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The last invasion of Britain

The Last Invasion of Britain was a French attack on Britain in 1797. A French force of 1,400 troops in four warships, under the command of American Colonel William Tate landed on 22 February 1797 at Carregwastad Head (or possibly Llanwnda), near Fishguard, Wales.


Their aim was to start an uprising against the English and march onwards to Bristol and London. The initial plan was to land near Bristol but adverse weather and tides forced the fleet to turn around and attempt a landing on the coast of Wales. On their way through the Bristol channel the fleet was spotted from Ilfracombe. The fleet was spotted off the coast of Pembrokeshire as it attempted to enter Fishguard harbour. A single shot from the cannons at Fishguard fort was all that was needed to turn the fleet around and it landed on a nearby beach instead. Had Tate known that the defenders had hardly more ammunition than this, the outcome might have been very different.


Many of the French troops were conscripted prisoners and discipline and morale were low. The invasion soon lost momentum when the convicts discovered the locals' supply of whiskey and was concluded with little harm done on either side - a few fatalities and some looting.


The surrender took place on 25 February, signed in the Royal Oak pub in Fishguard and conducted on Goodwick sands.


The local heroine of the invasion was Jemima Nicholas, who with her pitchfork single-handedly rounded up 12 reportedly tipsy invaders.


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Taken on June 2, 2007