the US Naval Institute Press. The major themes at this years conference were the First World War (naturally enough considering the centenary), global and imperial history, seapower in the Age of Sail, the Asian and the Pacific theatres, the Second World War, naval education, and the evolution of naval technology in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Day One: September 14, 2017

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From left to right: Panel Chair John Beeler, Louis Halewood, Alex Howlett, and David Kohnen (photo credit, Tim Choi)

I was a presenter on one of the first panels, along with Louis Halewood and David Kohnen. My paper on the Royal Naval Air Service and the development of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) 1917-1918, examined the impact of changing administration during wartime, and the organizational learning that took place in an unprecedented and high-technology environment. Louis Halewood described his research on the development of the Anglo-American theory of geostrategy, raising the prospect of the pre-1914 “Imperial Superstate” concept, notably diagnosed by historians such as Carroll Quigley, and Ramsay Muir. Louis Halewood introduced the influential work of luminaries such as Hartford Mackinder, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Julian Corbett, Spencer Wilkinson, and Lord Milner, theorists of naval and military power, strategy and imperial defence, who would all reappear with regularity in the politically charged panels and discussions to follow. Ultimately, the unity of the Wilsonian Anglo-American alliance broke down in the interwar period, in no small measure due to the challenge to British naval supremacy from the United States, in the process destroying the Anglo-Japanese alliance, with profound implications for Britain’s role in the Second World War.

David Kohnen discussed his research on the Knox-Pye-King report, a significant paper published in the United States Naval Institute Proceedings in 1920, bringing to the US Navy (USN) the strategic focus which had been raised in the British school, in particular, by the pre-war historians John Laughton, Julian Corbett, and Captain Herbert Richmond. Captains Ernie King, Dudley Knox and William Pye had been influenced by the irresistible force of Admiral William Sims, one of the significant contributors to the argument in favour of introducing trans-Atlantic convoys, a deciding factor in the victory over the U-boats in 1917-1918. David Kohnen argued that the modern USN had a worrying predilection for defaulting to technological dogma, with the result of the Navy utilizing the acronym saturated language of the Defense Department to stress uncritical “warfighting” instead of historical engagement and peacekeeping as the basis for doctrine.

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Right to left: Panel chair Caitlin Gale, presenters Anna Brinkman, David Morgan-Owen, Paul Ramsey, and commentator Andrew Lambert (photo credit, Tim Choi)

With turn of the century grand strategy on my mind, I moved to the panel specifically examining British foreign policy, with the first paper given by Anna Brinkman (of Imperial Entanglements fame), on Britain’s strategy for managing Spain during the Seven Years War, a complex subject that relied on the interaction between significant stakeholders, Britain and Spain’s differing conceptions of the law of the sea, and the emerging balance of power in Europe. David Morgan-Owen, the brains behind the Defence-in-Depth blog, next brought the discussion into the 19th and 20th centuries by examining Britain’s evolving European and global situation, a subject that hinges on the the sticky topic of imperial and homeland defence, explored further in David’s new book. The expansion of the Committee for Imperial Defence by Prime Minister Arthur Balfour in 1904 was a watershed moment, ultimately leading to the development of conflicting army and naval strategies during the government of Herbert Asquith. Lastly, Paul Ramsey examined Spenser Wilkinson’s debate with historian Julian Corbett about the proper relation of Britain’s foreign and military policy to national strategy, a historically and politically charged sparring played out in the popular press. Professor Andrew Lambert, who was the panel commentator, observed the intricate connections between the papers, with Corbett, a scholar of the Seven Years War and Russo-Japanese War, visualizing Britain’s naval role as a component of an integrated system that only made sense once the land dynamic, with a debt to Clausewitz and Jomini, was integrated.

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Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson announces the winners of the CNO’s inaugural Naval History Essay Contest (photo credit, Tim Choi)

With this auspicious start, the conference was on a sound footing. I enjoyed lunch in the beautiful Bo Coppedge Room, at the Alumni Hall, where I had an enjoyable conversation with a young officer and naval scholar on the fascinating subjects of Athens versus Sparta, US Marine Corps culture, and the recent Graham Allison book, The Thucydides Trap, concerning the possibility of American conflict with China in the 21st century. I was impressed with the student’s insight, candor, and breadth of knowledge, all of which I found refreshing (as was the key-lime cheesecake). Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson then presented the awards to the winners of the inaugural Naval History Essay Contest, which promised to raise the bar for scholarly research amongst historians and practitioners alike.

After lunch we headed to the final panel for the first day, again focused on British naval policy in the 19th century. By this point the conference was beginning to resemble a choose your own type of adventure. This was both an advantage and disadvantage of the conference’s scale and international reach. Breaking out of my own area of interest was certainly possible, with simultaneous panels taking place on American, South American, and Second World War naval history, all of which would have been fascinating to attend, if not especially related to my research focus. The conference organizers did the attendees a service by arranging the panels in such a manner that overlap was minimal and it was a fairly straightforward process to figure out which panel was the best choice for my own preferences.

This panel was chaired by John Mitcham, and the first paper was presented by John Beeler, the editor of the Navy Record Society’s Milne papers, on the subject of the Liberal party’s naval policy during the late 19th century. Beeler, who literally wrote the book on the subject, argued that the questionable choices of the Liberal party in terms of naval policy were an indication of a lack of clear strategic thinking, compared to Salisbury’s vision. The nuances of the political situation was emphasized by Peter Keeling, who followed this thread by specifically expanding on the Liberal party’s 1889 Naval Defence Act with original research that examined who voted for and against the Act, and why. Presenting the last paper of the day, Rebecca Matzke, in a fascinating paper reminiscent of the work of Michael Neiberg, discussed the efforts of British propagandists to influence American public perception of the Royal Navy’s war effort, in particular, as it related to the Royal Navy’s blockade and Germany’s counter-blockade (the unrestricted U-boat campaign). Taken together, this panel explored the interrelation of optics, how public support is galvanized by policymakers and NGOs, and the realities of budgetary and geostrategic constraints, firmly recognizing that military policy is never formed in a vacuum, and more often than not, is the result of a complex patchwork of influence.

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James Goldrick delivers the 2017 McMullen Sea Power address in Mahan Hall, (photo credit, Tim Choi)

Thus we adjourned for day one. The next event was the McMullen Sea Power address to be held later that evening in the appropriately named Mahan Hall. Taking advantage of the warm evening air while moving between buildings, I stopped the always approachable James Goldrick for a brief discussion that touched on wide-ranging concepts such as Britain’s anti-submarine defence in the First World War, Germany’s strategic bombing campaigns in two world wars, and the origins of aircraft carrier strike doctrine. I was impressed as always by Professor Goldrick’s erudition. In this spirit of historical reflection, the conference participants made their way over to the fantastic US Naval Academy Museum. After touring amongst the excellent warship models and artifact displays, discussing defence policy with friends, I was stunned into a moment of clarity by news which spread like fire between the attendees that North Korea had launched yet another long-range missile, dramatically bringing home the importance of the subjects we had discussed, in otherwise academic detachment, throughout the day.

Not much more than an hour later I was sitting on the balcony of Mahan Hall watching Rear-Admiral (retired) Goldrick, Royal Australian Navy, deliver the formal 2017 Sea Power address. Professor Goldrick delivered his keynote directly to the young midshipmen sitting across from me on both wings of the balcony, and strove to reconcile the need for thorough professionalism within military education, transcending technological determinism, while also avoiding the other end of the spectrum, ivory tower detachment, a synthesis rare enough amongst long-time scholars yet also essential to the future of service culture: the next generation of young scholar-officers.

Day Two: September 15, 2017

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From left to right: Trent Hone, Wes Hammond, and John Miller, USN.

With three excellent panels on Anglo-American and imperial naval history behind me, I decided to start off day two on a slightly different tact. There would be four panels to see, and I felt it was time to broaden the discussion by revisiting some areas of interest from my previous academic work. Easing into things I visited the panel highlighting some of the winners of the CNO’s essay contest, starting with Trent Hone’s analysis of operational learning by the USN at Guadalcanal in 1942. Hone argued that the Navy, with a strong foundation in historical education and doctrine, derived from the inter-war period and First World War, was well situated to adapt to operational disasters such as the Battle of Savo Island, enabling the Navy to reverse-course and ultimately out think the Imperial Japanese Navy. Lieutenant John Miller then read his case-study analysis of training failure, notably looking at the USS Stark, USS Panay, and USS Chesapeake incidents, concluding that readiness can only be achieved by a thorough understanding of not only ship and crew capability, but also, significantly, environmental awareness, the multifaceted elements of which can only be mastered through carefully cultivated experience and preparation, frequently missing in a high-tempo, rapid deployment situation. Wes Hammond then expanded on this subject by observing the importance of mobile basing, stressing the element of fleet logistics, repair and salvage, upon which all other elements are reliant. An important theme uniting these papers, explored in the panel discussion, was the recognition that contemporary naval affairs are defined by questions with historical antecedents. The notion of having, “been here before” was startling, and a clear reminder of the importance of historical investigation prior to framing naval policy.

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From left to right: Dr. Nicholas Lambert, Alan Anderson, James Smith and G. H. Bennet

The fifth panel was chaired by the Naval Academy’s own Dr. Nicholas Lambert and featured papers by G. H. Bennet, Alan Anderson and James Smith. This panel took a sweeping look at the Admiralty as a political and educational organization in the 20th century. Plymouth University’s Bennet presented on the unique subject of ship and naval station libraries, a critical component in naval education that at first glance might appear parochial, yet, like many of the papers presented, once explored in detail provided rich insight. Bennet’s research explored the organic knowledge networks that developed aboard ships as crew and officers traded and circulated books, while providing a warning evidenced by the decline of these networks during the transformation of the Royal Navy as budgets tightened in the 20th century. Alan Anderson followed up by examining the seemingly bizarre decision of the Admiralty to promulgate the Declaration of London in 1909, and the implications this would have for Britain’s blockade strategy in 1914. Anderson, who has been critical of Nicholas Lambert’s work on British blockade theory, argued that in fact the Admiralty gained significant concessions from the Declaration, notably including affirmations on the illegality of shipping “absolute contraband” in times of war, while simultaneously shoring up neutral shipping rights, essential components of the Royal Navy’s historical mission as safeguard of the seas. James Smith (of the Seapower Thinker blog) built upon these papers with his criticism of the introduction of the Ministry of Defence by the Earl Mountbatten, who was Chief of the Defence staff for six years, starting in July 1959. Smith argued that Mountbatten’s personal ambitions led him to undermine Britain’s traditional maritime focus, relegating the senior service to equality with the RAF and Army, thus stripping the Navy of its institutional power, which had been carefully built up over hundreds of years.

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The Battle of Virginia Capes, 1781

Controversy continued to abound in the two finals panels, both of which I attended out of interest. The first was focused on the Battle of Virginia Capes, 5 September 1781, and second on Japanese naval policy in the 20th century. This was a trip back in time for me, as I had previously written my Masters thesis on the culminating naval battle of the American Revolution, as well as my undergraduate thesis on the only decisive naval battle of the ironclad age, the Battle of Tsushima, 27 May 1905. The first of these panels was known colloquially as the Naval War College panel, featuring papers drawn entirely from that fine institution. Chaired by the College’s John Hattendorf, James Holmes presented the first paper, an insightful strategic analysis of Britain’s naval policy during the Revolutionary War. Holmes argued that Admiralty decision-making ultimately led to the abandonment of the American colonies in favour of protecting the more profitable imperial territories in the Caribbean and India, and seen from the perspective of grand strategy, was reflective of the concept of “antifragility” which helped to explain the Admiralty’s thinking. Holmes provided a broad framework that was then detailed by Jim McIntyre’s paper, examining the egodocuments of Hessian mercenary Johann Ewald, who witnessed the siege of Yorktown. The presentation of Stanley Carpenter flowed naturally from this point, providing a thorough analysis of the Royal Navy’s tactics at the Battle of the Capes itself, with particular attention to the Graves-Hood controversy that emerged. I was pleased to see, eight years after completing my thesis on the subject, Lord Hood receiving the criticism he rightly deserves for failing to bring battle decisively against the Comte de Grasse’s fleet when ordered so by Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves. The discussion after this panel was particularly insightful, with John Hattendorf moderating a lively debate about the vagaries of timing, strategic movements, and the many “mistakes” made, for example, by Lord Cornwallis, who should have known better than to allow his Carolina offensive to become locked up in a position from which the only possible escape was by sea.

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Dr. Alessio Patalano presenting on Japan’s Cold War submarine policy, (photo credit: Tim Choi)

The final panel I attended was presented by Andrew Blackley, covering the lessons of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5, in particular the Battle of the Yalu, followed by presentations from Masashi Kurarni, Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, looking at the Japanese contribution to the Mediterranean in 1917, and finally, by Alessio Patalano, who introduced the Self Defense Force’s submarine policy during the early Cold War. Andrew Blackley argued that Japan’s naval doctrine of rapid-fire close attack proved decisive in two major naval wars, indeed, demonstrating significant flexibility when faced with technical faults or warship losses. Flexibility was further indicated by Masashi Kurarni’s paper, showcasing Japan’s significant international alliance contribution to the anti-submarine war in 1917-1918, providing insight into the under-examined U-boat campaign in the Mediterranean. In keeping with these themes, Alessio Patalano presented the final paper, kindly aware of his duty to move quickly prior to the conference’s conclusion. Patalano observed that Japan’s strategy of core-competency paid dividends when the submarine began to take on a more significant role in Japan’s defence planning. The JMSDF was able to retain capability despite political, budgetary, and strategic transformation on an unprecedented scale.

