Grenadier officer of the Regiment, congratulating a Naval
officer on the victory.
Queen’s (Second) Royal Regiment of Foot began service
on board the Fleet in 1793, shortly after Revolutionary France
declared war on Great Britain. Detachments of the Queen’s
were serving in Lord “Black Dick” Howe’s flagship,
HMS Queen Charlotte and also on board HMS Russell, Defence,
Royal George and Majestic. The total battalion strength was fifteen
officers and four hundred other ranks.
The Battle of the Glorious First of June took place in the North
Atlantic, four hundred miles west of Ushant, off the Irish coast.
It was the first decisive meeting between the fleets of Britain
and the French Republic. Its main effect was on the Nation’s
morale, as the victory removed any fear of French invasion. The
French did, however, manage to slip a vital grain convoy from
America into France, whilst the fleets were engaged.
On the morning of the Battle, the enemy fleet was seen about six
miles off on the starboard bow steering in line of battle on the
port tack. The British fleet formed in line abreast and at 9 30am,
the French opened fire. It was said that there could never have
been such a noble sight than seeing twenty-five British line of
battle ships intending to pass through the French line of twenty-six.
An hour later, close action began in the centre, as Lord Howe
in HMS Queen Charlotte engaged the French Admiral Villaret in
the Montagne. Most of the French shot was high, but the British
fire raked the French through the stern and then engaged the enemy
on the leeward side before her guns could properly be brought
to bear. The battle went on until one o’clock in the afternoon;
seven enemy ships were captured and the French suffered 3000 killed
and wounded. British losses were 1000.
representation of the death of Lieutenant Neville on HMS
The detachments fought well, though six private soldiers and Lieutenant
Neville were killed. The Regiment was later allowed the unusual
distinction of wearing the Naval Crown superscribed 1 JUNE
1794 on its Colours; a distinction which continued and
remains with its successors. A strong link was also forged with
the Royal Navy, continuing today with the Portsmouth base, HMS
Excellent, which inherited the traditions of the Queen Charlotte.