1760 - British operations on the Atlantic coasts of France

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The campaign lasted from January to December 1760

Description

During the year 1760, the British squadrons on active service on the French coasts were disposed as follows:

  • Commodore Piercy Brett commanded in the Downs and North Sea
  • Rear-admiral George Brydges Rodney cruised in the Channel and blockaded Le Havre
  • Admirals Edward Hawke and Edward Boscawen relieved one another in Quiberon Bay and watched the French vessels in the Vilaine and Charente, and at Brest, Lorient, and Rochefort.

Admiral Boscawen, after the return of Sir Edward Hawke, sailed to command the fleet in Quiberon Bay, with his flag in the Royal William (100) and with Rear-Admiral Francis Geary, in the Sandwich (90), as second in command. While he was going to his station, the Ramillies (90), Captain Wittewronge Taylor, of his squadron, went ashore on Bolt Head in a gale and was lost, the crew all perishing except one midshipman and 25 men. Boscawen, who was obliged by the heavy weather to return, subsequently shifted his flag to the Namur (90) and proceeded. His cruisers took several prizes; but the French fleet did not indeed, could not, come out. The blockade prevented the French from sending supplies across the Atlantic, and from interfering with British trade.

In August, Sir Edward Hawke, in the Royal George (100), relieved Boscawen.

On September 1, Boscawen returned to England. This was his last service. He died at his house, Hatchlands, near Guildford, on January 10, 1761.

Hawke pursued his predecessor's policy, and was equally successful. Rear-Admiral Rodney, cruising off Le Havre, was not less energetic.

An expedition, to be commanded by Commodore Augustus Keppel and to be directed either against Mauritius and Bourbon or against the coast of France, was in preparation when, on October 27, George II died. This important event led to considerable delay.

On December 13, orders were given for Keppel's fleet to return from St. Helen's, where it lay ready for sea, to Spithead, and for the troops on board to be disembarked. For that season the enterprise was given up.

By 1760 the French navy had been so nearly annihilated that but two or three ships of the British Royal Navy were taken by the French; and French trade had been so diminished that the British cruisers made but comparatively few captures only 110 vessels in all. But the British mercantile losses by the ravages of small privateers were enormous. As many as 330 trading vessels were taken. Few of them, however, were of any considerable size; and, in spite of the loss, British trade flourished exceedingly. It was, no doubt, chiefly owing to its healthy condition that the commercial marine experienced so many losses.

References

This article is essentially a compilation of texts from the following book which is now in the public domain:

  • Clowes, Wm. Laird, The Royal Navy – A History from the Earliest Time to the Present, Vol. III, Sampson Low, Marston and Company, London: 1898, pp. 224, 231-232