Saturday 30 December 2023

JJ's Wargames Year End Review, 2023 and The Plan for the New Year Ahead, 2024

The last twenty months have been a bit of a rollercoaster in terms of life experiences, that includes my hobby time, but that has seen the normal routine of producing JJ's Wargames joining in with everything else and having to adapt to the demands of only so many hours present in a day, that is allowing the occasional break to sleep.

Thus producing my normal review of the previous twelve months in the hobby together with a look at how I did against what I had planned and more importantly what would be the direction of travel for the next year ahead seems to be a bit of a moving feast given that my last blog review was back in 2021 in the wake of Covid and our coming out of lockdown.

JJ's Wargames Year End Review, 2021 and The Plan for the New Year Ahead, 2022

This I think rather impresses upon me why I have a habit of working to a normal routine that would see me traditionally planning my time in the hobby annually, and reviewing progress against the plan as a great way of getting things done in the time available and not simply floating from one idea to the next and never really feeling that anything started had reached a natural completion, which appeals to the Zen nature in me, of going with the natural flow; and yet here we are after a break in transmission put simply down to the fact that for four months, from the end of October 2021 to mid February 2022, Carolyn and I were living out of suitcases on the other side of the globe, which rather put paid to the 'normal routine!'

So to reassure myself as much as anything, I decided to scan back over the intervening months between this review and my last in an effort to try to get a sense of direction and in so doing finding myself amazed somewhat as to how many experiences had been had in that time and how much progress had been made in project work, suggesting that at least having made a plan was certainly better than having no plan at all.

Books reviewed here on JJ's since my last review.

Starting with the blog itself, content has inevitably changed to incorporate my travels, including themes, with some imposing on the time available more than others, with the All at Sea, Age of Sail collection and gaming taking precedence over others and a return to military and naval reading and book reviews that has had to compete for time with other reading I have indulged in during my leisure time, espicially in planning phases for our big journey.

So I was pleased to have included in my time away and on return home, six titles reviewed from JJ's library that have in the main inspired my All at Sea project work but are nevertheless jolly good reads and I was pleased to have them included in the array of titles reviewed here on JJ's.

I should add that even here my reading time has given way to the titles included from my Audible collection which has allowed me to work whilst absorbing a great book or two, finding myself recently deeply engrossed with the Aubrey & Maturin collection from Patrick O'Brian, that is a perfect addition to time at the painting desk.

Other areas of my hobby that were current back in 2021 have given way to the pressures of getting back on track with current major themes, hence my regular Vassal meet-ups with Steve M , and work on my AWI Mohawk collection have had to take a back seat as I focussed on finishing ship collection builds for friends Bob and Jack.

The new year of 2022 got off to a cracking start with me able to run the Battle of Cape Finisterre or Calder's Action at the DWG in February, enabling me to claim having run all the key actions from the 1805 campaign.

Looking back at the review for 2021, I noted that my focus was very much on progressing the work started with the All at Sea collection having run Trafalgar at Warlord Games that year and with the collection added to, with an eye to staging the Battle of Cape St Vincent in time for the 225th anniversary of the battle in 2022.

It was a real pleasure to roll out the massive Spanish fleet in time for the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Cape St Vincent at the DWG in February.

The Battle of Cape St Vincent using Kiss Me Hardy (KMH) was a real treat to bring to the table in terms of the numbers of models involved and I learnt a lot about how to and how not to fight this big battle and is a theme I want to come back to in the future.

Small Ship Scenarios for KMH that included 'Sercey off Sumatra', WOJE action off the Bahamas and the Packet Ship Antelope in action with the French Privateer Schooner Atalanta

As well as big-battle themes, progress was made in developing a collection of and playtesting several smaller single ship and squadron level scenarios and games for KMH in 2022 that saw several of these small actions run at the DWG club meetings and a playtest of a scenario from Chris Stoesen's, War of Jenkin's Ear (WOJE) scenario book for KMH and Sharp Practice, using some suitable Napoleonic stand-in's to recreate his interesting fight off the Bahamas in 1742.

