Sunday, 17 December 2017

17th Century [Hypothetical] Anglo-French v Dutch Naval Clash (Part 2)

The maelstrom erupts as the leading Dutch fire-ship bumps into the leading British "ship of the line" fails to ignite and carries on. The fire-ship crew at this point have already manned the boats and themselves sailed away. The second Dutch fire-ship clatters into the stationary British vessel and starts a fire (which disappointingly they soon manage to put out). Meanwhile the plucky French fire-ship that attacks the Dutch is severely mauled. The Dutch captain deciding to try and sink rather than de-mast the craft, which in hindsight was not the best tactic (see below, note the French Squadron closing in line-abreast): 

The British are in disarray and how the Dutch hoped they would become, effectively "out of the battle". This the odds are suddenly 1-to-1. In addition the first Dutch fire-ship has swooned into the French formation and start chaos afresh. As the French are approaching in line-abreast and the Dutch are moving in line-astern the local superiority switches to 3-to-1 in favour of the Dutch. Something the plucky little French fire-ship is about to find out as the second Dutch man-o-war is about to pass her (see below):   

The British Squadron take wicked vengeance in the second Dutch fire-ship, which is fine by the Dutch Admiral as it allows his Squadron time to form up and attack the French. Cynics would perhaps suggest the British are not adverse to see the Dutch wear themselves out on the French and thus become easy meat for the British. The Dutch maintain the 3-to-1 local superiority. The French fire-ship bumps off the Dutch second in line while the van of the Dutch fleet engages with the only French man-o-war in position to defend the valuable merchantman, which now finds itself perilously close to the action (see below):   

With the wind behind then the avenging (or cautious) British position themselves to attack the Dutch rear. However the French try they are still outgunned in the middle, their second and third ships-of-the-line are still trying to close. Better news is that the third Dutch man-o-war has lost a mast, and thus speed so will be easy prey to the British (when they show up). The bad news is that the van of the Dutch fleet has been given a clear opportunity to run down and capture the prized merchantman. While the French and British warships vie for local tactical positioning their Admirals have taken their eyes off the strategic goal. The Dutch seem to still have the initiative (see below): 

The British battleships zig-zag not wanting to befoul each others lines, losing valuable time. The British fire-ship is hopelessly out of position and won't get into the game. The French savage the rear most Dutch man-o-war whose function now is to sell herself dearly. These Dutch have stout heats and courage. The remaining two Dutch warships are in the process of overhauling the merchantman and preparing boarding parties (see below):

Slowly the British again tack into the action. They have not been helped by the shifting and strengthening winds, These (random) factors have strongly favoured the Dutch as fortune often favours the brave. The French merchantman desperately tacks away but is now withing gun range and the Dutch are sure to target her sails. She has little in way of defence and her protection lay mostly in her escorts so out of position. She is desperate to play for time and somehow rejoin their consort (see below):

Next: The Chase and Scarifice


Ian Robinson said...

Fabulous write up and so observant.

'The French savage the rear most Dutch man-o-war whose function now is to sell herself dearly.'

Is there a naval equivalent of Hill 235? Hipper at Jutland?

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

The double duty danger money was well earned that day!

In fact the Royal Navy pension to the family of the deceased was a major factor in recruitment for "able seaman" and above, the Navy did not break its Concordat with its serviceman

Scheer's order to Hipper's "Death Ride of the Battle Cruisers" at Jutland was actually carried out by his 2nd in Command Hartog of Derfflinger as Lutzow had been battered and Hipper was in process of transferring his flag.

She ref:

"Scheer flew the flag giving the battle cruisers the signal labelled ‘Ran an den feind’ or ‘Charge the Enemy’. The implication was that the battle cruisers must launch themselves at the British line even resorting to ramming British ships.

One German battle cruiser recorded the order she received as ‘Charge the enemy. Ram. Ships denoted are to attack without regard to consequences’.

The German 1st Scouting Group was temporarily under the command of Captain Hartog of SMS Derfflinger as Admiral Hipper was still on the disabled Lützow from which he was arranging a transfer by destroyer to Moltke.

Hartog immediately began what was described as a ‘Death Ride’ for the German battle cruisers towards the British line."

The Glochesters found themselves in it partly because the British Commander told his American C-in-C that it was a "sticky wicket" and the American was completely unfamiliar with the Cricket term and thought it meant everything was in hand and manageable!