The conference concluded back at the official symposium hotel where the 2017 Knox Awards Banquet was held, during which Dr. Edward J. Marolda, Commander Paul Stillwell and Dr. Jon T. Sumida were presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their stellar and dedicated contributions to naval history.

In conclusion, I was struck by the inspiring collegiality of this professional, academic conference. It serves the historians well to leave their monk-like confines to engage with the free-flow of ideas that historical symposiums inculcate. Between the brilliant and inspiring papers it was a real pleasure to be included in debate that frequently involved world-class subject experts and naval practitioners. In short, this was a transformative experience I highly recommend to anyone considering attending the next Symposium in 2019.

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The Hawker Osprey

INTER WAR BRITISH AIRCRAFT

Osprey Mark IV conversion, photographed at the Aircraft Armament Experimental Establishment, Martlesham Heath. This advanced Osprey had been designed to fulfill Air Ministry Specification 26/35, naval fighter/reconnaissance.

The Hawker Osprey was the naval version of the Hawker Hart/Hind: a two seater light bomber designed by the Air Ministry for Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy, to complement the Hawker Nimrod, the naval version of the Hawker Hornet/Fury single seat fighter. Considered the most important RAF acquisition between 1918 and 1936, the Hart and its numerous variants defined the interwar period, becoming the Air Ministry’s single most widely produced aircraft. The Hart and Hornet had been designed to take advantage of the improvements in engine technology that had occurred ten years after the First World War, notably, the newly designed Rolls-Royce Kestrel V-12 inline of 1925.

The Fleet Air Arm (FAA) of the Royal Air Force had been formed in April 1924, effectively recreating the carrier wing of the Royal Naval Air Service, as it had existed at the time of its dissolution, six years prior, in April 1918. Under the new compromise, the Admiralty would control the FAA operationally, with the Navy and Royal Marines providing the majority of pilots, as well as all observers, gunners and wireless operators, and the Admiralty delivering its aircraft requirements to the Air Ministry.[i] In October 1924, the FAA was composed of 18 Flights, totaling 128 aircraft: Blackburn Blackburns (torpedo bomber), Avro Bisons (bomber/spotter) and Fairey Flycatchers (fighter), in addition to seaplanes.[ii] Although the wartime giant Sopwith corporation had gone under in the 1920s, the legacy of the 1 ½ Strutter ultimately lived on in the form of the Osprey.

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Wing Commander Richard Bell Davies takes off from HMS Argus in his Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter in October 1918. The Hawker Osprey filled the same role, functioning as a general purpose, two seat, carrier scout-bomber.

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The single seat Fairey Flycatcher fighter, seen here fitted with floats at the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, Felixstowe.

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The Avro Bison, a four man gunfire spotter and bomber, replaced by the Osprey in the 1930s.

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Restored Hawker Demon today.

The Hart was the fighter-bomber variant of the two seater Demon, itself a modified Hornet/Fury/Nimrod, which, for the Hart and Osprey, effectively meant exchanging the second Vickers gun in the fighter, for the bombsight and gear of the light-bomber. Indeed, the Hart had been designed to fill the role of Single-Engined Day Bomber (SEDB), Specification 12/26, for which it competed against the Avro Antelope and Fairey Fox II in 1928.[iii] This was the year that the Fleet Air Arm was due to receive new aircraft, First Sea Lord David Beatty having delayed the upgrades from the 1926-27 Naval Estimate for reasons of economy.[iv] The Hawker line would go on, in 1933, to replace the Flycatcher fighter with the Hawker Nimrod, the naval version of the twin Vickers gunned Fury single-seater. The Hawker Horsley had also been adopted for the 1928 estimate as a torpedo bomber, a role likewise considered for Hawker Harrier as per Specification 23/25 in February 1927.[v]

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The Hawker Hart prototype, showing the Osprey variants- with folding wings (top right) and floats (bottom left). The Osprey had been designed to fulfill the RAF’s 21/34 Specification for a fleet spotter and reconnaissance aircraft.

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Hawker Harts being manufactured at the Hawker facility, Kingston, (top) and by Vickers Ltd., by sub-contract.

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Late model Rolls-Royce Kestrel XVI, the 21-litre 1,295 cu V12 water-cooled inline was first developed as an Air Ministry project to replicate the single-block architecture of the  18-litre American D-12 Curtiss during 1925-6. Kestrel variants could generate between 500 (IB model) and 600 hp (V model), and as much as 750 horsepower in the supercharged Peregrine derivative. This was the direct predecessor of the legendary 27-litre 1,650 cu (1,100 hp) P.V.12 (Merlin), utilized in the Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire and North American Mustang.

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The Hart/Osprey was equipped with a Mk. III Lewis gun and a single .303 Mk. II Vickers gun with C. C. synchronizing gear, which allowed the machine gun to be fired directly through the aircraft propeller. From The Armament of British Aircraft 1909 – 1939, by H. F. King, p. 235.

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Firing the Hart’s Vickers gun.

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The Hawker style Scarff ring for the observer’s Lewis gun.

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Part of the naval adaptations, other than folding wings and floats in the seaplane conversion, was the added Kiddle-Lux floatation bags attached to the upper plane wings.

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Line drawing of Hawker Hart by James Goulding, from Francis Mason’s Profile Publications volume 57.

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Two seater Hawker Demon with Osprey seaplane. The Demon was a two seat fighter variant of the Hart/Fury designed for the RAF. Note the seemingly interchangeable design.

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Squadron of Demon biplanes.

The Ospreys were first introduced to Flights No. 404 and 409 in November 1932, and No. 407 (seaplane) Flight had its Fairey IIIFs replaced by Ospreys for work with the cruisers of the Home Fleet. Ospreys also served in Flights 403, 406, 407, 443, 444, and 447. The Ospreys then joined Squadrons 800, 801, 802 and 803 when the FAA squadrons were re-formed in 1933.[x] Eventually the Squadrons were systematized, so that fighters (Nimrods) filled the 800s, FSR (Ospreys) the 810s and TSR (Horsleys) the 820s, each aircraft squadron colour-coded to the ship it was aboard: red for Courageous, yellow for Glorious, green for Eagle and black for Hermes.[xi] At the beginning of 1936 there were three Ospreys aboard Courageous, three aboard Furious, six on Eagle, three on Glorious, while there were another 34 seaplanes and other aircraft aboard 29 Royal Navy warships (144 aircraft in the entire FAA).[xii] Late generation Ospreys were still aboard HMS Ark Royal in 1939, when they were replaced by Blackburn Skua fighter/dive-bombers.

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Hawker Ospreys from No. 800 Squadron aboard HMS Ark Royal shortly before September 1939, from British Naval Aviation by Ray Sturtivant, p. 27

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Osprey showing folding wings.

In sum, 132 Ospreys served with the Fleet Air Arm, some ending their careers as seaplanes, having worked aboard the cruisers of the Royal Navy, others as trainer aircraft during the Second World War.

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Ospreys conducting a night sortie aboard HMS Courageous in 1935, from Hugh Popham, Into Wind, p. 112

Captain Richard Bell Davies, who returned to the Royal Navy after the formation of the RAF, was critical of the Osprey only in terms of its suitability as a seaplane: he believed a slower, more robust and specialized, aircraft was required.[xiii] Indeed, it was during the 1930s, as wartime learning began to be forgotten, and radical technological developments accelerated, that the Admiralty attempted to simplify its requirements, down to essentially two airplanes: Torpedo, Spotter, Reconnaissance (TSR), and fighter/dive-bomber, plus seaplanes, thus losing the pure naval fighter role.[xiv] Whereas technical homogeneity during the disarmament period of the decade following 1918, and Air Ministry control of production, meant that invariably the FAA was going to have to make due with imperfect aircraft, the excellence of the Hawker design meant relative success in terms of roles: single seat fighter (Fairey Flycatcher, then Hawker Nimrod), two seat bomber/spotter/reconnaissance + seaplane (Hawker Osprey), torpedo bomber (Horsley): in effect, Hawker aircraft had become the entire RAF, and indeed most of the FAA, so far as single engine aircraft was concerned. In this regard Sydney Camm had come close to achieving the dream of efficiency sought by defence planners ever since, that is, the production of a single aircraft that, with slight modification, could fulfill every role.

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Hawker Osprey seaplane aboard cruiser HMS Enterprise off Palestine in 1936.

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Osprey Mk3 launching from HMS Sussex.

Ultimately, the Hart and Osprey, designed ten years after the First World War, were representative of the last decade of inter-service cooperation before the defence upheavals of the 1930s. Although in 1928 the Fleet Air Arm was still controlled by the RAF, responsibly was shared with the Royal Navy through the arrangement that became known as dual control.[xv] This system was maintained, although its existence in terms of utility for the Navy was doomed in so far as the FAA officers, holding RAF rank, were unlikely to advance beyond flight lieutenants: this was at least partly why the Squadrons were formed in 1933, to provide billets for 16 Squadron rank officers.[xvi] The history of the FAA has perhaps never been more controversial than it was during the third decade of the 20th century. Despite the administrative conflict, the second decade had left the FAA in good condition, concluding with the development of the Hawker Hart and Osprey, thus beginning the 1930s on a hopeful note.

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Hawker Osprey Mark I flying above HMS Eagle,

Ospreys had been hunted to extinction in Britain by 1916, however, Scandinavian Ospreys recolonized Scotland starting in 1954. A joint English Nature and Scottish Natural Heritage project successfully reintroduced the Osprey to the England Midlands, at the beginning of the 21st century, starting at Rutland was reintroduced to England in 2001.

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Rutland Osprey #30 (female), seen here in 2015; ZeroF the descendant of Osprey #09 (male), below.

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[i] Bill Finnis, The History of the Fleet Air Arm: From Kites to Carriers (Longden Road, Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2000)., p. 26

[ii] Reginald Longstaff, The Fleet Air Arm: A Pictorial History (London: Robert Hale Ltd., 1981)., p. 93

[iii] H. F. King, Armament of British Aircraft, 1909-1939 (London: Putnam & Company Limited, 1971)., p. 235

[iv] Stephen Roskill, Admiral of the Fleet Earl Beatty: The Last Naval Hero (New York: Antheneum, 1981)., p. 355

[v] King, Armament of British Aircraft, 1909-1939., p. 229, 232

[vi] Francis Mason, The Hawker Hart, Profile Publications 57 (London: Profile Publications Ltd., n.d.)., p. 3

[vii] Ibid., p. 4

[viii] Kev Darling, Fleet Air Arm Carrier War: The History of British Naval Aviation (Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Aviation, 2009)., p. 329 – 30; King, Armament of British Aircraft, 1909-1939., p. 237

[ix] Darling, Fleet Air Arm Carrier War: The History of British Naval Aviation., p. 334

[x] Longstaff, The Fleet Air Arm: A Pictorial History., p. 100

[xi] Ibid., p. 101

[xii] Ibid., p. 102

[xiii] Richard Bell Davies, Sailor in the Air: The Memoirs of the World’s First Carrier Pilot (Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Seaforth Publishing, 2008)., p. 224

[xiv] Geoffrey Till, Air Power and the Royal Navy, 1914-1945, A Historical Survey (London: Jane’s Publishing Company, 1979)., p. 103; Hugh Popham, Into Wind (Pitman Press, Bath: Hamish Hamilton Ltd., 1969)., p. 110

[xv] Bryan Ranft, ed., The Beatty Papers: Volume II, 1916-1927, vol. 2, 2 vols., Navy Records Society 132 (Brookfield, Vermont: Ashgate Publishing Company, 1993)., p. 228

[xvi] Eric Grove, The Royal Navy since 1815 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)., p. 174

 

Captain Charles Middleton and the Seven Years’ War

Admiral Sir Charles Middleton, the Seven Years’ War, and Naval Administration

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HMS Barham presentation badge in 1914.

The Royal Navy career of Charles Middleton spanned three wars, from the Seven Years’ War, to the American Revolution, through the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. During the first of these, Captain Middleton was engaged in trade protection and anti-privateering duty in the Leeward Islands. The future Comptroller of the Navy, then a lowly frigate commander, sailing in the 28 gun HMS Emerald, spent four years countering French commerce privateers. Middleton was considered somewhat of a disciplinarian and social climber, but also a promising administrator in a far-flung but crucial colonial posting in the Caribbean during the Seven Years’ War. Middleton’s early career has been described as a typical RN officer’s career.[i]

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The Right Honourable Sir Charles Middleton, 1st Baron Barham, Admiral of the Red, engraving by Marie Anne Bourlier, 12 October 1809, from a drawing by John Downman.

This post examines Admiral Charles Middleton’s career and achievements during the early phase, primarily concerning Captain Middleton’s role as a frigate commander during the Seven Years’ War, leading up to his appointment as Comptroller of the Navy in August 1778.

After the Seven Years’ War, Middleton seemed to have fulfilled his duty, and was prepared to retire.[ii] Fate, as it would have it, ensured that Middleton would yet return to the centres of power and play an unexpected, but decisive, role in the Royal Navy’s history. After his service in the Caribbean as a frigate commander and station administrator, Middleton went on to become a reformer and modernizer during the American Revolution, as Comptroller of the Navy. Rear-Admiral Middleton, raised to the peerage as Lord Barham, returned to power as Senior Naval Lord and eventually First Lord of the Admiralty at the time of Trafalgar in 1805.