Naval Wargames Society Meeting at Yeovilton where the Penarth boys joined Captain Steve and me to play the Leeward Line Scenario.

My year with KMH in 2022 was topped off nicely at the Naval Wargames Society Meeting at Yeovilton where the Penarth boys joined Captain Steve and me to play the Leeward Line Scenario recreating Collingwood's attack at Trafalgar, a collaboration that was to lead on to bigger things in 2023 on my return from travels.

Bob's French third rates of renown completed before going on my travels

Jack's Spanish collection completed in 2023

As well as adding model ships to my own collection I was really pleased to be able to start to build two collections for friends in the club, Bob and Jack, that would be started in 2022 and completed on my return from travels in 2023, and now both the chaps have significant core collections for the British, French and Spanish fleets.

Perry's AWI Continentals successfully converted into my first large batch of Tryon County Militia.

As regards other activities in 2022 prior to leaving in October for Vancouver, the AWI Mohawk collection ended for now on a bit of a hurrah as well as a proof of concept build that saw my Perry's AWI Continentals successfully converted into my first large batch of Tryon County Militia presenting a firm foundation for continuation of this theme at a later date.

A really fun game of Vauban's Wars played at Chez JJ's with Chas and Vince back in February 2022.

In February 2022 I got to try out a long anticipated playthrough of Vauban's Wars, which are a brilliantly unique set of rules designed to allow the playing through of sieges, something that played a large part of many horse and musket campaigns, none less so than the Peninsular War which has figured large here on JJ's.

Highlights from some of the shows attended in 2022

In addition to the wargaming and modelling I attended some great shows in 2022, that saw a big boys beano to Partizan in May and a trip to Colours in September amongst others.

In March Carolyn and I travelled up to Yorkshire for a short break and I got to see the last remaining Leda Class Napoleonic British frigate, HMS Trincomalee at Hartlepool which was a very special trip.

Alongside the wargaming shows, there were some excellent trips to various military history venues, that started with my visit to HMS Trincomalee in the March but would include later that year the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, the Wars of the Roses battlefield of Blore Heath, the RAF Cosford Aircraft Collection, the Soldier of Shropshire Military Museum and a May time expedition to enjoy the delights of Rome.

Trips and excursions in 2022 include the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, the Wars of the Roses battlefield of Blore Heath, the RAF Cosford Aircraft Collection, the Soldier of Shropshire Military Museum and a May time expedition to enjoy the delights of Rome.

Then, as if all of a sudden, Carolyn and I found ourselves on a plane from London Gatwick bound for Vancouver and 2022 changed dramatically and without precedence as we began our four month odyssey.

RAM tanks in Vancouver, battleships in Hawaii, carronades, Maori Warriors and First World War fighters in New Zealand, all easily combined with a bit of R&R in Fiji or Mount Cook and the Remarkables.

The posts for this trip, suitably entitled 'JJ's on Tour' are still ongoing, illustrating the amazing experiences we enjoyed in our time away, and I hope showing how the hobby of historical wargaming is able to grab inspiration and find incorporation to activities no matter where in the world you may find yourself, be that looking at RAM tanks in Vancouver, battleships in Hawaii, carronades, Maori Warriors and First World War fighters in New Zealand, all easily combined with a bit of R&R in Fiji or Mount Cook and the Remarkables.

New Zealand, especially, will always hold a very special place in our memories down.

New Zealand especially will always hold a very special place in our memories down under and I should especially thank the guys from the Christchurch Wargaming Club, and in particular Mark Paul and Ion who very kindly invited me to join them for some Napoleonic action at the club during our time in town and where we later spent a delightful Christmas on our return, prior to heading off to Australia - thanks chaps and I hope you might be able to come to Exeter on a reciprocal invitation.

A wargaming break from all the tourist stuff provided by the chaps, Mark, Paul and Ion from the Christchurch Wargaming Club. It was so nice to simply roll bones and talk wargaming after two months on the road.

