Battle of Dungeness (1666)
The Battle of Dungeness or the Battle of Cape Dungeness (French: Bataille du cap Dungeness) (17 September 1666) was a naval battle that took place during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. A combined French and Dutch fleet under Job Forant encountered a larger English fleet commanded by Admiral Sir Thomas Allin, 1st Baronet. The English attacked and in poor visibility a series of encounters left several French and Dutch ships badly damaged. The battle ended with the English having captured the French ship Le Rubis.
The Second Anglo-Dutch War had been raging for a year between the kingdom of England and the Dutch Republic over the colonial possessions of the two countries. Fighting mostly involved naval encounters, which took place in European waters and the West Indies. France was allied to the Dutch Republic and Denmark. In 1666 the English fleet controlled the North Sea after its victory in the St James's Day Fight and the Dutch had also been dealt a severe blow after the English raid known as Holmes's Bonfire.
Louis IX of France and his general superintendent of navigation, François de Vendôme, Duc de Beaufort, had decided that this was the time to act as the English would be distracted by the recent Great Fire of London, which ended on 5 September. Louis had ordered that the French and Dutch fleets be united against England. A French squadron of eight ships, commanded by capitaine de vaisseau Job Forant aboard La Sophie (60 guns) had departed from Toulon and was joined by a small Dutch squadron bringing the total to fourteen ships. The Franco-Dutch fleet entered the English Channel, seeking to join the main Dutch fleet in the Netherlands. It encountered heavy weather, and off Dungeness the fleet came across a larger English force of 25 ships under the command of Admiral Thomas Allin.
Allin pursued the combined fleet and a battle commenced. Visibility was poor the action was very confused. The English had the weather gage and inflicted heavy damage on the French ships Le Bourbon (66 guns) and Le Mazarin (48 guns) under Captains Rabesnières-Treillebois and Villepars respectively. Battling six English ships, they succeeded in dropping out with heavy damage and casualties and escaped to Le Havre. The French ships Le Mercœur (32 guns) and L'Oms and the Dutch Prins te Paard and Oosterwijk were forced to abandon the fight. Le Dragon (42 guns) under captain Préaux-Mercey after having been nearly surrounded by three English ships battered its way out inflicting damage and managed to make port at Dieppe.
The French ship Le Rubis, a new ship in the French Royal Navy with sixty guns which had become detached in the poor weather, sighted Allin's fleet thinking it was the Franco-Dutch fleet. The French captain Gilles de La Roche Saint-André realised his mistake too late; he attempted to fight but outnumbered he stuck his colours and surrendered. The rest of the French and Dutch retreated to safety.
Gilles de La Roche Saint-André was treated honourably by his English captors and was immediately released on the order of Charles II while the Duke of York offered him a sword before his repatriation to France. His reputation at the Court of France was such that he was appointed Chef d'escadre in the French Royal Navy in 1667. Louis however was disenchanted with the Duc de Beaufort for his failure to unite with the Dutch fleet.
- Calendar of State Papers: Of the Reign of Charles II. Domestic series, Volume 6. Burlington, Ont.: TannerRitchie. 2010 . p. 147. ISBN 9781441685797.
- Harding, Edward (1805). Naval Biography; Or, The History and Lives of Distinguished Characters in the British Navy: From the Earliest Period of History to the Present Time, Volume 1. London: John Scott. p. 462. OCLC 656751426.
- M., Rodger, N. A. (2004). The command of the ocean : a naval history of Britain 1649–1815. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 0713994118. OCLC 59182534.
- Jones p. 173
- Clowes p. 286
- Burke (1938). Genealogical and Heraldic History. London: Burke's Peerage. p. 419. OCLC 1777447.
- Colledge (2011). Ships of the Royal Navy. Havertown: Casemate. p. 301.
- William Laird, Clowes; Clements Robert, Markham (1996). The Royal Navy: A History from the Earliest Times to the Present, Volume 2 (reprint ed.). London: Chatham. ISBN 9781861760111.
- Jones, J.R (2013). The Anglo-Dutch Wars of the Seventeenth Century Modern Wars In Perspective. Routledge. ISBN 9781317899488.