Britain spent much of the 18th century in intermittant warfare with France, its neighbour and chief rival for maritime world domination. Much of this warfare was presided over by King George II who was the last monarch to personally lead a British army into battle – against the French at Dettingen in his native Germany. The King ordered this official inquiry into the total failure of an expedition mounted against the French Atlantic coast in August 1757. The inquiry found that a combination of adverse weather; massive Atlantic waves, strong fixed French defensive positions around the ports of Rochefort and La Rochelle a lack of surprise and consequent enemy readiness to meet the raid had all contributed to its failure. This concise but exhaustive account of the hearings by the three aristocratic officers appointed by the King to report into the failed raid, accompanied by appendices of correspondence between Army and Naval commanders give a vivid picture of 18th century command and control, and also of natural hazards and man-made cock-ups that are a feature of warfare in any age.
REPORT OF THE GENERAL OFFICERS, Appointed By His Majesty’s Warrant of the First of November 1757, to inquire into the causes of the Failure of the late Expedition to the Coast of France
Official report on the failure of the British expedition to raid the French Atlantic coast in August 1757