Historical Periods

Royal Navy: 1805 Gun Crew

In association with other volunteers at the Royal Armouries Museum located at Fort Nelson, Portsmouth we portray a naval gun crew of HMS Victory of 1805. We regularly put on displays at the museum and have fired the original 12 pounder cannon alongside HMS Victory. Our group has also demonstrated for the public the gun drill on the lower gun deck of HMS Victory.

Gun crew for the 1805 12 pdr cannon
Gun crew for the 1805 12 pdr cannon.


We also portray a naval landing party from HMS Loire, a French frigate captured by the British and put into service. In this role the group has taken part in many overseas events, notably Argentina and Portugal.


Loire was a 44-gun frigate of the French Navy. She was captured following the Battle of Tory Island by a Royal Navy frigate squadron and subsequently taken into British service as HMS Loire.

Capture of the Loire

She took part in the Expédition d'Irlande, and in the Battle of Tory Island, where she battled Kangaroo, Robust, and Anson . After the battle, Loire and Sémillante escaped into Black Cod Bay, where they hoped to hide until they had a clear passage back to France. However, late on 15 October, a British frigate squadron under James Newman Newman rounded the southern headland of the bay, forcing the French ships to flee to the North.

Pressing on sail in pursuit, Newman ordered Révolutionaire to focus on Sémillante whilst he pursued Loire in Mermaid, accompanied by the brig Kangaroo under Commander Edward Brace. Loire and Sémillante separated to divide their pursuers; Mermaid and Kangaroo lost track of Loire in the early evening, and Sémillante evaded Révolutionaire after dark. Mermaid and Kangaroo eventually found Loire on 17 October, but after an inconclusive fight that left the British unable to pursue, Loire broke off the engagement and escaped. The next day Loire again engaged Kangaroo and Anson, and was forced to strike after she ran out of ammunition. Out of the 664 men, including three artillery regiments and their Etat-Major, carried on board Loire, 48 were killed and 75 wounded.

She was also found to be carrying a large store of clothing, weapons, ammunition and tools for her troops' intended operations. Anson had two men killed and 13 wounded, while the Kangaroo appears to have suffered no casualties.

Recruiting party alongside HMS Victory
Recruiting party alongside HMS Victory.

British Service

HMS Loire was commissioned by Captain Frederick Lewis Maitland at Portsmouth in October 1802.

On 27 June 1803 the Loire's boats captured the French navy brig Venteux while she was anchored close to shore batteries on the Île de Batz. Venteux had a crew of 82 men under the command of lieutenant de vaisseau Gilles-François Montfort and was armed with four 18-pounder guns and six 36-pounder brass carronades. The Loire lost her boatswain and five men badly wounded; the French lost their second captain and two men killed, and all five remaining officers, including Montfort, wounded, as well as eight other men wounded. In 1847 the Admiralty recognized the action with the clasp "27 June Boat Service 1803" to the Naval General Service Medal, awarded to all surviving claimants from the action. The Royal Navy brought Venteux into service as Eagle, and next year renamed her HMS Eclipse.

On 17 March 1804 Loire captured what proved to be the French privateer Braave, of 14 guns and 110 men.

On 16 August 1804 Loire gave chase to a suspicious-looking sail. After a chase of 20 hours, including a running fight of a quarter of an hour, during which the British had one midshipman and five men wounded, and the French lost two men killed and five wounded, the latter hauled down her colours. She proved to be French privateer Blonde, of Bordeaux, mounting 30 guns, eight-pounders on the main deck, with a crew of 240 men; the same ship that, about five months earlier, had captured the Wolverine. Loire took the prize in tow to Plymouth where the prisoners were disembarked on 31 August.

On 2 June 1805 boats from Loire captured the Spanish privateer felucca Esperanza alias San Pedro in the Bay of Camarinas, east of Cape Finisterre.

On 4 June 1805 Loire made an attack on Muros. Two French privateer vessels were discovered lying in the bay, including the Confiance pierced for 26 guns, twelve- and nine-pounders, although not having them on board. A landing party of 50 men from Loire under first lieutenant James Lucas Yeo stormed the town's fort (which was firing its 12 eighteen-pounder guns on the ship), slaying the governor and many of the defenders (including some of the French crews) and forcing the remainder to surrender. Yeo hoisted the British colours, spiked the guns and rendered the carriages unserviceable. Loire had six men slightly wounded in the shore party (including Yeo), with a further nine injured on the ship, one dangerously. The Confiance was taken possession of and subsequently brought into service under Yeo's command. The second vessel, the Belier brig pierced for 20 eighteen-pounder carronades was deemed too unseaworthy to carry away, so Maitland burnt her. The clasp "4 June Boat Service 1805" was added to the Naval General Service Medal and issued to surviving claimants in respect of the action.

On 24 December 1805 along with Egyptienne, captured the French Libre, and took her in tow to Plymouth. Libre was not purchased into service.

On 22 April 1806, Loire captured the Spanish privateer Princess of Peace, 14 guns, 23 men.

Loire was paid off at Deptford in October 1806.

On 21 June 1810 Loire and Erebus escorted 100 vessels through the Great Belt into the Baltic.

After service in the war of 1812 with the United States returning to the UK in December 1814 it was decided by the Navy Commissioners on 14 October 1817 that HMS Loire, amongst other ships lying at Plymouth would be offered for sale. HMS Loire was eventually broken up in 1818.

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