On our return to dear old Blighty in February, a new year was already well under way and the All at Sea collection reasserted itself as a primary task with work immediately recommenced on Bob and Jack's collections, with me re-learning skills with the paintbrush and rigging thread to get back up to speed.

I was really keen to work on Warlord's new models once Bob and Jack's collections were finished.

As well as this there were games quickly organised at club to resume work on the small ship scenarios and the excitement of getting to work on the new models released by Warlord just before I left and something I was really keen to work on once Bob and Jack's models were finished.

The All at Sea project work recommenced on my return with new models added to the collection that included the new Warlord Fourth-Rate and Razees, whilst additional Small-Ship/Squadron scenarios were play tested at club that saw the Chase of the Alexander and the Battle of Cape Ortegal recreated at club.

As mentioned, Captain Steve and my meeting up with the Penarth Chaps at Yeovilton led on to further plans that saw us decide to get chaps from both the DWG and Penarth together in the summer to play a weekend game of Trafalgar using Kiss Me Hardy which saw me preparing a couple more new models from Warlord to add to the Trafalgar collection to new named models, the Spanish Santa Anna and the British 64-gun Agamemnon in preparation.

A small bit of preparation work saw these two important named additions to the Trafalgar collection

This activity would culminate in a bit of a highlight for 2023 when in July both clubs got together to stage this big battle over two days providing a fantastic game full of drama and narrative played for the sheer fun of enjoying a big game.

I and the Devon chaps had a fantastic weekend in Wales and the Penarth boys made us all very welcome and together created a game that will live long in the memory and with plans to set up similar get togethers going forward.

Bantry Bay 1796 - Naval Wargames Society Meeting at Yeovilton 2023 

Another aspect of my naval wargaming activities has been a growing association with the chaps at the Naval Wargames Society and I was eager to pick up where we left off in 2022 by preparing a new game to present at Yeovilton in October which led to the preparing of the Bantry Bay 1796 game and some work on my first pieces of coastal terrain as this fictional action was deemed to have been fought in the entry to Bear Haven anchorage selected by the French invasion force to start their landing.

As planned in 2021/22, the Battle of Camperdown project is underway for completion in 2024 and the first test game.

Finally, and as alluded to in my plans presented in the 2021/22 review, my intention to build the fleets for the Battle of Camperdown was started this autumn and good progress with the project build has seen the completion of the Dutch rear division and the British leeward division with work to complete the Dutch centre to start in January 2024.

As regards other activities in 2023, the New Year began in Melbourne, Australia with trips to the MCG to watch Australia play their test match against South Africa, swiftly followed by our acclimatisation to all things Australian, which has lead to my ongoing series of posts set to conclude when we arrive in Darwin in February 2023 prior to departing for Singapore and home. 

Trips to the Roman town of Silchester in May and another beano north to attend Partizan and a visit to the National Civil War Centre in Newark.

On arriving home, the activities calendar picked up as quickly as the wargaming one with trips to the Roman town of Silchester in May and another beano north to attend Partizan and a visit to the National Civil War Centre in Newark.

Later in the year Mr Steve and I travelled up to the Cotswolds and Oxford to spend a couple of days visiting interesting historical sites and battlefields from the English Civil War, Wars of the Roses and the Usurpation of Richard II by Henry Bolingbroke.

Whilst in Oxford we made the pilgrimage to the grave site of the greatest author of the 20th century, the late great J.R.R. Tolkien and his wife Edith, in grateful appreciation for his lifetimes work on books such as the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and others brought to publication by his son Christopher, and got to soak up the ambience of one of his favourite pubs in Oxford with a drink at the Lamb & Flag, where we able to toast the great man more appropriately.

Later in November, my wargaming year was nicely concluded with a trip up to Farnborough in the company of Steve M where we met up with Glyn, Andy, Andy T. from Penarth and Simon from the NWS at the Wargames Association of Reading's show Warfare.

