Battle of Pondicherry

10th September 1759
Part of : Seven Years' War (1756/05/17 - 1763/02/10)
Previous action : Battle of Lagos Bay 18.8.1759 - 19.8.1759
Next action : Fortune vs Hebe 19.11.1759

This was the third and last in a series of actions between the British under Vice-Admiral Vice-Admiral George Pocock and the French Admiral Comte d'Aché in the Indian Ocean. The other battles were Cuddalore and Negapatam.

The French squadron was comprised of French Compagnie des Indies vessels and not French Naval vessels.


Royaume de France

French Squadron, Anne Antoine d'Aché (Comte d'Aché de Serquigny) (1701-1780)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
L'Actif (64) Froger de L'Éguille
Le Minotaure (74) de Rhuys
Le Duc d'Orléans (54)  
Le Saint Louis (54)  
Le Vengeur (64)  
Le Zodiaque (74) Jacques-Antoine de GothoFleet Flagship CO Killed
Le Comte de Provence (68) Jean-Jacques de La Chaise
Le Duc de Bourgogne (54) Joseph Bouvet
L'Illustre (64) de Beauchesne
Le Fortuné (60) Etienne Lobry
Le Centaure (70) René-Louis de Surville CO Killed
La Sylphide (30) François-Aymar Monteil (Comte de Monteil) (1725-1787) Not in the line
La Diligente (26) Marc-Joseph Macé Marion du Fresne (Sieur du Fresne) (1724-1772) Not in the line

Great Britain

British Squadron, George Pocock (1705/6-1792)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Elizabeth (64) Richard Tiddeman (d.1762)
Newcastle (50) Colin Michie (d.1759) CO Killed
Tiger (60) William Brereton (1728-1800)
Grafton (68) Richard Kempenfelt (1715-1782)Fleet Flagship
Yarmouth (64) John Harrison (c.1720-1791)Squadron Flagship
Cumberland (66) Robert Kirk (c.1731-1798)
Salisbury (50) Sir William Baird (5th Baronet of Saughton Hall) (c.1727-1771)
Sunderland (60) James Colville (d.1761)
Weymouth (60) Sir William Baird (5th Baronet of Saughton Hall) (c.1727-1771)
Queenborough (24) Digby Dent (1739-1817) Not in the line

Notes on Action


At 6 A.M., however, on September 10th, the French bore S.E. by S., distant eight or nine miles, sailing in line of battle ahead on the starboard tack. Pocock, in line of battle abreast, bore down on them with the wind about N.W. by W. At 10 A.M. the enemy wore, and formed a line of battle ahead on the larboard tack; and an hour afterwards Pocock did the same, the Elizabeth leading. The action was begun on the British side by Rear-Admiral Stevens, who, in the Grafton, attacked the Zodiaque. The tactics of the day present no features of special interest; and the action is chiefly remarkable for the fury with which it was fought; for the fact that, owing to various defects, two of the British ships were able to take only a very insignificant part in the engagement; and because, in the evening, the whole of the superior French squadron bore away and stood to the S.S.E. under a crowd of sail. Most of the British ships were far too damaged to be able to pursue; and, having ordered the East India Company's frigate Revenge to observe the motions of the French, Pocock lay to on the larboard tack to enable his most shattered vessels to repair damages. At dawn on September 11th the French were seen in the S.S.E., about twelve miles away, lying to on the larboard tack, the wind being about west. On perceiving the British, they at once wore and brought to on the other tack, and so continued until evening, when they were so far off that they were almost out of sight. At that time, the wind veering to the east, Pocock signalled his ships to wear, and stood under easy sail to the south-west; the Sunderland towing the Newcastle, the Weymouth, the Tiger, and the Elizabeth the Cumberland.

The loss sustained by the French in the engagement was, all things considered, enormous, amounting, as it did, to nearly 1500 killed and wounded. Among the killed were the captains of the Zodiaque and Centaure, and among the wounded was d'Aché himself. The French made for Pondicherry. The loss on the British side was also very heavy, being 569 killed and wounded, including 184 who were either killed outright or died of their wounds. Among the killed was captain Colin Michie of the Newcastle, and among the wounded were Captain Somerset of the Cumberland and Captain Brereton of the Tiger.



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