Today on December 10th 1652, Dutch warships temporarily take control over the English Channel after their victory at the Battle of Dungeness.
The Battle of Dungeness was a naval engagement fought between the English and Dutch navies. The battle was part of the First Anglo-Dutch War and occurred off the coast near Kent. Prior to the battle, the English commander, Robert Blake, had made the mistake of splitting up his core fleet by sending ships to the Mediterranean and the Baltic. The English had previously defeated the Dutch navy at the Battle of Kentish Knock in late September. He never thought the Dutch would bring out their fleet again so late in the year.
Meanwhile, the Dutch were hastily reinforcing their fleet to protect a massive merchant convoy of 300 vessels. The Dutch commander, Maarten Tromp, had 73 warships at his disposal and successfully escorted the convoy through the most dangerous parts of the English Channel. He then turned back to find the English fleet. Blake severely underestimated the Dutch navy and miscalculated the number of enemy vessels.
The weather ultimately played a critical role in the outcome. The winds blew Blake’s vanguard directly into the Dutch navy before he was able to confirm their number of ships. The Dutch managed to capture three ships and sink two, while only losing one of their own. In February of the following year, the English re-established control of the channel and closed it off once again to Dutch trading.
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