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London in 1751 by Thomas Bowles 

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Career of Charles Middleton until 1778

The Navy

Charles Middleton was born at Leith, Edinburgh, on 14 October 1726, the second son of Robert Middleton and Helen Dundas. Helen was the great-granddaughter of Robert Dundas, Lord Arniston, while Robert, the father, was a descendant of Alexander Middleton, the brother of John, the Earl Middleton, and made his living as a customs official in Bo’ness, West Lothian, Scotland. Charles Middleton joined the Navy at a young age, credited with service aboard the merchantman Loyal June (1738-41), starting when he was eleven- although this could have been a paper assignment only, as was often the case with young officers. Middleton joined his first warship, prophetically, HMS Sandwich (90), in April 1741 at the age of 14, and shortly afterward he followed its Captain, Mead, to the Duke (90), then joined the 20 gun frigate Flamborough under Captain Joseph Hamar on 21 November 1741, for service in North America and the West Indies.

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Cape Corso fortress, Gold Coast, as it appeared in 1745, not long before Lt. Charles Middleton, while serving aboard HMS Chesterfield, was stranded there by mutineers in October 1748,

Just shy of four years of apprenticeship as a captain’s servant, midshipman and master’s mate aboard HMS Flamborough, and only ten days before his 19th birthday, Middleton passed his Lieutenant’s examination on 4 October 1745, and, the following month, was appointed to the 5th rate HMS Chesterfield (40), patrolling the channel and the coast of Sierra Leone.[iii] Middleton, 22 years old, was there in 1748, when on 15 October, at the notorious slave trading site, the Cape Corso fortress in Ghana, Middleton, along with the Chesterfield’s Captain (O’Brien Dudley), Master, 2nd Lieutenant, purser, surgeon, and 11 other men, were stranded by a mutiny amongst the ship’s crew and remaining officers. The mutineers were led by a buccaneering carpenter’s mate named John Place, with help from the supposedly drunken 1st Lieutenant, Samuel Couchman (neither of whom survived the conclusion of the court martial that was to follow). The loyal boatswain retook the ship and arrested the mutineers. The boatswain was able to bring the Chesterfield to English Harbour, in Antiqua, where it was reunited with the stranded officers on 7 March 1749.[iv] Middleton and company aboard, now under Captain James Campbell, Chesterfield returned to England, and arrived at Spithead on 14 June 1749.

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US President Barack Obama visits the former slave trading outpost at Cape Corso castle, Ghana, 11 July 2009, the site where Lt. Middleton first experienced the disreputable connection between Royal Navy seapower and the slave trade.

Middleton was put on half-pay and sent ashore the following month.[v] There he remained until transferred to a dockside assignment aboard HMS Culloden (74), in June 1752. Back on half-pay in November, he was subsequently transferred to what would become a familiar ship, HMS Anson (Captain Charles Holmes), a 4th rate, 60 gun ship of the line built in 1747; In January 1753, Middleton, 26 years old, was thus acting in the capacity of second lieutenant aboard a large ship of the line. Anson’s first lieutenant at this time was one Richard Kempenfelt, later Rear-Admiral Kempenfelt.[vi]

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Aboard HMS Anson, the first lieutenant in 1755 was Richard Kempenfelt, later Rear-Admiral Kempenfelt as painted by Tilly Kettle in 1782, prior to his drowning aboard HMS Royal George on 29 August of that year, tragically, at least partly the result of the Middleton – Sandwich coppering method which produced electrolytic degradation on warship rivets. Middleton and Kempenfelt exchanged letters on the subject of signalling during 1779 – 1782.

Middleton was briefly transferred to the Monarch (74), but was then back again aboard Anson in July 1754. Middleton succeeded Kempenfelt as 1st Lieutenant aboard Anson in January 1755. In March of that year Lt. Middleton was to be found recruiting sailors in the Bristol Channel, while aboard Princess Augusta.[vii] With Britain’s relations with France deteriorating, Middleton, aboard Anson (Captain Robert Man), was dispatched as part of Vice-Admiral Edward Boscawen’s fleet of 11 of the line to blockade the St. Lawrence, although, it being the spring of 1755, war had not yet been declared.[viii] Boscawen intercepted a detached French squadron of three and captured two 64 gun ships, Alcide and Lys, but missed a third, Dauphin Royal in fog off the Newfoundland Banks, June 8 – 9.[ix]

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Vice-Admiral Edward Boscawen, who commanded the English squadron in which 28 year old Lt. Middleton served as first Lieutenant aboard HMS Anson (60), at the outbreak of the Seven Years War. Joshua Reynolds, 1824.

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Admiral Boscawen’s action against Admiral de le Motte’s separated squadron 8 June 1755. In the foreground, Captain Andrews aboard the Defiance (60), engages Lys (64) while Captain Richard Howe, commanding the Dunkirk (60) attacks Captain de Hocquart’s Alcide (64) in the distance. This is an artistic compression: Defiance, along with Fougueux, were sent to chase Lys which was actaully captured the next day. Lt. Charles Middleton, the XO, under the command of Captain Robert Man, was aboard Anson (60), one of Boscawen’s eleven warships.

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HMS Defiance of 60 guns, 5th rate when built in 1744.

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Admiral Lord Richard Howe, then Captain HMS Dunkirk, who fought together with Lt. Middleton as part of Boscawen’s fleet. Depicted here as C-in-C Channel Fleet, print made by James Whittle and Richard Holmes, 1794

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Royal Navy warships, as of June 1755, showing first Lt. Middleton’s appointment in red. From Jonathan Dull’s The French Navy and the Seven Years’ War.

Anson cruised off Louisbourg and Halifax, then returned to England in October 1755, and was eventually stationed in Portsmouth in March of 1756. Anson, along with Bristol (50) and Harwich (50) were now dispatched to the West Indies as part of the outbound convoy with 17 merchant ships, departing England on 27 April and arriving at St. John’s Road, Antigua on 12 June 1756. That same month, Minorca fell as a result of Admiral Byng’s failed relief attempt resulting from the battle of Port Mahon, 20 May 1756.

Commander RN, & The Seven Years’ War

During 1755-6, relations soured between England’s North American colonists and the French settlers in Canada and their Native American allies. A struggle for control of the Ohio River valley soon revealed the tenuous nature of the status quo peace. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which had ended the War of Austrian Succession in 1748, was tested on a number of occasions, such as in 1755 when General Braddock’s force was ambushed. In India, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Clive and the British East India Company continued their swashbuckling campaign of conquest, capturing Calcutta in January 1757, and winning the decisive battle at Plassey on 23 June 1757, further antagonizing French interests. War in Europe was renewed when Prussia invaded Saxony in 1756, prompting Austria to declare war on Frederick II in 1757. Britain declared war against France on 18 May of that year, pushing Prussia into coalition with Britain, for the Austrians, who counted amongst their allies Russia and Sweden, were also allied with Louis XV’s France.[x]

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The World colonial situation prior to the Treaty of Paris, 1763 <http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/&gt;

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European political situation 1740 – 1757, maps.

Considering that the British monarchy originated from the electorate of Hannover, England joined Prussia and Portugal against the powerful coalition of France, Austria, Russia, Sweden, Poland, and after 1762, Spain. The war began with a series of British reversals, notably at Minorca, where Admiral Byng was unable to win the victory at Port Mahon, 20 May 1756, to the great detriment of his personal fortunes. France’s Louisbourg citadel, in present day Nova Scotia, however, was captured in July 1758. These tremendous events were followed by the capture of Quebec itself, after the victory at the Plains of Abraham on 13 September 1759. These military victories were accompanied by suitable naval victories, at Lagos, 18 – 19 August (Boscawen), and Quiberon Bay, 20 November (Hawke), during the victorious Annus Mirabilis.

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French siege and capture of Fort St. Philip, Minorca, 29 July 1756. Admiral Byng’s defeat, on 20 May 1756, shortly after the outbreak of war, enabled the Marquis de la Galissonniere’s fleet to support the siege of the Mediterranean fortress.

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Global conflict: The Seven Years’ War.

Frederick the Great won his major maneuver victories against overwhelming enemy coalition forces at Rossbach and Leuthen in November and December 1757, followed by the victory against Russia at Zorndorf in August 1758, dealing a serious repulse to the initial Grand Alliance war effort. As a result, Britain’s funding of the Prussian effort increased between 1757 and 1758 by nearly a factor of ten, to 1,860,000 pounds sterling. Frederick’s reversals against the Russians in 1759 at Kunersdorf led to Berlin’s capture, but Frederick maintained his defence against France and Austria, defeating the Austrians at Liegnitz in August, and again at Torgau in November, 1760. Britain, for its part, eventually abandoned the alliance, seeking a separate peace in 1762 to consolidate its colonial gains, a move that Frederick would not forget when Britain came looking for European allies during the American Revolutionary War.

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First Lord of the Admiralty, Admiral of the Fleet, Lord George Anson as painted prior to 1748 by Thomas Hudson. The architect of Britain’s naval strategy during the Seven Years’ War, Anson was First Lord from 1751-56 and 1757-62.

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Cartoon celebrating Captain Howe and Vice-Admiral Boscawen’s victories over the French in Canada, including the capture of Louisbourg in the summer of 1758.

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Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward Hawke, painted by Francis Cotes in 1768.

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Admiral Sir Edward Hawke’s victory at Quiberon Bay, 20 November 1759, painted by Nicholas Pocock. This decisive battle by the Channel squadron prevented the planned invasion of England and Ireland, thus freeing Royal Navy forces for deployment to other theatres, including the Caribbean.

With the major struggle taking place in Canada and Europe, the Caribbean was at first a sideshow. The Royal Navy’s defence of its Caribbean trade had been arranged as a layered blockade and interdiction operation: the two station commanders, based at Jamaica and Antigua, were provided with small squadrons of 50 or 60 gun ships for blockading the enemy’s naval bases at St. Domingo (Spain) and Martinique (France). Heavy RN frigates of 30 to 40 guns sailed windward of Antigua and Barbados, seeking privateers. Lastly, 20 gun frigates and all lesser sloops, brigs and corvettes covered the inter-island communications, primarily around the Leeward Islands.[xi]

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The Leeward Islands from NASA Terra satellite.

In 1756 the Jamaican station was under the command of Rear-Admiral George Townshend with three of the line and four frigates. The Leeward Island station was commanded by Rear-Admiral Frankland, with an additional three of the line and four or five frigates.[xii] When the Elder Pitt took power during his brief 1756-7 term under the Duke of Devonshire, he re-shuffled the Admiralty, using Boscawen to offset Anson, who at that time was the First Lord of the Admiralty, and doubled the size of the Caribbean fleets while appointing new commanders: Rear-Admiral Thomas Cotes, now with seven of the line and ten or so frigates, to Jamaica; and Commodore John Moore was ordered to the Leeward Islands with three of the line, two 50s, three 40s and five frigates.

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Political situation in the Caribbean, 1756, from Sir Julian Corbett’s The Seven Years War. The islands of St. Lucia, Grenada and Dominica were at this time declared as neutrals under the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, although nominally under French control. The major French naval bases were at Guadeloupe and Martinique.

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British Caribbean commands in June 1756, Lt. Middleton’s position in red.

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Control of territory in Caribbean during 1756.

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English Harbour, Antigua today.

It was with Commodore Moore, that Middleton, still aboard the Anson, was ordered to Antigua. Middleton, now thirty years old, continued aboard Anson until 26 February 1757 when he was promoted Commander, appointed to the sloop Speaker (12), to cruise in the Leeward Islands. There is some confusion regarding his command at this point, as he was simultaneously listed as commander of the Blandford, as acting captain (26 February to 28 March), while also having commanded of the sloop Saltash, briefly.[xiii]

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Model of a 200 ton burden, 14 gun sloop, circa the 1740 pattern, similar to HMS Barbados commanded by Captain Middleton in 1758

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Model of a 12 gun sloop on the 1752 pattern, ketch-rigged (note the mizzen mast and absence of a fore mast)

It is clear from the sources, however, that Commander Middleton’s position would involve dockyard work, and appreciating the administrative aspects of running a trade defence operation. In the event, Middleton was promoted Captain in July 1758, and took command of the newly constructed Barbados (12). Middleton’s role during this time was a small but critical part of the Admiralty’s vast world system: based at English Harbour, Antigua, Captain Middleton was left in charge of anti-privateering operations while Commodore Moore conducted amphibious landings against Martinique and Guadeloupe.

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Plan of English Harbour, Antigua, 1782: base of operations for the Leeward Island station in 1758.

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English Harbour in 1800, by Nicholas Pocock

Middleton, a natural administrator, thus oversaw trade as it massed at Antigua in preparation for its biannual convoy across the Atlantic. These large convoys, sailing at the beginning of June and July, of which the first, in June 1757, totalled 170 ships, were valued at least £2,000,000, and although fairly secure from interception, were generally uninsured. Individual merchant ships, however, not to mention the inter-island and coastal trade, indeed, were potential prey for French privateers sortieing from Guadeloupe and Martinique or crossing the Atlantic from the windward: over 1,400 trade ships were captured by French privateers in the West Indies over the course of the war.[xiv]

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Order of battle for Leeward Islands and Jamaican stations, June 1757. Notice the significant increase in ships of the line attached to these two stations at this point. Middleton had been made Commander and appointed to the sloop HMS Speaker in February, a ship too small to be counted amongst the heavier warships, and thus does not appear on this list.