That said my wargaming year and the one that preceded it would not be complete without reference to my friends at the Devon Wargames Group which has and continues to play a big role in my wargaming calendar and where I get to test a lot of my own projects on the patient and unsuspecting members that make it the great place to go and play wargames.

The Devon Wargames Group at its best, coming together to play one big game at our annual Gus Murchie Memorial meeting in December, that traditionally signs off another club year.

The club membership has continued to grow in the time covered by this review and presents the club with a nice problem to have, namely how to provide enough games for a growing membership, and maintain the club spirit of inclusion and friendly fellowship that is the essence of our great hobby; with the club displaying all those attributes this month with our annual Gus Murchie Memorial Game that brings the club together to play one big game in the festive spirit.

It has been my honour and privilege to act as Chairman for the club since its forming back in 1981, now in its forty-second year, and I'm looking forward to starting another full year of club events in 2024.

So that concludes my review of the key activities that have contributed so much content to JJ's Wargames and progressed my projects in the hobby, which I'm pleased to say pretty well corresponds with my plans laid out in 2021 to focus my activities around the All at Sea, Age of Sail collections with the Cape St Vincent anniversary game ticked off and the Camperdown project well underway incorporating the new models from Warlord Games.

I also proved myself correct in the assumption that other projects such as the AWI and Romano-Dacians would likely go on hold as soon as our travel arrangements were confirmed and smile at the hope expressed in that post about commencing my Wars of the Roses project and thoughts of getting into the English Civil War.

So where does JJ's Wargames go from here, now with the blog having passed its tenth anniversary and approaching two million views and six thousand comments, and my hopes to entertain my readers with content they might find interesting, but certainly with content that I find interesting.

Well I intend to focus my activities on completing everything I would like to do with the age of sail collection, which will start with the completion of the Camperdown project and a running out of the game in 2024.

Signal Flag lockers being prepared for some new game ideas in 2024 to go along with my big set-piece battle repertoire.

As part of this project, I am working on pulling some games together in the New Year using a Fleet Battle set of rules to try out some new ideas better suited to putting the players of these large set-piece battles more firmly in the role of an Admiral rather than a ships captain, and with more emphasis on command and control at fleet and squadron level and less on individual ship sailing and damage control management.

My Christmas present from Carolyn was the complete collection of William James' Naval History together with some extra models from other family members.

The big games played so far with KMH have demonstrated the need for a somewhat different approach, but I'm keen to maintain the narrative that KMH generates through its chit activation and built in friction that it causes, and I still see KMH doing its magic for my small battles and small ship actions alongside To Covet Glory as I continue to develop my small ship/squadron scenario book, now enhanced by a marvellous Christmas present from my darling wife as seen above.

The Action off Providien,12 April 1782, by Dominic Serres (1722–1793)
A clue to where my next project for the All at Sea collection intends to focus after Camperdown has been completed. 

Needless to say any rules I use will need to be modified to suit my own tastes and plans to invite Jack back over to Chez JJ to help in that process, as he did in our test games some four years ago when the Warlord models first became available, are underway.

The Carnatic coast of India is the setting for my next age of sail collection build.

The other focus for All at Sea are my plans, hopefully this year, will be to branch out into the naval war of the American War of Independence, and a plan to build the contending fleets of French Admiral Pierre Suffren and British Admiral Sir Edward Hughes, which has been moved up the development stage with my work building the Dutch fleet for Camperdown and the feasibility of the modifications to the Dutch fleet equally applicable to the French and British ships serving on the east coast of India in 1781-83.

In addition, it is with some anticipation that I await the publication of the next naval title from Helion Books, set to be published in Spring 2024, which will likely add further inspiration to this project build, with Quintin Barry the author of a previous title I have and reviewed here on JJs, 'Far Distant Ships: The Blockade of Brest 1793-1815'.

