Returning to the Essex coastline to bring you the news from the fleets... whether you align with the Dutch, English or French... here it comes.
|The most dramatic moment of the battle seen from the north.|
Many vessels, feeling they had the advantage of opponents in gunnery duels, attempted to back sail and hold position to secure victory. The Ruby, surrounded and taking heavy fire, was shot to pieces and the smouldering hulk was abandoned. Baillie was never found. Vrede claimed the victory.
|The first English ship to be lost - Ruby was shot to pieces at close range and quickly sunk.|
De Ruyter and Philips were locked in mortal combat which caused the rearmost Dutch ships - Edam and Haas to collide as the head of their squadron held battle position. In her moment of victory, Vrede fell under the guns of the powerful Royal Katherine the broadside of which ripped along the Dutchman's waterline tearing a large hole and causing her to list heavily to starboard. Gouden Appel bumped the small English fireship Rose causing some damage to both but each sailed on as the Dutch vessel was moving with the wind, on fire and without her crew.
|London's magazine explodes in the last moments of Turn 5. She is hidden behind the explosion. Monmouth in foreground.|
Lambert's massive flagship finally entered the battle with a thumping broadside which set Beschermer alight although this was nothing compared to the momentous event further west. De Ruyter's ship pounded London from close range and the volume of shot ignited her magazine. The ensuing explosion ripped the giant English ship apart causing 11 points of damage and killing or
wounding almost everyone on board. This so stunned the division which was far away from Spragge's flagship, that the remaining ships broke off and started to change course for the coast.
|End of Turn 5. Looking from south east.|
The wind changed to a north westerly and Spragge gained the initiative despite the loss of his heaviest ship. His own flagship, involved in a confusing and congested close quarter combat ploughed through a heavy bank of smoke and struck the wounded Vrede. Edam, already shunted astern by Haas was involved in another collision, this time with the Agatha.
|End of the London - De Zeven Provincien has just taken off her wounded admiral and a few survivors.|
The stricken London drifted across the bow of De Zeven Provincien and as the two battleships crashed together De Ruyter's marines stormed through the carnage of London's upper deck, captured the wounded Philip's and claimed her before quickly having to leap back aboard their own vessel as the English ship went down by the stern.
|The hard fighting Monmouth is hit from two directions by fireships.|
To compound the misery, two fireships struck the wounded Monmouth from larboard and stern setting her on fire. The only ray of light for this division was the progress of Royal Katherine, which even with many guns out of action, continued to give good account of herself and appeared to have broken free into open water with a chance of making port.
|End of T6 intense action across the entire battle. Looking from south east.|
Beschermer, isolated from her sister ships and easterly of the main action was surrounded and shot through by Foudroyant, Dartmouth and the massive Royal Therese. Her crew quickly abandoned her as she begin to submerge.Turn 7
Van Nes's division had lost all cohesion and its vessels were dispersed as they locked against enemy ships in individual combat. The flagship Utrecht had been unable to fully reload due to a variety of navigational problems diverting gun crews from their duties.
|Shredding Vrede! St Andrew tears the 4th rate apart at point blank range|
The combined strength of Spragge's well handled ships and the untouched French had overpowered the Dutch division which was fighting to extricate itself from destruction. The St Andrew continued its formidable crusade by completely de-masting the already damaged Vrede now drifting lifeless and smouldering.
Monmouth's crew were able to get their fire under control and having achieved that the ship was immediately rammed by De Zeven Provincien. The Monmouth had indeed had a hard war. Royal Katherine, the other operational ship in Philips' squadron accidentally rammed Agatha which was in even poorer shape than Monmouth. The weary crews on battered ships were running out of steam and the day was to be decided further east.
|End of T7. Collisions abound. Looking from south east.|
The wind direction changed once more blowing westerly and directly off the English coast into the battle area. Van Nes, despite all of his problems spied some of the English vessels turning for home and pushed the Utrecht toward the channel to block their path. Alas, his squadron could not follow as the listing Vrede was finished off by the Phoenix. Wapen van Londen fired and rammed St Andrew but Spragge's veteran were able to make short work of the little Dutch vessel.
|Swatting flies - St Andrew brushes aside the fire run.|
Monmouth continued to receive the attentions of both Haas and De Zeven Provincien but stayed afloat and fighting. The stately Royal Kate cruised by Edam and sunk the 5th rate with a ripping broadside.
|End of the battle T8. RAG system used to indicate final status of each vessel noted. Looking from north east.|
With losses mounting and his mission a failure, De Ruyter signalled the remaining ships to 'break off' and head for home.
|Victors! The English fleet sails for the Thames - Monmouth is towed inshore and yachts come out to celebrate. |
|Past the floating wreck of Ruby, De Ruyter sails for Texel - the mission was a failure.|
The English had triumphed, with a little help from King Louis' men o' war!
I have decided to write a fourth part to this foulness, I mean Foulness. It deals with the outcome, rules mods and game play refinements.