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John Frazer’s painting of a frigate with full sail.

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“Sloop” signed W. Van der velde, with English colours flying.<>

Captain Middleton thus found himself in a similar position to Captain Horatio Nelson, who, 27 years later, would likewise be appointed to Antigua and the Leeward Islands as a frigate commander.[xv] While captain of Barbados, in October 1758, Middleton wrote to a merchant representing the local chamber of commerce at St. Christopher’s (St. Kitt’s), regarding a proposed scheme for the defence of the islands. The plan involved two warships of 40 guns, two of 20 guns, and eight brigs of 16 guns, supported by two sloops of 10 guns each.[xvi] According to Middleton’s recommendations, these warships would be split between Barbados and Antigua, with two frigates stationed at each, and three brigs at the former, five brigs plus two sloops at the latter.

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Nelson boards a captured ship, showing Nelson leaving HMS Lowestoft (32) to board a captured American privateer, 20 November 1777, by Richard Westall, 1806.

Captain Middleton’s detailed summary of the defence scheme identified what he believed to be the optimum arrangement for trade defence, observing that the area around Barbados could be relatively easily protected, although “…Antigua, St. Christopher’s, Nevis, Montserrat, Jamaica, &c.,” were more difficult to protect considering the numerous sailing routes between the islands.[xvii] In December 1759, writing from his new command, Arundel, Middleton believed the entire station could be covered by two ship of the line, four frigates, three brigs and two sloops, with reserves to relieve these forces as needed.[xviii]

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Leeward Islands and Jamaican commands, 1758, showing only four heavy warships on station at Commodore Moore’s station.

Middleton was keen to use the heavier frigates to cover the routes to and from Martinique, Marie-Galante and Guadeloupe, so as to interrupt French prize captures there. Middleton was executing a portion of Commodore Moore’s scheme, which, based on his predecessor, Rear-Admiral Frankland, involved the main squadron covering Martinique and the passage to Fort Royal and St. Pierre, capital of the French Lesser Antilles, while the various cruisers and frigates covered the islands and searched for privateers, of which, 25 were taken in the first ten months of Moore’s command, at least one of those by Middleton in the Barbados.[xix]

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Leeward Islands and Jamaican commands, June 1759. Note the dramatic expansion in force, from four to 9 ships of the line, with three 60 and three 50 gun cruisers, made possible by the transfer of ships from the Louisbourg operation.

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Rear-Admiral of the Blue, Sir John Moore, who, as Commodore, C-in-C Leeward Islands, oversaw the attack on Guadeloupe in January 1759.

Commodore Moore’s command had now been built up to ten ship of the line and 6,000 troops (under General Hopson) with which he might begin to capture the French island bases and thus solve the privateer problem at source.[xx] An attempt to storm Martinique on 16 January 1759 had been repulsed when it was discovered that the island’s defences were too strong.[xxi] Instead, the combined force mobilized against Guadeloupe, generating a siege that lasted until 1 May. The surrender of the island was accepted by Brigadier John Barrington, who had taken command following General Hopson’s death on 27 February.[xxii] The result of this series of events, which cost the French empire 80,000 hogsheads per anum in Guadeloupe sugar, prompted the dispatch of the Toulon squadron to the West Indies. French Admiral La Clue Sabran’s squadron, however, was intercepted as it left the Mediterranean by Admiral Boscawen (now C-in-C Mediterranean), with the result that five of the French ships were lost (of which, three were captured) at the Battle of Lagos, 18 – 19 August, 1759.[xxiii]

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Battle of Lagos, of the coast of Portugal

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ESA Envisat image of Guadeloupe, Dominica, and Martinique

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View of Guadeloupe, William Wyllie, 1893

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Invasion of Guadeloupe, January & February 1759, carried out by Commodore Moore

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Guadeloupe captured, Peter Benezech’s engraving after Archibald Campbell’s view of Fort Royale, c. 1768

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Detail of the assault on Basseterre, Guadeloupe. The siege lasted until the end of May 1759, the French relief fleet arriving too late to prevent the capitulation of the island.

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Medal commemorating Commodore Moore’s capture of Guadeloupe, May 1759.

Middleton soon made Post-Captain, and in March 1759, while the Guadeloupe operation was under way, he was appointed commander of the 1746 vintage 6th rate frigate, HMS Arundel (24). Middleton, while cruising aboard the Arundel in November 1759, captured the slave transport Swift with more than 100 slaves on board. James Ramsay, Middleton’s assistant surgeon, and Middleton himself, were both appalled by the conditions onboard, confirming Middleton’s faith in abolition as the only just solution to the African slave trade. By December 1759, Captain Middleton had taken another four prizes, two merchants and two privateers, however, Arundel was in poor shape, with a damaged foremast, so Middleton returned to harbour.[xxiv] As Middleton built up the local flotillas, Commodore Moore was critiqued by the Barbados merchant committee for not bothering to intercept the French squadron sent to relieve Guadeloupe during the siege of spring 1759, with the result that “175 or 180 sail” had subsequently been captured and taken to Martinique, to be sold off at Fort Royal or St. Pierre, by the French.[xxv]

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British (1, 5) and French (2, 3, 4) frigates, sloops and corvettes designed and built in the 1740s.

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A heavy frigate, 5th rate

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Captain Nelson’s HMS Boreas (28), built in 1774, with French frigate, by Nicholas Pocock.

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A model of a 24 gun frigate built in 1741, similar to HMS Arundel, of 1746, the ship in which Captain Middleton made Post-Captain, in 1759. Note the hull ports close to the water line- for oars.

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Plan of a 12 gun “Bermudan” pattern brig, the basic Caribbean corvette designed to out-weigh the French schooners and sloops. c. 1762.

Middleton continued to busy himself with flotilla outfitting and defence arrangements, repeatedly emphasizing the need for more “Bermudian” type brigs of 12 guns (such as HMS Speaker, Antigua, and Barbados) which, due to their armament and sailing qualities, he believed especially suited for the Leeward Islands. These heavy brigs were superior to the French sloops and schooners, the English brigs having captured 30 prizes on station by 1759.[xxvi] Middleton built off his predecessor’s layered defence scheme: as was the practice, convoys would handle the major cross-Atlantic trade, while local inter-island routes were best handled by brigs, or convoyed with frigates when available. Middleton argued for a flying detachment of two powerful frigates, or cruisers, stationed off Barbados, for actively hunting enemy privateers. Another group of frigates and sloops would provide a distant blockade of Martinique, thus surrounding the island’s traffic, a critical consideration with the Dutch trade at St. Eustatius effectively circumventing the blockade, if not intercepted.[xxvii]

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In June 1760 there were three 70 gun ships of the line and five 64 gun cruisers on station, with reinforcements en route.

The coronation of George III in 1761 provided an opportunity for a change in strategy, with the Caribbean stations increasing in importance. William Pitt the Elder, who had directed British strategy as Secretary of State for the Southern Department while acting as Leader of the House, under the Duke of Newcastle (between June 1757 – 1761), was now displaced by the Earl of Bute, and resigned in October of that year. In July 1760, Middleton, replacing the gout-stricken Captain Cornwall, was given HMS Emerald (28), a prize taken in 1757, and it was in this ship that he secured his most profitable naval captures.[xxviii]

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View of St. Pierre, Martinique, August 1796, by Cooper Willyams

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Bay of St. Pierre, today.

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June 1760

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June 1761

Leeward Islands and Jamaican commands, June 1760 & 1761. By June 1761, the Leeward Islands station, where Captain Middleton was located, had four ships of the line, and eight heavy 64 & 50 gun cruisers, plus numerous lesser frigates and flotilla craft. Middleton returned to England in October 1761, at the same time, Admiral Rodney was despatched from England to orchestrate the capture of the French leewards.

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Admiral George Rodney, after 1754. In 1761 he became the C-in-C Leeward Islands, and oversaw the capture of Martinique, St Lucia, Grenada and St Vincent.

As Middleton’s tour of duty at the Leeward Islands was coming to an end, Rear-Admiral George Rodney had been sent, in October 1761, to accelerate the campaign of seizure and capture of the French islands.[xxix] In January 1762, the year Britain declared war on Spain in response to the Spanish alliance with France, Rear-Admiral Rodney took 16,000 soldiers under Major-General Robert Monckton to Martinique, and captured the island by coup de main.[xxx] Rodney next dispatched Captain Augustus John Hervey in the Dragon (3rd rate) to St. Lucia, which Hervey proceeded to capture on 25 February 1762.

With Spain in the war, the next target was Havana. Rear-Admiral Sir George Pocock, and Lieutenant-General George Keppel, were dispatched from England with a fleet and 15,000 troops to break Spain’s Cuban fortress. Lord Anson, who had administered the Navy during much of the war, died in June 1762 and thus was unable to witness the successful capture of Havana in August of that year.

1761

http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/13315.html

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60 gun two deck ship of the line / cruiser, compared to a 24 gun frigate, at Gravesend, c. 1753-9, by Charles Brooking

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The 66 gun heavy cruiser HMS Buckingham engaging French warships on 3 November 1758.

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Caribbean fleets in June 1762, showing Havana invasion force.

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Commodore Augustus Hervey, 3rd Earl of Bristol, c. 1767 by Thomas Gainsborough. Commodore Hervey captured St. Lucia as part of Rodney’s 1762 offensive.

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Surrender of St. Lucia, February 25 1762, by Dominc Serres, 1772

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Spain joins the coalition against Britain and Prussia. In 1762, Martinique, St. Lucia and Havana fall to the British.

The Capture of Havana:

Admiral Pocock’s fleet and amphibious task force arrived from England, and landed on 7 June 1762 to besiege Havana.

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Rear-Admiral Sir George Pocock, who commanded the naval force at the Havana operation, painted by Thomas Hudson, c. 1761

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Commodore Augustus Keppel, Lt. General George Keppel’s brother, and the second-in-command at Havana. Painted by Joshua Reynolds in 1749

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Lt. General George Keppel, the Earl of Albremarle, who commanded the land forces at the Havana operation

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The landing on 7 June 1762 of Lord Albermarle’s force against the Morro Castle fortress at Havana. Painting by Dominic Serres.

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Capture of Havana, August 1762. This was the largest maritime operation of the war, requiring over 15,000 troops.

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The fleet enters Havana on 21 August 1762, by Dominic Serres. Notice the distinct blue and red colours indicating squadrons and commands.

Middleton, meanwhile, had returned to England. Emerald was paid off in October 1761, to be broken up, its namesake uprated to a new 5th rate completed in 1762.[xxxi] Middleton had captured 16 prizes while captaining HMS Emerald, five of which were enemy privateers. During his four years in the Caribbean, Middleton had demonstrated an aptitude for trade defence, blockade, ship construction and fitting, discipline, and naval administration.

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Full scale replica of the French 32 gun frigateFrench 32 gun frigate, Hermione, a ship similar to the 5th rate HMS Adventure (32), built in 1741 that was captained by Middleton in 1762. Seen here in June 2015 with USS Mitscher, an Arleigh Burke class DDG (guided missile destroyer).

As it turned out, in March of 1762, Middleton was appointed Captain of HMS Adventure (32 – a different ship from the Adventure which became Captain James Cook’s second alongside Resolution in 1771), a fifth rate which had been recut from a fourth rate in 1758. Captain Middleton was sent to patrol along the Channel and Normandy coast.

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Map showing British strategy and territories secured during the Seven Years’ War, from Paul Kennedy’s Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery.

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Map showing major colonial empires after the Treaty of Paris.<http://www.worldmapsonline.com/images/Cram/History/colonialempires1763.jpg&gt;

The Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years’ War, was signed on 10 February 1763, and as part of the negotiations, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia and Martinique, the former captured in 1759 and the latter two in 1762 respectively, were returned to France; Canada, however, was ceded to Great Britain. Havana and Manila, both taken from Spain, were likewise returned, in exchange for Florida and Minorca.[xxxii]

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Deptford dockyard, 1763 by John Cleveley the Elder

Middleton went on half-pay until March 1762. In December 1761, at the age of 35, Charles Middleton married Margaret Gambier, a skilled painter and later an advocate for the abolition of slavery. Margaret was the daughter of Captain James Gambier, to whom Middleton was familiar through the connection of Captain Mead, whose sister, Mary, was Margaret’s mother. Middleton had first served with Mead during their time aboard the Sandwich, twenty years prior. Margaret gave birth to their only child, a daughter, Diana, on 18 September 1762.

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Family of Margaret Gambier, who became Mrs. Middleton in December 1761.

Middleton, for his part, retired from the service, declining a sea-going appointment on 2 April 1763, to retreat to the hospitality of his wife, then living with her friend Elizabeth Bouverie, at Teston, in Kent.[xxxiii] Margaret and Elizabeth were joined there after 1777 by Captain Middleton’s former assistant surgeon from the Arundel, now a staunch abolitionist and priest, James Ramsay, who became a close friend of Mrs. Middleton and her circle, as well as private secretary to Charles, drafting many of his letters.[xxxiv] It was the wealthy Elizabeth Bouverie, proprietor of Barham Court, who, upon her death in 1798, left to Charles Middleton the entire Teston estate, the source of his title as Lord Barham.

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Recent photographs of Barham Court, Teston, Kent.