I have had a long interest in the Hughes and Suffren campaign with a collection of Langton models rolled out at the Devon Wargames Group over the years to scratch this particular itch, but I think it would have an enhanced look when played in the 1:700th Grand Manner.

Alongside the completion of this collection I have some ideas for a small campaign using the models that will follow the completion of the build project, so lots of interesting stuff to write about on the age of sail front.

A great set of rules for Age of Sail fans, that give a great narrative to the games I play.

I have managed to play a lot of games in four years using Kiss Me, Hardy, a very much underestimated set of rules if some reviews I have read are to go by, not without their faults, but that applies to all rules, but with some very clever mechanics that make for a very intriguing game once they are mastered.

Needless to say and as is my want I have incorporated changes from others and additions of my own, to Nick Skinner's original set that sees us playing a different set of KMH rules than the original, that I feel has added to the granularity without moving away from the wonderfully intuitive game the rules create that allows players to focus on being commanders of ships or squadrons without over indulgence in the minutia of which particular round or rounds to load in the 24-pounders.

I have been asked to post a copy of the JJ's House Rules additions to KMH which are now written into my rewritten set of the rules that incorporates all the stuff that has been garnered from the years of Lardy Specials, and my plan is to publish a PDF of these additions as soon as time permits, more anon.

As well as the All at Sea stuff, the usual mix of content will be a feature of JJ's going into hopefully the next ten years of the blog and I look forward to sharing the adventures with you in 2024, likely starting with a post covering my visit to Oz Armour, better known as the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum just out side Cairns earlier this year.

Until then I will wish everyone a very happy 2024 and may your dice keep on rolling sixes!

As always, more anon,


Sunday 24 December 2023

Happy Christmas 2023 - Peace and Goodwill to All.

Well another year is fast coming to a close and I write this Christmas greeting to all my readers with somewhat mixed feelings, conscious of the time of year when we celebrate hope and goodwill to all, but at a time of a major war in Europe and a bloody conflict yet again in the Middle East.

Last Christmas saw us enjoying the delights of Christchurch, New Zealand with a bit of Christmas Morning Punting on the River Avon.

This blog is avowedly apolitical and very much designed to be a sanctuary for those of us who enjoy the finer qualities of life that are the characteristics of friendly social interaction, artistic endeavour and historical enlightenment bestowed on the serious followers of our hobby, but it is a challenge in these times of conflict to enjoy those delights when one is only too aware of the suffering of others.

I know the relationship with time changes dramatically the older we get, but it is hard to imagine how quickly twelve months has passed when I look at this picture of Carolyn and me enjoying Christmas 2022 in Christchurch NZ.

Personally, I have enjoyed an amazing fourteen months that saw Carolyn and I enjoy four of them, from the end of October 2021 to February this year, exploring the other side of the globe from Vancouver on the Pacific coast of Canada, to Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore that was a life changing experience in so many ways and for the better; this together with my eldest son Tom and his now fiancée Beth, announcing their engagement last Christmas, with plans to marry in summer 2024 and my younger son Will settling into his medical career in Cardiff with a new house and partner, Ollie, and equally much to look forward to in the New Year.

Peggy with her Christmas collar, and ready for fun!

Our lives have been changed irrevocably with Tom and Beth adding to their family with a new Labrador puppy, Peggy, now eighteen months old and the love of my life as Carolyn and I have become once a week doggy day carers.

Big-battle fun this year in Wales with the Trafalgar refight, and plans for similar events going forward.
JJ's Wargames - The Battle of Trafalgar 2023

All this and an absolutely non-stop rollercoaster year in the hobby with much to write about in my End of Year-New Year Blog Review in time for New Year's Eve which will have a look back on key themes here on JJ's and plans for 2024.

Yet more fun on the water in 2023, with the Bantry Bay game at the Naval Wargames Society Meeting at Yeovilton in October.
JJ's Wargames - Naval Wargames Society Weekend 2023 - Fleet Air Arm Museum Yeovilton.

