Thursday, February 09, 2006

 

Remembering another victory over the French

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Navy News
February 07, 2006


GUNFIRE reverberated around Plymouth Sound as the cannon of HMS Northumberland barked once more.

The Type 23 frigate fired a 13-gun salute as she passed Drake’s Island; the ceremonial gun in The Citadel on Plymouth Hoe responded, all in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of San Domingo.

The Caribbean battle is often seen as the bookend of the Trafalgar campaign and the last fleet action of the Napoleonic wars.

Five French ships had escaped the blockade of Brest and fled to the Caribbean, chased all the way by a superior Royal Navy force under Vice Admiral Duckworth.

Unprepared and with some of their sailors still ashore, the French squadron weighed anchor on February 6 1806 when British ships were spied approaching.

Duckworth brought seven ships of the line to bear against his foe, led by HMS Superb.

In a fierce two-hour battle, three French ships of the line were captured and two more ran aground for the loss of 74 dead and 264 wounded on the British side. The French are thought to have suffered in excess of 1,500 casualties.

Among the British casualties were 29 ship’s company of the 74-gun HMS Northumberland; the ship was also dismasted in the battle.

“San Domingo clearly does not have the same national significance as Trafalgar, but it was nevertheless an a very important victory – particularly for HMS Northumberland,” said Cdr Tom Guy, CO of today’s Northumberland.

“We are celebrating the courage and professionalism of those involved – values central to today’s Royal Navy.”

The commemoration provided a welcome break for the frigate from the rigours of Operational Sea Training which Northumberland is currently enduring.


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