The burning of HMS 'Royal James' at the Battle of Solebay, 28 May 1672
The Battle of Solebay was the opening battle of the Third Anglo-Dutch War, 1672-1674. On the evening before, Admiral Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, urged the Duke of York to take the fleet to sea to avoid the risk of being surprised by the Dutch while at anchor on a lee shore in Solebay (Southwold Bay, Suffolk) on the English east coast. The advice was not taken and the Dutch fleet, commanded by Lieutenant-Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, did appear and attacked Sandwich's unsupported squadron in the bay. Sandwich, in the 'Royal James', 100 guns, was heavily engaged with the squadron of Admiral Van Ghent, who sent in two fireships. The 'Royal James' sank them both but a third fireship, commanded by Jan van de Rijn, grappled the English flagship and set her ablaze. When she was engulfed by the flames Sandwich tried to escape by boat, but it was swamped by people who jumped into her with him and he was drowned.
Willem van de Velde, the Younger
- Image reference: BHC0302
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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