The header for this Christmas Greeting alludes to the current and ongoing main theme which is my deep-dive into the Naval Age of Sail era and the development of the collection of model ships for planned games going forward, and I'm looking forward to having some more and interesting things to write about in that regard here on JJ's in future posts.

But that will have to wait until the festivities are over and I have time to get back to my desk to prepare future posts and so in the meantime, I would like to wish all my readers, contributors and followers of JJ's Wargames, a peaceful and happy Christmas and hoping Santa rewards all good little boys and girls, oh and Labradors.

Happy Christmas


Friday 22 December 2023

All at Sea, Battle of Camperdown - Project Build, Part Five, The Dutch Rear Completed

It was back in September, when this project got started proper, after a few proof of concept builds on a few ships of the Dutch fleet, including the all important fourth-rate model released by Warlord that really enabled this little adventure to start.

Since then the build routine has now settled into one of completing about three models per build which fits in quite nicely with other stuff that I'm working on, more anon, and has meant that as we head on into Xmas and the New Year a good foundation for these opposing fleets has been laid and I can start to progress some new ideas I've had about how I might present this game when it comes to the table.

JJ's Wargames - All at Sea, Battle of Camperdown Project, Part Four, The Leeward Division Completed

The latest additions to the collection sees the last ships of the line to be added to complete the Batavian Dutch Rear Squadron under the command of Rear-Admiral Hermanus Reijntjes, aboard his flagship, the 72-gun Jupiter. 

The Battle of Camperdown for the Dutch rear squadron was pretty well over and done with in about forty-five minutes of close range and point blank cannonade as the eight British ships of the line of the Leeward Division swept into the attack and demolished the four Dutch ships and the 44-gun frigate Monnikendam that got herself involved in the battle.

William James describes the arrangement of the Dutch Rear and the British attack thus;

'At about half past noon Vice-admiral Onslow, whose ship, the Monarch, was leading the larboard division of the British fleet, cut through the Dutch line, formed thus: Beschermer, Gelykheid, Hercules, Devries, Vryheid, States-General, Wassenaer, Batavier, Brutus, Leyden, Mars, Cerberus, Jupiter, Haerlem, Alkmaar, and Delft (with the nine frigates and corvettes stationed as an inner line, for the most part facing the intervals in the outer one), between the Jupiter and Haerlem, pouring into each of those ships, in passing, a well-directed broadside.

Then, leaving the Haerlem to the Powerful, the Monarch luffed up close alongside of the Jupiter; and the two latter of these ships became warmly engaged. The rounding to of the Monarch afforded to the Monnikendam frigate and Atalanta brig, in the rear, the opportunity of pouring some raking broadsides into the former; and the Atalanta, in particular, did not retire until considerably damaged by the Monarch's shot. The remaining ships of the larboard division, more especially the Monmouth and Russel, were soon in action with the Dutch rear-ships; among the last of which to surrender was the first that had been attacked, the Jupiter.'

Three new additions to the collection that complete the Dutch Rear, Cerberus 68-guns, Haarlem 68-guns and Alkmaar 56-guns.

James concludes his description of the battle with a very inciteful description of the Dutch tactics and of the British fleet and the condition of its ships after the fighting had ceased, from which I have drawn the details of the Leeward Division indicating the the losses caused by such damaging tactics;

'The appearance of the British ships at the close of the action was very unlike what it generally is, when the French or Spaniards have been the opponent of the former. Not a single lower mast, not even a topmast was shot away; nor were the rigging and sails of the ships in their usual tattered state. It was at the hulls of their adversaries that the Dutchmen had directed their shot; and this, not until the former were so near, that no aim could well miss. Scarcely a ship in the fleet but had several shot sticking in her sides. Many were pierced by shot in all directions; and a few of the ships had received some dangerous ones between wind and water, which kept their pumps in constant employment. The Ardent had received no fewer than 98 round shot in her hull. 