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The Mall at St. James Park, by Thomas Gainsborough, 1782. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gainsborough#

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View of the Temple of Comus in Vauxhall Gardens by Canaletto circa 1750s, engraved by Johann Muller

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Warships fitting out at Portsmouth, 1770, by Dominic Serres. 

            Comptroller & the American Revolution

Middleton remained in these pleasant surroundings for twelve years, until, with the American Revolution underway, he joined HMS Ardent (64) in May 1775. Much as his efforts during the Caribbean operations had focused Middleton on administrative duties, he soon found himself running Chatham dockyard as Commodore Mackenzie’s assistant, and by December 1775, was in communication with Lord Sandwich regarding ship fittings, among other dockyard matters.[xxxv] Middleton was writing his own standing orders by this point, his orders for Ardent focusing on proper logistics, discipline, gunnery, and duties.[xxxvi] On 7 November 1776, Middleton was made Captain of HMS Prince George (90), a new but decommissioned second rate built in 1772.

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Prince George, 1772, 90 guns.

Middleton was working this ship up for more than a year- one imagines Middleton regularly visiting the dockyard during 1777- until February 1778 when he was transferred to the 4th rate Jupiter (50), then under construction. Middleton was back on half-pay on 22 July 1778, then, the next month, following the death of Comptroller Captain Maurice Suckling, Middleton was appointed Comptroller of the Navy by his friend, the First Lord of the Admiralty, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich.[xxxvii] Middleton would be in this position for twelve years, until he resigned in 1790.

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Jupiter, 1778, 50 guns, 4th rate, plans by John Williams, Navy Surveyor

NPG D4160; John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich by Valentine Green, after  Johan Joseph Zoffany

John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich in 1774, by Valentine Green, after Johan Joseph Zoffany.

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View of Leicester Square by Thomas Bowles, circa 1753

The Earl Sandwich was one amongst a powerful circle of Middleton’s friends, including Middleton’s cousin, Henry Dundas, the Lord Melville, then the Lord Advocate of Scotland, and George Germain, Secretary of State for America, who, together with Lord North, would fail to contain the American Revolution in years to come. Middleton kept up a regular correspondence with Admiral Hood and Captains Young and Kempenfelt, who provided the Comptroller with intelligence and a brain-trust to work out signalling tactics or new construction ideas. Middleton’s marriage into the Gambier family further increased the reach of his network, as his brother-in-law was Vice-Admiral James Gambier, C-in-C North America. Lady Middleton herself, highly respected by British society, was friends with Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, amongst other men and women of letters.[xxxviii]

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Admiral Samuel Hood’s victory at St. Kitts, 25 January 1782. Hood kept Middleton informed about developments in the Caribbean via a detailed letter correspondence.

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Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, with whom Middleton kept a regular correspondence during the American Revolutionary War.

The devout and ascendant Middleton, soon Lord Commissioner, then First Lord of the Admiralty, and Baronet Barham after 23 October 1781, was occasionally at odds with his benefactor, Sandwich. As Comptroller, Middleton was responsible for the statistical control of Navy’s dockyards, warships and naval supply, as this information was collected by the Admiralty’s various accountants. Middleton mastered the naval supply accounts and advanced his schemes for improvement, such as roofing all of the dockyards- a difficult task not completed until the following century.[xxxix] Minorca was retaken on his watch on 4 February 1782.[xl] Wartime policy occasionally led to cut corners, however, as demonstrated by Sandwich’s efforts to provide copper sheathing to all the warships of the fleet. It was Middleton’s budget method that produced the electrolytic action that pre-naturally aged the fleet’s warships, which resulted in several significant defects (contributing to the losses of HMS Terrible and Royal George).[xli] The fleet was eventually re-coppered at considerable expense, with specially coated copper nails, effectively the French method of copper construction.[xlii]

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Admiral Rodney’s victory at the Saints, off Dominica, 12 April 1782. George Rodney’s spectacular defeat of the Comte de Grasse was too late to reverse the outcome of the American Revolution, although it evened the naval scales.

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Barham as Comptroller of the Navy in 1788.

As a result of his incessant centralizing drive for reform, Middleton’s later career was not without its antagonists: the Viscount Howe, Admiralty First Lord from 1783 until 1788- who Middleton had worked with under Boscawen in 1755- had opposed Middleton’s reforms. Middleton and Sandwich eventually fell out as well, nevertheless, the Middleton – Sandwich administration, despite its travails and failures, would be remembered as one of those dynamic Admiralty leadership combinations that so infrequently graced the office of state, comparable perhaps only to Sir John Fisher and Winston Churchill in 1914, or Francis Drake and Admiral Sir John Hawkins in 1588.[xliii]

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Portrait of the Earl Richard Howe, commemorating his victory at the Glorious First of June, 1794.

Middleton was elected MP (Tory) for Rochester in 1784 – 1790, and made Rear-Admiral of the Red on 24 September 1787. Together with his old friend James Ramsay, and Lady Middleton’s associate William Wilberforce MP, Middleton advocated for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade, of which he had seen the worst of during his naval career. Middleton, during this time, defeated his erstwhile opponent Lord Howe, who was superseded by the brother Pitt, John, the Earl of Chatham, on 16 July 1788. Middleton was long frustrated in his efforts to get himself onto the Admiralty Board, however, and he resigned in March 1790. Margaret, Lady Middleton, died two years later, on 10 October 1792, and Charles was left with Diana and her husband Gerard. Middleton was made Vice-Admiral in February 1793, then, his wish was granted in 1794, and he joined the Admiralty as First Naval Lord, aside Lord Spencer, until November 1795. He made full Admiral of the Blue in 1795.[xliv] Middleton was out of the loop, however, as the Admiralty was under the control of another of Middleton’s antagonists, Admiral Sir John Jervis (presently, after his victory in February 1797, the Earl St. Vincent), First Lord of the Admiralty in 1801.

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Portrait of Admiral Sir  John Jervis, the Earl St. Vincent, by William Beechey, c. 1787-90

The Rhinebeck Panorama composite image:  c.1806-7

Rhineback panorama of London in 1806

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The Admiralty, February 1795 by Thomas Malton, jr.

It was the intervention, at this point, of Middleton’s friend, the leader of the “new Tories”, William Pitt the Younger, who returned him to power. Middleton was appointed chairman of the Commission for Revising, a naval budgetary control organization established in December 1804, not long after the Earl St. Vincent’s departure the preceding year (“that damned Scotch packhorse” Admiral John Jervis called Middleton).[xlv] Henry Dundas, the Viscount Melville, then the First Lord, was out by May 1805 and Pitt asked Middleton to succeed him.[xlvi]

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William Pitt, the Younger, by John Hoppner, 1805

An important consideration was any successor’s ability to work with Vice-Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson of the Nile. Middleton had first met Nelson in November 1787, and Nelson had found in Middleton a kindred reformer. Although separated by more than two decades, they had served on the same station as frigate commanders, and had corresponded during the American Revolutionary War.[xlvii]

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Vice-Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson of the Nile, 1800, by Friedrich Fuger

Like Nelson, an evangelical man, Middleton was distraught by the heavy-handedness of St. Vincent’s reforms; not to mention his military mistakes. Knowing a sure thing when he saw it, Pitt appointed Middleton as First Lord, his status in the peerage raised to 1st Baron Barham of Barham Court and Teston, Kent, with Admiral James Gambier (Margaret’s nephew), the Baron Gambier, as First Sea Lord.[xlviii]

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Admiral James Gambier, Baron Gambier, sketch by Joseph Slater, 1813

Middleton dispatched Nelson reinforcements, and tightened the Channel blockade in the lead up to Trafalgar,[xlix] and afterward Middleton was made full Admiral of the Red on 9 November 1805. Known for their proficiency with ship design, and defensive mindset, Gambier and Middleton introduced the revised Naval Regulations of 1806.[l] With Nelson deified, and Pitt soon to follow, at eighty years old, Charles Middleton retired for the last time 1806.[li] The Lord Barham, Admiral of the Red Sir Charles Middleton, Comptroller of the Navy during the American Revolutionary War, Senior Naval Lord during the French Revolution, and First Lord of the Admiralty during Trafalgar, frigate commander in the Leeward Islands during the Seven Years War, died on 17 June 1813, at the age of 87.

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Isaac Pocock’s portrait of Admiral Sir Charles Middleton, the Lord Barham.

Middleton’s legacy is as a farsighted reformer and modernizer, at once pragmatic and controversial. As First Lord of the Admiralty, he established the position of First Sea Lord as the chief naval post on the Board, thus setting the pattern for the 19th and 20th centuries.[lii] A relentless modernizer, yet a devout Tory; a disciplinarian who opposed slavery, Middleton’s career certainly possessed its share of conflicts. Details about Middleton’s important administrative career during three wars can be found in a number of sources, although the modern researcher will not find a better one than Sir John Knox Laughton’s three volumes of the Barham papers, published shortly before the First World War, by the Navy Records Society.[liii]

Barham was established as a Royal Navy ship name, starting with the 74 gun 3rd rate in 1811 (modified to 50 guns in 1826).

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HMS Barham (50) at Sheerness, in February 1836, by Francis Byron 

An HMS Barham screw frigate was ordered for 1860, however the order was canceled.

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 The name was next given to an ironclad cruiser in 1889, which was sold off in February 1914, as, on 31 December of that year, the name was recycled into HMS Barham.

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HMS Barham was a 27,500 ton Queen Elizabeth class oil-fuel super-dreadnought built and commissioned between February 1913 and October 1915. Beginning on 1 October 1915, HMS Barham, commanded by Captain Arthur W. Craig, became the flagship of the 5th Battle Squadron, led by Rear-Admiral Evan Thomas, and fought at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916. 25 years later Barham was at the Battle of Matapan, in March 1941. The warship was finally torpedoed, with the loss of most of the crew, by U-331, commanded by Kptlt. Hans-Diedrich Freiherr von Tiesenhausen, on 25 November 1941.

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HMS Victory is towed into Portsmouth Harbour in preparation for preservation, December 1921. HMS Thunderer and Barham, docked in line-ahead on the left, by William Wyllie.<http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/15173.html&gt;

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Crest of HMS Barham (1915).

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[i] N. A. M. Rodger, The Command of the Ocean (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006)., p. 373

[ii] N. A. M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (London: Fontana Press, 1988)., p. 212-14

[iii] John Talbott, The Pen & Ink Sailor: Charles Middleton and the King’s Navy 1778 – 1813, Kindle (Frank Cass Publishers, 1998)., chapter 1.

[iv] John Knox Laughton and R. Vesey Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I, digital, vol. 1, 3 vols., Navy Records Society 32, 1906., p. xii-xiii

[v] Roger Morriss, “Middleton, Charles, First Baron Barham (1726-1813),” The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[vi] Talbott, The Pen & Ink Sailor: Charles Middleton and the King’s Navy 1778 – 1813., chapter 1.

[vii] Clevland to Hawke, 11 March 1755, #88, Ruddock Mackay, ed., The Hawke Papers, A Selection: 1743 – 1771, Navy Records Society 129 (Aldershot, Hants: Scolar Press, 1990). p. 117 fn

[viii] Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. xiv

[ix] Julian Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy (London: The Folio Society, 2001)., p. 41; Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 263; A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660 – 1783 (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1987)., p. 284

[x] John B. Hattendorf, “The Struggle with France, 1689 – 1815,” in The Oxford Illustrated History of the Royal Navy, ed. J. R. Hill and Bryan Ranft (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 80–119., p. 96-7

[xi] Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy., p. 268-9

[xii] Ibid., p. 272

[xiii] Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. xvi

[xiv] Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy., p. 267-8; Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 277

[xv] John Sugden, Nelson: A Dream of Glory, vol. 1, 2 vols. (London: Pimlico, 2005)., p. 244

[xvi] Middleton to Mr. Walter Pringle, 21 October 1758, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 1-2

[xvii] Middleton to Mr. Walter Pringle, 21 October 1758, Ibid., p. 3

[xviii] Middleton to Pringle, 4 December 1759, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 16

[xix] Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy., p. 278; Middleton to Mr. Walter Pringle, 21 October 1758, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 7

[xx] Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 277

[xxi] Ibid., p. 277

[xxii] Ibid., p. 277

[xxiii] Ibid., p. 277-8

[xxiv] Middleton to Pringle, 4 December 1759, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 17

[xxv] Council and Merchants of Barbados to Joseph Pickering, 1759. Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 21-2

[xxvi] Middleton to Pringle, 1759, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 18

[xxvii] Middleton to Sir James Douglas, 1760, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 32

[xxviii] Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. x, Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy., p. 103

[xxix] Anson to Rodney, 5 October 1761, #846 in David Syrett, ed., The Rodney Papers, Volume I, 1742 – 1763, Navy Records Society 148 (Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2005)., p. 422

[xxx] Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 284

[xxxi] Lieutenant’s Logs, Navy Board, HMS Emerald, 1758 – 1760, ADM/L/E/96, http://collections.rmg.co.uk/archive/objects/526873.html ; T. D. Manning and C. F. Walker, British Warship Names (London: Putnam, 1959).

[xxxii] Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 287-8

[xxxiii] Morriss, “Middleton, Charles, First Baron Barham (1726-1813).”

