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Action off Brighthelmstone

1st May 1707
Part of : War of Spanish Succession (1701 - 1714)
Previous action : Action of 1706/11/20 20.11.1706
Next action : Battle of Toulon 29.7.1707 - 22.8.1707

 

Great Britain

 
Convoy Escort,
Baron WyldeBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1683-1707
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Royal Oak (70) 1690-1710
British 70 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Baron WyldeBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1683-1707
Fleet Flagship
Grafton (70) 1700-1707
British 70 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Edward ActonBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1691-1707
Captured
Hampton Court (70) 1701-1707
British 70 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
George ClementsBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1694-1706
Captured
 

Royaume de France

 
French Squadron,
Claude de Forbin (Comte de Forbin-Gardanne)French
Naval Sailor
Service 1675-1715
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Mars (54) 1705-1721
French 54 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Claude de Forbin (Comte de Forbin-Gardanne)French
Naval Sailor
Service 1675-1715
Fleet Flagship
Le Blakoual (52) 1705-1708
French 52 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Jean Alexandre de TourouvreFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1657-1707
Le Salisbury (50) 1703-1708
French 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Kerlo de l' IsleFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1706-1707
,
Louis-Isidore Andigné (Chevalier de Vezins)French
Naval Sailor
Service 1657-1707
Protée (48) 1700-1725
French 48 Gun
4th Rate Frigate (Frégate-Vaisseau de 1er Ordre)
1705 Renamed "Protée"
Henri Illiers (Comte d'Illiers)French
Naval Sailor
Service 1677-1707
Le Gerze (42) 1691-1717
French 42 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
François Cornil BartFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1688-1713
Le Griffon (48) 1705-1748
French 48 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
La Dauphine (60) 1706-1719
French 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Jacques Aymar de Roquefeuil (Comte de Roquefeuil)French
Naval Sailor
Administrator
Service 1681-1722
,
Jean de Gouyon-Beaufort (Chevalier de Gouyon)French
Naval Sailor
Privateer
Service 1690-1733
Le Fidèle (58) 1704-1712
French 58 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
HennequinFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1657-1757
 

Notes on Action


PrologueTRN2
In the spring of 1707, Forbin cruised in the North Sea with the Mars, 54, his own flagship Blackwall, 54, Salisbury, 52, Protee, 48, Jersey, 46, Griffon, 44, Dauphine, 44, Fidele, 44, and another man-of-war, besides four corvettes or " barques longues," and several small privateers. On May 1st, the Royal Oak, 70, Captain Baron Wyld, Hampton Court, 70, Captain George Clements, and Grafton, 70, Captain Edward Acton, left the Downs with a convoy of about forty merchantmen bound to the westward. On the same day, off Brighthelmstone, Forbin, who had doubtless had his eye for some time upon the convoy, came up with and attacked it.
Description of the action taken from Clowe The Royal Navy Vol IITRN2
Says the official English account:

"the Grafton was boarded by three men-of-war of fifty-six guns, who carried her after a warm dispute of half an hour. The Hampton Court was attacked by one of the men-of-war, and afterwards boarded by two others; from which, with great difficulty, she disengaged herself; but, as she was bearing away, fell in with two fresh ships which shot away her mainmast and foretop-mast. The Royal Oak, Captain Baron Wyld, commander, came up to her assistance, but, finding her ensign struck, made the best of her way to save herself, having eleven feet water in the hold, and being very much shattered. In the engagement he had received several shots under water from two French men-of-war, of fifty and fifty-six guns, that were on board him above half a quarter of an hour; but he plied them so warmly that they were forced to sheer off, not without being much disabled."

The Royal Oak made her way back as far as Dungeness, where she beached herself. She was ultimately saved; but both the Hampton Court and the Grafton were carried into Dunquerque. Captain Clements, mortally wounded by a shot in the belly, had continued to fight his ship until he had fallen senseless on her deck, and until she had lost two hundred of her people killed and wounded. Soon after the vessel was taken possession of, a young midshipman, " taking an opportunity of the confusion which prevailed at that time, and the greater attention of the enemy to the plunder than the care of their prisoners, caused his poor dying commander to be conveyed through a porthole into the longboat, which happened to be astern. He himself followed with seven others of the crew. They concealed themselves under the thwarts as well as they could, till the Hampton Court and the enemy's squadron had drifted so far with the flood as to render it safe for them to take to their oars, when, by a very happy but almost incredible exertion, they reached Rye on the 3rd of May."

Captain Clements died in the boat. Captain Acton also perished, fighting with the utmost gallantry. According to Forbin, the privateers took twenty-two of the merchantmen. The French losses were very heavy, and among the dead was Captain de Vezins, of the Salisbury.

This affair caused great excitement in England, it being generally assumed that the disaster might have been avoided if the Admiralty had caused itself to be properly informed of the movements of the enemy, and if it had provided adequate convoy. But Captain Wyld was not blamed; and he was, indeed, as soon as his ship had been refitted, again employed on similar service.

Other VesselsTRN2
Also present were an unidentified French Man of War, (possibly the Dryade 40), 4 Barque-Longue of 8 Guns & Crew 60 and several privateers


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