The Belliqueux, Bedford, Venerable, and Monarch had likewise their share. As to the last-named ship, such was the entire state of her masts, rigging, and sails, that, were the topsail sheets which had been shot away hauled home, no one, viewing her from a little distance, would have believed that she had been in action.

With hulls so shattered, the loss of men could not be other wise than severe. . . . 

the Monarch, two midshipmen (J. P. Tinlay and Moyle Finlay) and 34 seamen killed, one lieutenant (James Retalick), one lieutenant of marines (James J. Smith), four midshipmen (George Massey, Benjamin Clement, Daniel Sherwin, and Charles Slade), one master's mate (John Chimley), two petty-officers, 79 seamen, and 12 marines wounded; . . . 

the Powerful, eight seamen and two marines killed, one lieutenant (Ulick Jennings), one lieutenant of marines (R. G. W. Walker), one midshipman (Daniel Rogers), the boatswain, and 74 seamen and marines wounded; . . . 

the Monmouth, one petty-officer, one seaman, two marines, and one boy killed, 16 seamen, two marines, and four boys wounded; 

the Director, six seamen and one marine wounded; 

the Montague, three seamen killed, one lieutenant (Ralph Sneyd), one midshipman (James Forbishly), two seamen, and one marine wounded; 

the Veteran, one lieutenant (Francis Ferrett), and three seamen killed, and 21 seamen wounded; and 

the Russel, one lieutenant (David Johnson), her master (Thomas Troughton), one master's mate (George Taylor), her boatswain, (John Brooks), two pilots (Thomas Abbott and Thomas Sherrard), and one sergeant of marines wounded:'

The details of these three Dutch ships, the final batch that completes the Dutch rear or white squadron are as follows:


Cerberus was a 68-gun third-rate ship of the line laid down on the 31st August 1782 in the Amsterdam shipyard, launching on the 22nd March 1784, and commissioning that same month.

Her general characteristics were:
Tons burthen ? (bm)
Length of gundeck 155 feet, 1 inch 
Beam 42 feet, 10 inches
Depth of hold 18 feet, 11 inches

Her armament consisted of:
Gundeck: 26 x 24-pounder long guns
Upper gundeck: 26 x 18-pounders long guns
Quarterdeck & Forecastle: 16 x 8-pounder long guns

Named after Cerberus the Greek mythological Hound of Hades that guarded the gates of the Underworld to stop the dead from leaving, Cerberus was under the command of Kapitein ter Zee Jacobson.

The British Leeward Division have just got into action and it seems likely that the Cerberus has already come under fire from Veteran as the British 64 sailed on past the Dutch flagship Jupiter, with it seems Cerberus already commencing a withdrawal from the fight

Observing the movements of the Cerberus it seems she likely quit the line promptly on seeing the collapse of the Dutch rear and may have come under fire from HMS Veteran at about 13.00, with the log of Veteran recording exchanging broadsides and spotting the Hercules on fire;

'About 1 we stood into the enemy's line, firing our broadsides at such ships of the enemy as we could bring them to bear on. At 20 minutes past 1, perceived one of the enemy's ships on fire.'

The minimal involvement of Cerberus seems to be reflected in her casualties suffered, just five killed and nine wounded and reportedly only suffering light damage.

The Cerberus would make good her escape from the battle, but would end up as part of the Batavian Dutch fleet that surrendered to Vice Admiral Sir Keith Mitchell in the Texel on 30th August 1799 during the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland, known as the Helder Expedition.

Surrender of Rear Admiral Story's Texel Squadron on the 30th August 1799, Cerberus being one of eight Dutch ships of the line, and her commander Captain De Jong seen returning in the Dutch admiral's barge following the negotiations with British Vice Admiral Mitchell.


Haarlem was a 68-gun third-rate ship of the line laid down on the 16th July 1783 and launched two years later in 1785 at the Amsterdam shipyard.