[xxxiv] Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 46

[xxxv] Middleton to Lord Sandwich, 1 December 1775, G. R. Barnes and J. H. Owen, eds., The Sandwich Papers, Vol. I., August 1770 – March 1778, vol. 1, Navy Records Society 69 (Navy Records Society, 1932). p. 78

[xxxvi] Captain’s Order Book, 1 August 1775, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 39

[xxxvii] Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. x

[xxxviii] http://www.thepeerage.com/p5349.htm#i53488

[xxxix] Ibid., 376

[xl] Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. xxxv

[xli] Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., 375-6

[xlii] Ibid., 374-5

[xliii] Arthur Herman, To Rule the Waves (New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2004)., p. 316

[xliv] Roger Knight, Britain Against Napoleon: The Organization of Victory, 1793 – 1815 (St Ives plc: Penguin Books, 2014)., p. xix-xx

[xlv] Talbott, The Pen & Ink Sailor: Charles Middleton and the King’s Navy 1778 – 1813.

[xlvi] Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 480

[xlvii] Sugden, Nelson: A Dream of Glory., p. 370-1

[xlviii] Andrew Lambert, Admirals (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 2009)., p. 180-1; Herman, To Rule the Waves. p. 336, 369; John Sugden, Nelson: The Sword of Albion, vol. 2, 2 vols. (London: The Bodley Head, 2012)., p. 761-5

[xlix] Sugden, Nelson: The Sword of Albion., p. 785-6

[l] Richard Blake, “James Gambier, Baron Gambier (1723-1789),” The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[li] http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/100697.html

[lii] Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., 480

[liii] Sydney Riddick, “Charles Middleton, Afterward Lord Barham, and Naval Administration, 1778-1805” (MA Thesis, Liverpool University, 1939).; H. C. Fox, “A Discussion of the Problems of Naval Administration Arising from the Period Covered by ‘The Barham Papers.,’” Naval Review, no. 4 (1935): 758. ; Talbott, The Pen & Ink Sailor: Charles Middleton and the King’s Navy 1778 – 1813.; Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I.; John Knox Laughton, The Barham Papers, Volume II, digital, vol. 2, 3 vols., Navy Records Society 38, 1910.; John Knox Laughton, The Barham Papers, Volume III, digital, vol. 3, 3 vols., Navy Records Society 39, 1911.

Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve: The Air Campaign, Effectiveness, Part III

NATO Secretary General at the Global Coalition to Counter-ISIL Defense Ministerial

Logo for the Global Counter ISIL Defence Ministerial, held in Washington D.C., 20 July 2016.[i]

Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve: The Air Campaign, Effectiveness, Part III

CENTCOM’s CJTF-OIR mission is now entering the second year since its inception in August 2014. It has been almost six months since the United States and its coalition partners began transitioning to the expanded phase of the CJTF-OIR mission. April to October 2016 witnessed a general expansion of the Global Coalition’s air campaign, complemented by relentless diplomatic pressure to bolster the Coalition’s political support and capabilities. Turkish ground forces intervened in August to prevent the Kurdish occupation of Manbij, and in September Russia accelerated its support for the Syrian regime forces battling in Aleppo. The April – October period ended with the Coalition preparing for its final series of operations against Raqqa and Mosul.

Diplomacy: Strengthening the Commitment, Two Years of Progress

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US President Barack Obama speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin on 18 April 2016. Control between the Russian and Coalition partners remained both complicated and dangerous, and was not always conducted with mutual satisfaction.

NATO Secretary General visits the Aegean Sea

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg flies by helicopter to Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 Flagship, Bonn, 21 April 2016.[ii] NATO’s role in the Coalition remained hugely important, especially in the naval, air and training roles, although the United States continued to shoulder the majority of airstrikes and ground personnel.

Command reshuffling continued throughout the April – October period. On 21 April, Major General Peter E. Gersten, the deputy commander, operations and intelligence for the CJTF-OIR and 9th Air Expeditionary Task Force, was moved to the Secretary of Air Force’s office at the Pentagon as deputy assistant for programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller,[iii] continuing a trend seen throughout 2016 of Iraq and Afghanistan senior commanders moving between and into Washington posts.

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Vice President Joseph Biden boards a C-17 aircraft after concluding his visit to Baghdad on April 28.[iv] Biden’s surprise visit was meant to impress the importance of the Coalition’s long-term Mosul strategy; the recapture of ISIL’s Iraq capital is one of President Obama’s year end goals.

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In Hannover, US President Barack Obama met with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron; the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, President of France, Francois Hollande and Matto Renzi, the Prime Minister of Italy. 25 April 2016. Europe’s commitment to the counter-ISIL mission remained steadfast despite a number of ISIS terrorist attacks on European soil.

On April 28, Lt. General Thomas Waldhauser, formerly the director joint forces development at the Pentagon (J-7, Joint Staff HQ, USMC)[v], was promoted full general and appointed the commander, US Forces, AFRICOM.[vi] The Africa Command played an important role in the expanded counter-ISIL mission: several high profile strikes were carried out in Libya.

On 2 May, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that Norway had agreed to provide special forces to Jordan to assist in the training of Syrian Sunni fighters. The coalition continued to train “vetted” Syrian fighters. Norway also agreed to send a special medical team directly to the combat areas of northern Iraq.[vii] Carter personally thanked Norway’s Defence Minister, Ine Eriksen Soreide for her assistance in securing Norway’s commitment to the ongoing mission. Carter planned to meet with Defence Minister Soreide in Stuttgart for a CJTF ministers meeting happening later that week.

On 4 May Air Force Lieutenant General Charles Q. Brown Jr., the deputy commander USAF Central Command, Southwest Asia, became deputy commander, US Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base.[viii] That same day, Ash Carter met with the Danish Defense Minister, Peter Christensen, at the Stuttgart anti-ISIL defence ministerial. Christensen pledged to commit Danish forces to the full spectrum of military operations in Iraq and Syria.[ix]

On 11 May, Elissa Slotkin, Acting Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, and Joint Staff Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, Lt. General Kenneth F. McKenzie, held a video-conference with their Russian MOD counterparts to recommit to the US-Russia memorandum of understanding on flight restrictions for Syria., the first of many teleconferences for the period.[x] The Russia-US memorandum would become especially significant towards the end of September with the collapse of the ceasefire agreement, and the renewed Russian air campaign against Aleppo.

On 13 May, US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter announced that Belgium would commit air assets (F-16s) to Syria as part of the counter-ISIL mission. Carter commended Prime Minister Charles Michel and Defence Minister Steven Vadeput for their support.[xi]

Supreme Allied Commander.jpg

Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti (US Army), and General John W. Nicholson, commander Operation Resolute Support (Afghanistan), at the Meetings of the Chiefs of Defence, in Brussels, 18 May. The interplay between Afghanistan, NATO, and the CJTF-OIR was maintained at the highest level, yet remained only one of the several security challenges facing the US and NATO. Other areas of concern were Eastern Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

Meetings of the Chiefs of Defence at NATO Headquarters in Brussels - MC-CS Resolute Support Format

18 May 2016, General Joseph F. Dunford (USMC) meeting with Vice Admiral John N. Christenson, the US Military Representative to NATO, at the 175th session of the Meetings of the Chiefs of the Defence at NATO HQ, Brussels.[xii] Dunford, along with Secretary Carter, were instrumental in pushing for US troop increases to the CJTF.

On 18 May, Secretary Carter met with Qatar’s defence minister, Minister of State for Defence Affairs Khalid al-Attiyah, and they discussed mutual security, including the counter-ISIL missions.[xiii]

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US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg prior to the US-NATO bilateral meeting in Brussels on May 19.[xiv] Stoltenberg and Kerry conducted nearly round-the-clock global diplomacy to keep the Coalition on mission, while building bridges for ceasefire negotiations in Syria, but also keeping the broader strategic perspective in mind.

On 24 May, the US DOD announced that Brigadier Karen H. Gibson, deputy commanding general Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber, US Army Cyber Command, had been promoted to Director of Intelligence, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, based in Kuwait.[xv] That same day, Brigadier General G. Kaiser was made commander, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. These appointments reflected a long-standing trend of moving intelligence and special forces personnel to CJTF and Afghanistan. Cyber, intelligence, training and battle-space control only increased in significance as the air campaign and ISF training operations expanded during the summer.

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US President Obama photographed here taking notes before the G7 leaders working lunch in Shima City, Japan, 26 May 2016. Russia had been evicted from the G8 following the March 2014 invasion of Crimea. Along with Secretary Kerry, with only half a year left in office, President Obama maintained focus on the counter-ISIL mission and Afghanistan, the two wars that had not ended during his eight years as President.

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June 2, Graduates of the USAF Academy Colorado Springs celebrate. President Obama congratulates graduate in the background.[xvi]

On June 3, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, during his visit to Singapore, met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and the two discussed countering terrorism, including ISIL, as well as joint air operations in the Asia-Pacific. Carter thanked the Prime Minister for his aggressive stance on counter-ISIL and anti-piracy (Gulf of Aden) missions.[xvii] The coalition relied on smaller partners and regional actors to handle specific tasks, often outside the main theatre of operations.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meeting with French President Francois Hollande on 3 June 2016.[xviii]

On 3 June Army Command Sgt. Major William F. Thetford, command senior enlisted leader for US Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, replaced Army Command Sgt. Major Christopher K. Greca as command senior enlisted advisor for CENTCOM, MacDill AFB.[xix]

On 8 June, US DOD Secretary Ash Carter and Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work held a meeting with Sweden’s Minister of Defense, Peter Hultqvist. Discussion topics included Russian aggression and expanding the counter-ISIL mission. Bob Work later met with the Defense Minister of Montenegro, Milica Pejanovic-Djuisic, thanking the minister for their commitment to Afghanistan.[xx] Also on June 8, Brigadier General Daniel R. Walrath, deputy commanding general (maneuver) 1st Armored Division; and commander Combined Joint Operations Center/Army Forces-Jordan, Operation Inherent Resolve, Jordan, was moved to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, US Army, Washington DC.[xxi]

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ISW European situation map, showing ISIL attacks between March 25 and July 15, 2016. Turkey’s greater involvement in the Coalition drew a number of ISIL backed attacks.

On 10 June, Brigadier General Aaron M. Prupas, the deputy director of intelligence, US Forces – Afghanistan, also assistant deputy of staff of intelligence to NATO HQ, Operation Resolute Support, was made the director (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance strategy, plans, policy, and force development) CENTCOM, Kabul, Afghanistan, under the Deputy Chief of Staff (ISR), USAF HQ at the Pentagon.[xxii] Brigadier General Aaron replaced Major General Linda R. Urrutia-Varhall who became the director (operations) and the military deputy at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Springfield, Virginia.

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            President Obama at the Department of Finance to give a statement on the Orlando shootings (12 June 2016), following a National Security Council meeting on June 14, 2016. James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, is standing in front of the camera. The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew are to his left.[xxiii] .[xxiv]

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14 June: NATO Defense Ministers meet in Brussels. US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter meets with Pedro Morenes Eluate, the Spanish Secretary of Defense , and Jeab-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defense for France.[xxv] Carter also met with Michael Fallon, Britain’s Secretary of State for Defence.[xxvi] Accelerating the ISIL campaign was discussed by all parties. Later, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter met with Fikri Isik, the Turkish Minister of Defense. Carter emphasized Turkey’s critical role in the Counter-ISIL Coalition. Carter also thanked the Minister for his support in the ongoing refugee crisis, and in his commitment to Afghan security.[xxvii] Carter also met with the Secretary of State for the Defence of France, Jean-Yves le Drian.[xxviii]

The next day, June 15, Carter met with General Stepan Poltorak, the Ukrainian Minister of Defense, and confirmed the US and NATO commitment to Ukrainian security, including US non-recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014.[xxix] On 16 June, Secretary Carter met with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman. Carter and bin Salman discussed Saudi Arabia’s important role in the counter-ISIL mission, as well as the Saudi operations to counter Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, particularly in Yemen.[xxx]

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Afghanistan situation map for June 30, 2016.[xxxi] ISW map. The long war entered its 15th year in October 2016.

On 17 June, the US Department of Defense released its Afghanistan situation report, “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan” covering the period December 2015 to May 2016.[xxxii] The report discussed the successes of the counter-ISIL mission in Afghanistan (Islamic State – Khorasan), as well as the ongoing NATO Operation Resolute Support and US led Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. The report, significantly, noted that insurgent violence has led to increased levels of civilian and Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) casualties. The report also highlighted ongoing capability gaps in the ANDSF (although noting that Afghanistan’s aerial capability had increased three times from its 2015 level thanks to the delivering of ground attack aircraft and helicopters), and observed that while the NATO commitment continues to hover around the 7,000 soldier level, the US was significantly short of its 9,800 troop level establishment during the report period. US troop level is expected to fall to 5,500 by January 2017.

