|The action begins with John Harman's lead ships engaging van Nes's vanguard|
Whilst I am still smarting from the total drubbing I received at the hands of Admiral Colin, I thought it might be useful to get down on e-paper what actually happened.
The setting was 1666 - a big year for fires. We are in The North Sea, off the Suffolk coast and Prince Rupert with a clutch of admirals meets Michiel de Ruyter (with a Dutch clutch).The Dutch have the weather gauge and outgun their opponents by 1,220 to 1,064. Both sides have fireships attached to their squadrons.
|The English Fleet|
De Ruyter attempted to cram on canvas, get ahead of the English and swoop down from windward. As a delaying measure Aert van Nes turned his van squadron to attack Ayscue's White. The battle commenced with John Harman's leading ships hitting the leading Dutch ships amongst them the 64-gun Groot Hollandia and the 50s Zuiderhuis and Gouden Leeuwen. Ayscue's ships thundered at the rearward group from van Nes's division causing enough damage to force Wapen van Nassau, Jozua and Harderwijk to turn tail and head for home in a shameful show.
|Eendraght leads the charge which fails to check the White Squadron|
Harman ploughed on into the mass of Dutch ships taking fire from both bow and starboard side which wrought huge damage amongst his command. An attempt by Groot Hollandia and three other ships to attack Harman resulted in the Dutch threading through the English only to receive raking broadsides from their larboard guns on the other side.
A fireship attack by Rupert's two small vessels was repulsed by Groot Hollandia but when the wind direction changed the burning hulks blew back into the Dutch ships and started a blaze aboard several.
|A well executed fireship attack but the Dutch fight it off.|
The Duth formation was riven and disrupted. Several collisions occurred including Johan de Liefde's Ridderschap van Holland and van Nes's Eendraght.
De Ruyter attempted to regain the initiative by ordering Jan Janszoon van Nes's Delft with Amsterdam and Duivenvoorde to attack Thomas Teddiman's Blue squadron luffing up to the battle.
|John Harman's aggressive approach led by the 80-gun Henry|
Teddiman's ships held the initial Dutch thrust and countered with blistering aggression which overwhelmed van Nes. He was captured after being wounded together with his flagship Delft. The other ships were battered and burned. Rupert's leading ships now smashed into the limping, burning ships from van Nes's vanguard all of which were already degraded and ablaze.
|The most intense action as Harman is surrounded by large and powerful Dutch ships|
The Fighting White remained unsubdued and although Harman's three ships Henry, Rainbow and Anne were by this time barely functioning, the admiral managed to get them clear and heading for home covered by his superior Ayscue in the powerful Royal Prince. Having lost 10 ships, de Ruyter with horror now watched Vrede, Gorinchem and the 60-gun Wapen van Utrecht lose heart and break off having been flanked by the irrepressible Ayscue.
|Drifting English fireships ignite Groot Hollandia's group.|
The battle was comprehensively lost and de Ruyter had no option than to break off with his fellow veterans - Aert van Nes and Johan de Liefde.
This battle was remarkable from the perspective of the lopsided nature of the damage sustained by the Dutch relative to their English opponents.
Who says Anglo-Dutch War battles cannot be dramatic! Go Colin and well played Sir!