Battle of Quiberon Bay, 20 November 1759 (France)

Naval Battle in Seven Years War that ended the threat of a French invasion of Britain, and removed the French navy from the rest of the war. The French invasion fleets were on the west coast of France - the ships of the line under Admiral de Conflans at Brest, and the flat bottomed boats further south in Quiberon Bay. The British blockading fleet, under Admiral Hawke, had been reinforced after Lagos Bay removed the threat from the French Mediterranean fleet, and outnumbered the French ships. On 14 October, de Conflans was ordered to take his ships to join with the troop-ships. At this point, the November weather aided the British. A gale blew up, helping Hawke rush south to intercept de Conflans, while the same gale prevented Hawke from entering the safety of the bay. On 20 November, Hawke sighted de Conflans twenty miles out to sea, and ordered a general pursuit. De Conflans ordered his fleet to flee into Quiberon Bay, expecting Hawke to call off the chase when he saw the wild seas at the entrance to the bay, an area of rocks and reefs. He was wrong, and instead of safety, he had sailed his fleet into a trap, which Hawke was able to take great advantage. By the time nightfall ended the battle, the French had lost half of their ships, and 2,500 skilled sailors, whose lose was the most serious result of the battle for the French. The victory was made more impressive by the treacherous nature of the seas in which it was fought, and the weather on the day.

Books on the Seven Years's War | Subject Index: Seven Years' War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (10 November 2000), Battle of Quiberon Bay, 20 November 1759,

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