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            A video-conference was held between Russian and US DOD personnel on 18 June regarding Russian airstrikes carried out on June 16 that targeted At-Tanf in Syria, where US backed Syrian opposition and counter-ISIL forces were stationed.[xxxiii] At the Pentagon, on 20 June, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter met with Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Minister of Defense. They discussed regional security concerns, as well as Lieberman’s planned visit to Fort Worth, Texas, where he would see the F-35 JSF production line (Israel will be the first foreign country to receive F-35s).[xxxiv] That same day, Carter issued a statement applauding Polish Minister of National Defense Macierewicz’s decision to deploy 60 special operations forces to Iraq, as well as commit four F-16s to Kuwait for reconnaissance missions.[xxxv] Likewise, Carter issued another statement, also 20 June, thanking Gerry Brownlee, the Minister of Defense of New Zealand, for his commitment to the training mission in Iraq through November 2018.[xxxvi]

            The next day, 21 June, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work met with the Dutch Minister of Defense Secretary-General Wim Geerts at the Pentagon, where the two discussed Europe and the counter-ISIL campaign.[xxxvii] On 24 June Ash Carter spoke by telephone with UK State Secretary for Defense Michael Fallon: they discussed the ongoing counter-ISIL mission and US-UK commitment to NATO.[xxxviii]

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US Secretary of State meets with NATO Secretary General for bilateral talks on 27 June 2016, in Brussels.[xxxix] The same day US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter issued a statement congratulating Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi for the progress made securing Fallujah from ISIL control.[xl]

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June 29, 2016: North American leaders summit working lunch at the National Gallery in Ottawa, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto. US Secretary of State John Kerry sits to Obama’s right and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice is to his left.[xli] Canada’s role in the Global Coalition remains complex, with the Liberal government committing 168 special operations forces to Iraq, while continuing to fly reconnaissance and refueling missions.

On June 28 there was a suicide bombing attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.[xlii] Secretary Carter called Turkish Minister of Defense Fikri Isik to express his condolences.[xliii]

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US President Obama discusses a statement on Afghanistan with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and General Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, July 6, 2016.[xliv]

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NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow meets with the Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Mohamed Ahmed Albowardi Alfalacy, of the United Arab Emirates, 6 July 2016[xlv] The UAE plays a crucial role in the coalition, providing basing and support for US airstrikes, while also committing to the all important training mission.

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8 July 2016, the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Secretary General Stoltenberg visits with NATO Allied Ground Surveillance personnel and their Global Hawk UAV.[xlvi]

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Jens Stoltenberg meets with US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Warsaw on 8 July 2016.[xlvii] Operation Resolute Support was the major subject of discussion, with commitments made to sustain the operation through the conclusion of 2016, with financial commitments made to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces through the 2020 timeframe. It was hoped Afghanistan would be capable of financial responsibility for its security forces by the end of 2024 (the conclusion of the “Transformation Decade” as arranged at the 2012 NATO Chicago Summit).

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Enemy attacks in Afghanistan, January 2014 to May 2016. The figures indicate an overall decline in IED and mine fatalities, but an increase in direct actions.

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8 July 2016, Family Portrait of NATO heads of state, Warsaw Summit.[xlviii] Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom smiles, despite having lost the Brexit Referendum in June. He was to subsequently to resign on July 13. A week after this picture was taken, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, standing in front of Chancellor Merkel, would survive the coup attempt of July 15, 2016.

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9 July 2016, Warsaw: Barack Obama shakes hands with Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer, Abdullah Abdullah and Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan. Ash Carter is on the left and Jens Stoltenberg on the right.[xlix] Secretary Carter later met with Turkey’s Defense Minister, Fikri Isik, expressing uniformity on the anti-ISIL mission, and looked forward to meeting again in Washington DC for the July 20-21 Counter-ISIL Defense Ministerial.[l] Carter then left for Baghdad, arriving July 11.

US Defense Secretary Carter met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi in Baghdad shortly after arriving on 11 July. At this meeting Carter highlighted the success achieved by capture the Qayyarah West airfield. Carter announced that the US intended to deploy another 560 troops to Iraq to build on momentum leading up to the planned assault on Mosul, an arrangement that had been made with CJTF-OIR commander Lt. General Sean MacFarland.[li] Mosul, the plan went, would be attacked from both north and south: in the north by Kurdish Peshmerga forces and in the south by Iraqi Security Forces. Manbij, the strategic hub along the Turkish border between Iraq and Syria, was now surrounded and under intensive aerial bombardment.

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July 15, 2016, President Obama meets with Gerard Araud, French Ambassador to the US, following the ISIS terrorist attack in Nice. US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian to offer his condolences.[lii]

On 19 July US Secretary Carter called Turkey’s Fikri Isik to reiterate his support for the democratically elected government, following the 15 July 2016 coup attempt.[liii]

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Global Coalition to Counter-ISIL Defence Ministerial, chaired by US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter, 20 July 2016, at Joint Base Andrews, outside Washington D.C.[liv] Carter later spoke with French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian. Carter expressed gratitude for the decision to deploy France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to support the CJTF.[lv] Carter also met with the Defense Ministers from Saudi Arabia and Australia, both involved in the training mission in Iraq.

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French (and USN and German) naval forces operating against ISIL.

On 26 July the next video-conference between Russian MOD and US DOD personnel took place.[lvi] On 28 July Brigadier General Terrence J. McKenrick, the commanding general, Brigade Modernization Command, Army Capabilities Integration Center, US Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Bliss, Texas, was promoted to deputy commanding general, US Army Central/Third Army, Kuwait.[lvii]

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August 2, 2016. President Obama greets Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore on the White House south lawn. The Prime Minister also met with Secretary Carter for a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

On 2 August Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Eric D. Neilsen, was moved from the Joint Special Operations Air Component – Central, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, to become the senior enlisted leader for NATO Special Operations Forces, Supreme HQ Allied Powers Europe, Mons, Belgium; highlighting the close integration between CTJF and NATO special operations.[lviii]

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Russian airstrikes in Syria, July 28 to August 20, 2016. Institute for the Study of War map.[lix]

September 7, 2016: Secretary Carter met with Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman for a bilateral meeting during the London UN Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial. They discussed regional security and ISIL.[lx] Carter then met with Fikri Isik, Turkey’s Minister of Defense, on September 8. Carter reaffirmed his commitment to Turkey’s security, and assured the minister of US support for anti-ISIL operations along the Turkish border.[lxi]

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ISW situation map for ISIL activity in Turkey the year of 2015-2016.[lxii]

On 16 September, the US President’s National Security Council met. It was noted that at this time in the campaign, 50% of Iraq territory once controlled by ISIL had been recaptured, and that ISIL in Syria was now effectively cut off from the outside world.[lxiii]

The next video-conference between US DOD and Russian MOD liaisons took place on September 14, with another conference held on 22 September following the Russian or Syrian regime airstrikes on a UN aid convoy, disrupting the weeklong ceasefire agreement before the end of September.[lxiv]

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September 20: US President Barack Obama before delivering his final presidential address at the UN General Assembly.[lxv]

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            Stoltenberg attending the UN General Assembly session on 20 September 2016, during his visit to New York.[lxvi]

             On 22 September, Secretary Ash Carter met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Pentagon. They discussed US and Australian support for the counter-ISIL mission and the ongoing campaign in Afghanistan, as well as regional security concerns, the recent North Korean nuclear test, and naval developments in the Asia-Pacific.[lxvii]

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            Also on 22 September, the United Kingdom’s Michael Fallon met with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, who expressed gratitude for the UK’s commitment to the coalition training mission.

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            NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attends a seminar at the Kennedy School, Harvard, during his visit to the United States, 23 September 2016. NATO and the Coalition took great lengths to explain the importance of the mission to often skeptical populations; the Combined Joint Task Force continued to maintain youtube and twitter pages filled with regular updates on airstrikes and other coalition movements.

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Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dunford and Secretary Ash Carter state that the coalition has gained momentum in battling ISIL in Syria, September 24, 2016.[lxviii] On September 28, Carter announced that an additional 600 US soldiers were being committed to Iraq, in anticipation of the Mosul offensive.[lxix]

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19 September. CJTF-OIR commander Lt. General Townsend meets US Army Secretary Eric Fanning in Baghdad at the beginning of the Secretary’s tour of US forces in Iraq.

Operations in Transition: Escalation

            The summer of 2016 was a transitional period for the CJTF: while Ramadi had been recaptured at the end of 2015, and Hit was soon to follow (April 2016), with the Mosul – Raqqa corridor squeezed at Sinjar, although Fallujah was still under ISIL control. Much of the air campaign over the past five months was focused on the degrading of ISIL forces in preparation for the expected showdown over the ISIL capitals in Syria and Iraq.

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Two French Mirage 2000Ds refuel over Iraq, April 8, 2016.

In the target information section of the CJTF-OIR strike reports, it is not unusual to see one strike credited with destroying dozens of ISIL fuel trucks, or destroying a cluster of local targets, from tunnels, bridges, rocket vehicles, VIEDs, IEDs and explosives factories, many boats and river craft, medium and heavy machine gun positions, bunkers, communications, HQ, and training facilities, currency mints, oil derricks, pump jacks, well heads, technicals, tactical vehicles, bulldozers, rear-end loaders, recoilless rifles, artillery pieces, mortars, weapons caches, fighting entrenchments, ISIL camera positions, sniper positions, multistory buildings, entire House Borne IEDs (HBIEDs), and some particularly interesting targets such as battle tanks and at least one ISIL controlled drone. A typical example, representative of the dozens of strikes conducted during any given day, are six strikes executed near Qayyarah, on April 5, 2016, destroying an ISIL tactical unit, weapons storage facility, four mortar firing positions, a supply cache, a VBIED production facility, and 13 staging areas.

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Table showing the monthly weapon release figures for one year of the war, February 2015 – 2016. The low figures in the spring of 2015 coincide with the withdrawal of the B-1B bombers for modifications, and subsequent uptick with the arrival of B-52s.[lxx]

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Table showing breakdown of CJTF-OIR strike mission targets for April 2016.[lxxi] Mosul was the most heavily attacked, receiving 137 strikes, nearly twice as many as Mar’a in Syrian, with 70 strikes. Fallujah, Hit and Qayyarah received more than 50 strikes each.

            A huge series of strikes were carried out against ISIL controlled refinery assets near Mosul on 14 and 15 April 2016.[lxxii]

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16 April: airstrikes target a VBEID and ISIL troop barracks near Al Hawl.[lxxiii]

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18 April: coalition strikes destroy ISIL explosives and IED factories at Qayyarah[lxxiv]

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Coalition strikes on April 24, targeting ISIL munitions factories in Fallujah and Sultan Abdallah, fighting positions around Manbij were also attacked.[lxxv] More ISIL infantry positions were engaged outside Fallujah on 25 April.[lxxvi]

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Qayyarah was targeted on 27 April, as was Al Huwayjah.[lxxvii] An HQ facility at Washiyah, Syria, was also destroyed.

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On 28 April an ISIL fueling station outside Mosul was destroyed.[lxxviii] Mar’a was also targeted.[lxxix]

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An ISIL VBIED factory at Al Qam was destroyed on 29 April. Additional VBIEDs were targeted near Kirkuk.[lxxx]

On 4 May 2016, the US Defense Department announced that Special Warfare Operator 1st Class, Charles H. Keating, a US Navy SEAL, had been killed in combat at Tall Usquf Iraq, May 3.[lxxxi] On 8 May, the DoD announced that 1st Lt. David A. Bauders of Seattle Washington, 176th Engineer Company, had been killed while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, on 6 May at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq due to a non-combat related incident.[lxxxii]

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Weapons facilities at Qayyarah were bombed on May 5.[lxxxiii]

            On 10 May US Special Operations Command carried out a hostage rescue raid in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, freeing Ali Haider Gilani, son of Pakistant’s former Prime Minister, had been held captive for three years by Al Qaeda.[lxxxiv]

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19 May: Snipers in Ar Rutbah are targeted.[lxxxv]

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On 20 May, the ISIS Syrian capital at Ar Raqqah was hit, a huge weapons cache destroyed along with an oil derrick.[lxxxvi] A mortar position at Mar’a was targeted on May 21. Another weapons cache was destroyed on May 22, again near Mar’a.[lxxxvii] Also on 21 May, the US killed Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Mansour in an airstrike in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Mansour had been the Taliban leader since July 2015. He was succeeded by Mullah Haybatullah Akhundzada.

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On 24 May a VBIED was destroyed at Fallujah.[lxxxviii] PGM circled.

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An ISIL HQ building in Mosul was destroyed on 25 May.[lxxxix]

On 23 May, the US DOD announced that Taliban leader Mullah Mansur had been killed in an airstrike carried out along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border on 21 May.[xc] On 28 May, Gunner’s Mate Seaman Connor Alan McQuagge, a 19 yearold from Utah, died of a non-combat related injury while underway in the Red Sea, aboard USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.[xci]

On 27 May the US conducted an airstrike against Abdullahi Haji Da’ud, an al-Shabaab commander in south-central Somalia. Da’ud was responsible for coordinating militia operations between Somalia, Kenya and Uganda, and had been head of Amniyat, the al-Shabaab intelligence branch.[xcii]

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Another large ISIL VBIED was destroyed at Fallujah on 28 May.[xciii] PGM circled.

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ISIL technical destroyed at Hit on 30 May.[xciv]

An Iraqi Shi'ite fighter fires artillery during clashes with Islamic State militants near Falluja

May 29, Iraq Shiite fighters fire artillery at ISIL controlled Fallujah.[xcv]

As of May 31 2016, 20,131 US military personnel had been wounded and 1,843 killed in Afghanistan since the start of the conflict in October 2001.

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Strike data for June 2016. Manbij, along the strategic M4 route to Aleppo, received 32% of all strikes, over 276 of the 874 strikes conducted that month. Qayyarah accounted for 106 strikes, Mosul and Fallujah another 96 and 80 respectively.

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On 6 June an ISIL oil tanker facility at Mosul was bombed.[xcvi] On 11 June a fuel weighing station at Qayyarah was destroyed as part of the mission to disrupt ISIL oil supplies.[xcvii] Mosul was bombed again on 14 June.

