Date Posted: 08/11/2011
I was doing some work on Jutland this morning when I realised that it was fought on the 122 anniversary of the Glorious First of June (1794) and also on the 250th anniversary of the start of the Four Days Battle of 1666.
And then it became clear that a really surprising number of significant naval battles have been fought in the first week of June:
Gabbard 2-3 June 1653
Lowestoft 3 June 1665
4 Days Battle 1-4 June 1666
Solebay 28 May 1672
Battles of Schoonveld 28 May-4 June 1673
Shannon-Chesapeake Action 1 June 1813
Glorious First of June 1794
Jutland 31 May – 1 June 1916
Some of these battles are stand-alone events, such as the Shannon-Chesapeake action or Jutland, but many of the others share a great number of logistical or strategic features. Is daylight the answer? – We are near the summer solstice and so there is plenty of time to find and then fight your enemy. Perhaps the answer lies in the accessibility of food for the fleets – June being a time of plenty for fresh food, though it is just before the annual harvest of grain, when stocks are at their lowest ebb. Perhaps the answer lies in politics. Why did it matter so much that a nation’s navy was active in mid summer in the northern hemisphere, when seas were calm and winds were light?
What do you think?