Her general characteristics were:
Tons burthen ? (bm)
Length of gundeck 155 feet, 1 inch
Beam 42 feet, 10 inches
Depth of hold 18 feet, 7 inches

Her armament consisted of:
Gundeck: 26 x 24-pounder long guns
Upper gundeck: 26 x 18-pounders long guns
Quarterdeck & Forecastle: 16 x 8-pounder long guns

The Haarlem was under the command of Kapitein ter Zee Wiggers, and like the Jupiter and Cerberus ahead of her in the Dutch line, waited until the approaching British ships were well within effective range before opening fire, with Oslow's flagship HMS Monarch coming under intensive damaging fire from them as she attempted to breach the Dutch line.

The return salute was not long in coming as Captain Edward O'Bryen skilfully navigated the gap between the Jupiter and Haarlem raking both, as the Monarch passed through the line, closely followed by HMS Powerful which raked the Haarlem again before directing a punishing broadside into the Dutch frigate Monnikendam, already badly shot up by the Monarch, whilst attempting to impede the progress of both British ships and being roughly dealt with in response.

Line Drawing of the Dutch 68-gun Haarlem

The Dutch rear soon disintegrated into a confused melee as eight British ships of the line descended on the four Dutch and the frigate Monnikendam, with the Haarlem finding herself now subjected to a close range battering from Captain Bligh's HMS Director, working her way towards the Dutch centre.

Director was soon joined by the 50-gun Adamant in the close range barrage against the Haarlem, now very badly shot up and in a parlous state.

The Dutch rear consisting of the Jupiter, Haarlem, Alkmaar and Delft were quickly overwhelmed and all had struck by 13.45 and the Monnikendam striking soon after to the British frigate Beaulieu.

The state of the Haarlem and her casualty tally showed the battle she had endured with her hull reportedly badly shot up, and her mizzenmast shot away and her losses unrecorded but remarked as 'heavy'.

Her capture would see her taken into the Royal Navy as HMS Haerlem.


The fourth-rate, 56-gun Alkmaar, nominally of fifty guns, was built at the Enkhulzen shipyard and launched in 1782.

Her general characteristics were:
Tons burthen ? (bm)
Length of gundeck 143 feet
Beam 39 feet, 11 inches
Depth of hold 18 feet, 6 inches

Her armament consisted of:
Gundeck: 24 x 18-pounder long guns
Upper gundeck: 24 x 12-pounders long guns
Quarterdeck & Forecastle: 8 x 8-pounder long guns

Kapitien-Liutenant ter Zee, Kraft and his command, the Alkmaar, was in a good position to witness the fate of the Dutch ships ahead of her and the raking attacks made by the Monarch and Powerful against the Jupiter and Haarlem, but soon found herself similarly under attack from the Monmouth that raked her and the Delft astern and then by William Bligh's Director as she passed on the bow to luff up alongside the Haarlem.

The action became so close that the British ships had to take extra care to avoid the risk of firing into one another in high seas, heavy rain and poor visibility.

The Dutch centre and van soon pulled away from the rear most ships as the British attack reached its culmination at just after 14.00 when all of the Dutch rear had struck or, in the case of the Cerberus, were beating a hasty retreat.

Fourth-rate ships like the Alkmaar were long obsolete as being capable to take their place in the line of battle, made only to obvious when locked in close battle with 64 and 74-gun third-rate ships of the line, and despite determined resistance from her and her consort Delft, would be overwhelmed and suffer the second and third highest recorded casualties after the fleet flagship Vrijheid with 156 dead and wounded, the Alkmaar with 88 dead and wounded, and the Delft with 119 that including 43 dead.

Of those 88, 26 were killed and 62 wounded with her hull very badly shot up and dismasted, she would be taken into the Royal Navy as HMS Alkmaar.

The next part of the project build will start in the New Year and see work commence on the Dutch centre, with the three outstanding ships of the line, Wassenaer 64-guns, Batavier 56-guns and Leijden 68-guns, before completing the red squadron with the 44-gun razee, Mars, the two 18-gun brigs Atalante and Galatea and the 24-gun sixth-rate Minerva.

More anon