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Another ISIL technical is destroyed near Mar’a, 18 June.[xcviii] An ISIL position is bombed, 21 June, near Mabij.[xcix]

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ISIL technical destroyed near Manbij, 22 June.[c] PGM circled. That day the US DOD reported that Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew J. Clement, 38, had died on 21 June from non-combat injuries sustained while he was deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.[ci]

On 25 June the US conducted strikes against two ISIL commanders near Mosul, killing both: Basim Muhammad Ahmad Sultan al-Bajari, ISIL’s deputy minister of war (and former al Qaeda operative), and Hatim Talib al-Hamundi, ISIL military commander, Mosul.[cii]

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On 26 June, Iraqi forces announced that Fallujah had been fully liberated, ISIS losses estimated at 2,500.[ciii] ISF Counter-Terrorism soldier drives through the streets of Fallujah.

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An ISIL convoy destroyed by coalition airstrikes, June 29, 2016.[civ] An uparmoured dump truck was also destroyed at Abu Kamal the same day.[cv]

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Fleeing ISIL vehicle about to be hit by airstrike (in red) outside Habbaniyah, Iraq, 29 June 2016.[cvi]

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A building complex controlled by fighters is demolished on 30 June 2016 near Manbij. Manbij was the most heavily bombed target for June and August.[cvii]

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Russian airstrikes in Syria between 18 June and 28 June, 2016. ISW map.[cviii]

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Syrian Democratic Forces fighter watches coalition airstrike near Manbij, July 2016.[cix]

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Iraqi Army Aviation M-28 Havoc attack helicopters annihilate an ISIL convoy fleeing Fallujah, July 2016.[cx] The helicopter attacking here is circled.

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3 July 2016: ISIL vehicle destroyed near Manbij.[cxi]

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ISIL controlled building are destroyed on 5 July 2016 near Manbij.[cxii]

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ISIL VBIED moments before destruction by coalition airstrike, outside Bayji, 7 July 2016.[cxiii]

On 9 July, US Forces-Afghanistan killed Umar Khalifa in an airstrike. Khalifa was a leader of the Tariq Gidar Group of the Islamic Sate-Khorasan Province, and responsible for multiple high profile attacks in Pakistan.[cxiv]

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11 July, ISIL artillery piece destroyed near Manbij. PGM circled.[cxv]

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13 July 2016: more buildings targeted in Manbij.

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Buildings in Manbij explode as they are targeted by CJTF-OIR airstrikes, 11 July.[cxvi]

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Rubble in Manbij, 16 July 2016.

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16 July 2016, B-52 refuels from KC-10 Extender, Iraq.[cxvii]

The US DOD announced that 1st Lt. Anais A. Tobar, 25 years old, of Miami, Florida, had died on 18 July in Southwest Asia, in a non-combat related incident. 1st Lt. Tobar had been supporting Operation Inherent Resolve when she was killed.[cxviii]

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Fireball engulfs Manbij neighbourhood on 19 July 2016.[cxix]

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A huge cloud of smoke spirals up from an airstrike on Manbij, 24 July 2016.[cxx] Further strikes were carried on 26 July.

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Al Baghdadi was the subject of airstrikes on 25 July.[cxxi]

On July 26 US forces conducted an airstrike against ISIL-K in Afghanistan, targeting Hafiz Sayed Khan, killing him. Khan was an ISIL emire involved in recruiting and participating in attacks in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.[cxxii]

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Fireball from coalition airstrike on Manbij, 27 July 2016.[cxxiii]

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ISW map for late July 19-25, showing terrorist activity in Iraq.[cxxiv]

Lt. Col. Flando E. Jackson, USAF, died on 4 August in Southwest Asia from non-combat injuries sustained during support for Operation Inherent Resolve.[cxxv]

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Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force “Strike”, carries out a fire mission with their M777 howitzer in support of Iraqi Security Forces operating at Kara Soar Base, 7 August 2016.[cxxvi] Artillery fire missions are not counted in any of the coalition air campaign strike tallies, nor are the Russian or Syrian regime figures.

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CJTF OIR strikes for August 2016. Manbij, close to the Turkish border, continued to be targeted, receiving 144 strikes, more than twice as many as Mosul (61) and more than three times as many as Qayyarah (49). Ar Raqqah, the Islamic State’s capital in Syria, was only struck 14 times, for 3% of all strikes. 522 strikes were conducted in August.

On 1 August the US conducted an airstrike against Sirte, Libya, stating that the airstrike had been requested by the Libyan government to counter ISIL forces.[cxxvii]

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August 9: Coalition airstrikes destroy ISIL command and control node near Sultan Abdallah, Iraq.[cxxviii]

A terrorist attack was carried out in Southern Turkey on 10 August.[cxxix] On 14 August the DOD announced that Staff Sgt. Christopher A Wilbur, US Army, 36 years old, died from non-combat injuries on 12 August, in Kandahar, Afghanistan while supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.[cxxx]

On 13 August, Syrian Democratic Forces announced that they had occupied Manbij.[cxxxi] On 15 August the US DOD announced the liberation of Manbij.[cxxxii]

On August 23rd one US soldier, Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson, 28 years old, of Irvine California, was killed and another wounded, along with 6 Afghan Security Forces soldiers in an IED blast in Helmand province.[cxxxiii]

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Coalition airstrike destroys an ISIL VBIED factory near Mosul on 25 August.[cxxxiv]

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Turkish APCs head towards Jarablus on August 25. Turkey began its armed intervention in the Syrian Civil War on 24 August, taking aim against both Kurdish and ISIL fighters.

The delicate diplomatic situation between Turkey and the Kurdish YPG forces in Manbij was redressed somewhat when Kurdish forces withdrew from Manbij on 25 August.[cxxxv]

On 30 August the US conducted an airstrike against Abu Muhammad Al-Adani, near Al Bab, Syria. Al-Adani, who was killed, was an ISIL spokesman and recruiter, responsible for organizing lone-wolf attacks.[cxxxvi] Another strike, carried out 7 September against Raqqa in Syria, killed Wa’il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayad (“Dr. Wa’il), a senior ISIL leader, information minister, and a member of the Senior Shura Council. Wa’il was credited with overseeing production of the Islamic State’s gruesome propaganda videos.[cxxxvii]

The DOD announced that 1st Lt. Jeffrey D. Cooper, 25 years old, had died September 10 in Kuwait from non-combat-related injuries.[cxxxviii] On September 9, US Air Force Chief of Staff, General David Goldein stated that the air campaign was gaining momentum.[cxxxix]

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11 September 2016, Task Force “Strike”, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, trains with 15th Iraqi Army Division soldiers during their advise and assist mission in support of CJTF-OIR in Kuwait.[cxl]

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13 September, 7RAR (7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment) soldiers train with ISF at Taji.

On 16 September Warrant Officer Travis R. Tamayo, 32, of Brownsville, Texas died from a non-combat related incident in Abu Dhabi, UAE, while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.[cxli]

On 17 September, the DOD announced that it may have struck Syrian regime forces near Dayr Az Zawr.[cxlii] On 20 September the US Navy announced the death of Aviation Boatswain’s Mate, Airman, Devon M. Faulkner, 24, who died from non-combat related injuries while supporting Operation Odyssey Lightning, the US campaign in Libya.[cxliii]

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21 September, 2016. US Secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning, takes photographs with Task Force Strike soldiers during his visit to the Combined Joint Task Force.[cxliv]

ISF forces raised the Iraqi flag over Sharqat on 23 September, liberating the city.[cxlv]

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Infographic provided on the CJTF OIR website showing total training establishment as of September 24.[cxlvi]

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September 25, 2016. CJTFOIR commander, Lt. General Stephen J. Townsend met with XVIII Airborne Corps soldiers at the Qayyarah airfield, Iraq.[cxlvii] XVIII Airborne Corps had previously led the coalition mission in Afghanistan, completing its tour there in December 2014. Townsend, commanding XVIII Airborne Corps, replaced Lt. General Sean MacFarland, III Armored Corps, shortly after 10 August, 2016. Townsend is expected to oversee the CJTF-OIR assaults on Mosul (Operation Conquest) and Raqqa, the ISIL capitals in Iraq and Syria. Russian airstrikes against Aleppo dramatically accelerated at the end of September, as Syrian regime forces prepared to enter the city in what many expect will be the decisive battle of the Syrian Civil War.[cxlviii]

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RAF Tornado with 500 lb/230 kg Paveway IV laser-guided bombs on a strike mission, September 23, 2016.[cxlix]

Conclusions

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USAF F-4C Wild Weasel flying over North Vietnam, December 1972.[cl]

During Operation Linebacker I between May and October 1972, 150,000 tons of munitions were dropped on North Vietnam; probably more than 130 kilotons: 300 million lbs.[cli] 40,000 tons were dropped on the area around An Loc between April and June 1972, while B-52s, flying 2,700 sorties, dropped 57,000 tons in Quang Tri Province. 18,000 sorties were flown in Military Region I, including Hue and Quang Tri.[clii] The B-52 Operation Linebacker II raids over eleven days in December 1972 produced 729 sorties and more than 20,000 tons dropped: 40 million lbs. One million tons of bombs were dropped during Operation Rolling Thunder, March 1965 to November 1968, the equivalent of 40 B-52s dropping full payloads, 800 tons, per day.[cliii]

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B-52 refueling over Southeast Asia, 1967.[cliv] Operation Arc Light preceded Linebacker. B-52Ds could deliver 40,000 lbs of bombs. In the 1990s, the B-52G delivered 66,000 lbs of bombs, and modernized B-52Hs can carry 70,000 lbs, a typical strike package consisting of eighteen 1000 lb mk83 bombs.

In Iraq and Syria the tempo of the air campaign remains enormous, with 17,369 weapons releases for the first seven months of 2016, with an average of almost 2,500 launches per month. In December 2015, 21,113 sorties yielded 715 strikes that delivered 3,139 releases (often described as “bombs dropped”). That year a total of 21,113 sorties were flown. Of those, at least 9,914 had resolved in a weapons launch, with a number of estimates putting the total number of bombs dropped and guided missiles fired (presumably excluding cannon expended, although cannon attacks are included in the strike figures), at over 20,000 for 2015. For the first seven months of 2016, the figure was 12,350 sorties, with 6,575 of those sorties resulting in a weapons launch.

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KC-135 Stratotanker flies over New Jersey on 31 August 2016.[clv] KC-135 and other refueling assets conducted 46,535 aircraft refuelings as of 31 July 2016, year to date.[clvi]

In April 2016 there were 2,582 weapons releases, then 2,341 coalition aircraft weapon releases in May.[clvii] There were 3,167 in June (almost double the quantity of launches in June the previous year),[clviii] and in July 2016 the B-52s began to operate in Afghanistan. In Iraq and Syria, 2,411 weapons were launched that month.[clix] There have been numerous reports that US stockpiles are decreasing, with the munitions industry struggling to keep up with demand for JDAMs, 1000 lb laser guided bombs, and other precision guided ordinance. The coalition is undoubtedly dropping many hundreds of thousands of lbs of munitions on Iraq and Syria, perhaps more than a million of lbs, every month. Keep in mind that none of these figures include Syrian regime airstrikes, or Russian airstrikes in Syria.

B1B2.JPG

In February 2016, Rockwell’s B-1B Lancers, comprising the bulk of the USAF bomber force, and responsible for dropping 1/3 of total ordinance between July and January 2015,[clx] were withdrawn from the CJTF-OIR theatre for systems, weapons (JASSM-ER) and cockpit upgrades. Each B-1 can deliver 125,000 lbs of ordinance, with a typical load of 75,000 lbs of bombs not uncommon. This B-1B, with F-16 and F-15K escort, flies over South Korea on 21 September 2016, UN International Peace Day, in a show of resolve following the latest North Korean nuclear test.[clxi] The B-52s and B-1Bs have now been integrated into the USAF Global Strike Command, and will no doubt be deployed together in the expected air war finale, possibly before the end of the year.

[i] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_134215.htm

[ii] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_130212.htm

[iii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/740029/general-officer-assignments

[iv] https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/imagecache/gallery_img_full/image/image_file/vpotus_baghdad.jpg

[v] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/745287/general-officer-announcement

[vi] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/745154/statement-by-secretary-of-defense-ash-carter-on-lt-gen-thomas-waldhauser

[vii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/747626/statement-by-secretary-of-defense-ash-carter-on-norways-decision-to-expand-role

[viii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/751030/general-officer-announcements

[ix] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/751477/readout-of-secretary-carters-meeting-with-danish-minister-of-defense-peter-chri

[x] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/757136/statement-by-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-us-russia-video-conference

[xi] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/759621/statement-by-secretary-of-defense-ash-carter-on-belgiums-expanded-role-in-the-c

[xii] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_130941.htm

[xiii]

[xiv] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_131090.htm

[xv] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/780277/general-officer-assignments

[xvi] https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/imagecache/gallery_img_full/image/image_file/_b4a8635.jpg

[xvii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/790166/readout-of-secretary-carters-meeting-with-singaporean-prime-minister-lee-hsien

[xviii] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_131963.htm

[xix] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/791045/command-senior-enlisted-leader-assignment

[xx] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/794803/readout-of-deputy-secretary-of-defense-bob-works-meeting-with-montenegrin-minis

[xxi] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/794218/general-officer-assignments

[xxii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/796688/general-officer-assignments

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