First battle of Cape Finisterre (1747)

First battle of Cape Finisterre (1747)

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The First Battle of Cape Finisterre (14 May 1747) saw 14 British
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 ships of the line under Admiral George Anson
George Anson, 1st Baron Anson
Admiral of the Fleet George Anson, 1st Baron Anson PC, FRS, RN was a British admiral and a wealthy aristocrat, noted for his circumnavigation of the globe and his role overseeing the Royal Navy during the Seven Years' War...

 attack a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 30-ship convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

 commanded by Admiral de la Jonquière
Jacques-Pierre de Taffanel de la Jonquière, Marquis de la Jonquière
Jacques-Pierre de Taffanel de la Jonquière was a French admiral and Governor General of New France from March 1, 1746 until his death in 1752.De la Jonquière was born near Albi...

 during the War of the Austrian Succession
War of the Austrian Succession
The War of the Austrian Succession  – including King George's War in North America, the Anglo-Spanish War of Jenkins' Ear, and two of the three Silesian wars – involved most of the powers of Europe over the question of Maria Theresa's succession to the realms of the House of Habsburg.The...

. The British captured 4 ships of the line, 2 frigate
Frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

s and 7 merchantmen, in a five-hour battle in the Bay of Biscay
Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

 off Cape Finisterre
Cape Finisterre
right|thumb|300px|Position of Cape Finisterre on the [[Iberian Peninsula]]Cape Finisterre is a rock-bound peninsula on the west coast of Galicia, Spain....

 in northwest Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. One French frigate, one French East India Company
French East India Company
The French East India Company was a commercial enterprise, founded in 1664 to compete with the British and Dutch East India companies in colonial India....

 warship and the other merchantmen escaped.

Prelude


France needed to keep shipping lanes open in order to maintain her overseas empire. To this end she assembled merchantmen into convoys protected by warships. Anson on the Prince George and Rear-Admiral Sir Peter Warren
Peter Warren (admiral)
Sir Peter Warren, KB was a British naval officer from Ireland who commanded the naval forces in the attack on the French fortress of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia in 1745...

 on the Devonshire
HMS Devonshire (1745)
HMS Devonshire was a 66-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built to the dimensions laid out in the 1741 proposals of the 1719 Establishment at Woolwich Dockyard, and launched on 19 July 1745....

 had sailed from Plymouth on 9 April to intercept French shipping. When a large convoy was sighted Anson had made the signal to form line of battle. When Rear-Admiral Warren, suspecting the enemy to be merely manoeuvring to promote the escape of the convoy, bore down and communicated his opinion to the admiral, the latter threw out a signal for a general chase.

Battle


The Centurion
HMS Centurion (1732)
HMS Centurion was a 60-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built at Portsmouth Dockyard and launched on 6 January 1732. At the time of Centurion's construction, the 1719 Establishment dictated the dimensions of almost every ship being built...

  under a press of sail, was the first to come up with the rearmost French ship, which she attacked heavily and two other ships dropped astern to her support. The action became general when three more British ships, including the Devonshire, came up,. The French, though much inferior in numbers, fought till seven in the evening, when all but two of their ships were taken, as well as nine East India merchantmen. The French lost 700 men killed and wounded, and the British 520. Over £300,000 was found on board the ships of war, which were turned into British ships.

Aftermath


Following his victory, Anson was promoted to Vice Admiral and raised to the peerage. The French assembled another, much bigger, convoy which set sail in October; Hawke's defeat of this fleet in the Second Battle of Cape Finisterre
Second battle of Cape Finisterre (1747)
The Second Battle of Cape Finisterre was a naval battle which took place on 25 October 1747 during the War of the Austrian Succession...

 put an end to French naval operations for the rest of the war. François de Grasse
François Joseph Paul de Grasse
Lieutenant Général des Armées Navales François-Joseph Paul, marquis de Grasse Tilly, comte de Grasse was a French admiral. He is best known for his command of the French fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake, which led directly to the British surrender at Yorktown...

 later the famous Comte was wounded and taken prisoner as he served on Le Gloire which was captured.

Britain (George Anson)

  • Prince George 90 (flag
    Flagship
    A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

    )
  • Devonshire
    HMS Devonshire (1745)
    HMS Devonshire was a 66-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built to the dimensions laid out in the 1741 proposals of the 1719 Establishment at Woolwich Dockyard, and launched on 19 July 1745....

     66
  • Namur 74 (originally 90)
  • Monmouth
    HMS Monmouth (1667)
    HMS Monmouth was a 66-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, and was the second ship to be named for the town of Monmouth in Wales. She served from 1667 to 1767, winning ten battle honours over a century of active service...

     64
  • Prince Frederick 64
  • Yarmouth
    HMS Yarmouth (1745)
    HMS Yarmouth was a 64-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built at Deptford Dockyard. She was previously ordered to the dimensions specified in the 1741 proposals for modifications to the 1719 Establishment, but the Admiralty had very quickly concluded that these were too small, and...

     64
  • Princess Louisa
    HMS Princess Louisa (1744)
    HMS Princess Louisa was a 58-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built to the dimensions prescribed in the 1741 proposals of the 1719 Establishment at Limehouse, and launched on 1 July 1744....

     60
  • Nottingham 60
  • Defiance
    HMS Defiance (1744)
    HMS Defiance was a 58-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built to the dimensions laid out in the 1741 proposals of the 1719 Establishment at Deptford, and launched on 12 October 1744....

     60
  • Pembroke
    HMS Pembroke (1733)
    HMS Pembroke was a 60-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built to the dimensions of the 1719 Establishment at Woolwich Dockyard, and launched on 27 November 1733....

     60
  • Windsor 60
  • Centurion
    HMS Centurion (1732)
    HMS Centurion was a 60-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built at Portsmouth Dockyard and launched on 6 January 1732. At the time of Centurion's construction, the 1719 Establishment dictated the dimensions of almost every ship being built...

     50
  • Falkland 50
  • Bristol 50
  • Ambuscade 40 (ex French Embuscade)
  • Falcon 10 (sloop
    Sloop
    A sloop is a sail boat with a fore-and-aft rig and a single mast farther forward than the mast of a cutter....

    )
  • Vulcan 8 (fireship)

France (de la Jonquière)

  • Sérieux 64 (flag) — captured
  • Invincible
    HMS Invincible (1747)
    The Invincible was a 74-gun French ship of the line, later a third-rate of the Royal Navy.During the early part of the 18th century British ship designers had made few significant advances in design, whereas French shipbuilding benefited from a remarkably creative period. At the time of the capture...

     74 — captured
  • Rubis 52 — captured
  • Jason 50 — captured
  • Gloire 40 — captured
  • Emeraude 40 — escaped
  • Chimère 36 — escaped
  • Diamant 30/56 — captured, sunk later
  • Apollon 30 — captured
  • Philibert 30 — captured
  • Thétis 22 — captured
  • Vigilant 20 — captured
  • Modeste 18 — captured
  • Dartmouth 18 (ex-British privateer
    Privateer
    A privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime. Privateering was a way of mobilizing armed ships and sailors without having to spend public money or commit naval officers...

    ) — captured
  • Convoy of 24 ships or fewer — 6 captured