Expedition to Ostend

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The British expedition to Ostend on 18 May 1798 was launched to destroy gun-boats harboured in Ostend and destined to take part in the planned invasion of Britain, and to destroy the infrastructure of the port including the locks, basin-gates, and sluices of the Bruges–Ostend Canal. It was a combined Royal Navy and British Army expedition under the command of Captain Home Popham (R.N.) and Major-General Eyre Coote. The British destroyed their objectives, but the army contingent was captured by the French.


As Coote held the Dover army command, he was appointed to command the troops employed in the expedition, which Sir Home Popham had planned to cut the sluices at Ostend and thus flood that part of the Netherlands which was then in the possession of the French. The troops were only 1,300 in number. The Navy successfully disembarked them and they succeed in cutting the sluices as proposed on 18 May.[1] They also destroyed the lock-gates of the Bruges–Ostend Canal, which made canal navigation between Holland, Flanders, and France impossible.[2] This meant that any movement of barges had to be by sea, leaving them vulnerable to attack by the Royal Navy.

A high wind off the land then sprang up, and the ships could not come in to take the troops off. French troops were hurried up, and the small English force was completely hemmed in. After a desperate resistance, in which he lost six officers and 109 men killed and wounded, Coote, who was himself severely wounded, was forced to surrender (although he was shortly back in command at Dover after a prisoner exchange).[1]


  1. ^ a b Stephen 1887, p. 161.
  2. ^ Field of Mars 1801, p. 253.


  • Field of Mars: Being an Alphabetical Digestion of the Principal Naval and Military Engagements, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, Particularly of Great Britain and Her Allies, from the Ninth Century to the Present Period... 2. G and J Robinson. 1801. p. 353357.

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