Chris Scott Wilson Writer
sizes, British losses valued at some £1 million.
The governor of Newfoundland, Post Captain Thomas Graves, had protected a convoy of British fishing vessels back to Europe the preceding autumn (1761) and during his return Atlantic crossing in June 1762 intelligence reached him of the French invasion. When he made landfall, he learned St John’s had already been taken, so instead he diverted to Placentia, sailing through “an iceberg-strewn sea”, then set his men to repairing fortifications.
Lord Colville in Halifax was informed on 3rd July by Charles Douglas commanding the 24 gun Syren. He petitioned the Nova Scotia authorities for troops while he readied his flagship HMS Northumberland for sea. Colville’s request proved fruitless but along with the 40 gun HMS Gosport he set sail for Newfoundland on 10th August.
Meanwhile, on 15th July Major-General Jeffrey Amherst, the British C-in-C of the British army in America had learned of the attacks and directed his brother Lt-Colonel William Amherst to take 1500 troops from the garrisons of New York, Halifax, and Louisbourg in seven ships to attack the French.
At Placentia Colville was joined by Captain Douglas’s Syren and along with Governor Graves and his HMS Antelope of 50 guns they sailed for St John’s. Colville then set up a blockade to prevent any sea traffic, outbound or inbound, specifically reinforce-ments or supplies reaching the French already ashore, while they awaited Amherst in King George and his troop transports which had left Louisbourg on 7th September.
The French commander in St John’s, D’Arsac de Ternay, had thought he would have a free hand in Newfoundland, shielded by the winter until the following year’s thaw, and was startled when the British fleet had arrived so quickly and obviously meant business. Realising they were assembling a considerable force which would likely outnumber and overrun his garrison, he made provisional plans for evacuation. When the British troops landed on 13th September at Torbay his French grenadiers and fusiliers put up a fierce resistance but were forced to
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