Historical Events - Admiral Earl Howe, Naval Victory Glorious 1st June

Sarah Heath

What happened in 1st of June 1794?

Britain claimed victory over the French in a naval battle in the Atlantic Ocean, 700km off the French island Ushant, and came to be known as Glorious First of June.

On the 1st of June 1794 Britain and France engaged in the first naval battle of the French revolutionary wars.

The British victory came to be known as Glorious 1st June, which began Britain’s naval supremacy for the next 20 years.

Admiral Earl Howe was the commander of the British side and was hailed victorious on 1st June 1794.

This medal commemorates this victory and remembers Admiral Howe for his significant contribution to the war as well as his life-long service to the British Navy.

France had stronger ships, but their crews were inexperienced, and hunger ravaged the nation. England’s crew were more experienced under the command of Admiral Earl Howe.

France was having big problems with food shortages following several years of poor crops as well as the aftermath of the French revolution. To feed France, they needed to import a large amount of grain.

This proved to be difficult as the country was having conflicts with most of its neighbours so transporting the food across land was not an option available to them. It was decided to bring in grain from America. 

The second problem for the French was their inexperienced crew. Despite having bigger and stronger ships many of the crew had not even been on a vessel before and had no knowledge of naval warfare.

Many of the experienced seamen had been either murdered or dismissed following several mutinies caused by lack of pay and proper upkeep.

England realized the military importance of catching the French grain ship, launching an expedition of 34 ships to find the French fleet.

France’s focus was to ensure the vessel holding the grain from America reached French shores safely.

The British knew this and sailed into the Atlantic Ocean to try and find the French convoy.

After a few days of manouvering, both sides positioned themselves in a line, parallel to each other, about 700 miles west of the French island Ushant.

It was at this time that Admiral Earl Howe sent the command for each of his British ships to turn and face their corresponding French ship, accelerate, and fire them down.

However, getting a coordinated clear message along a line of 34 ships was difficult and as this was a more unusual battle tactic, some of the commanders weren’t sure whether to follow or not.

This resulted in a half strength attack to which the French were able to defend.

Britain claimed victory after the battle, but it was not decisive as despite huge casualties, the French managed to get their grain to safety.

All day, the ships fired cannons at each other and both sides destroyed nearly a third of each other’s fleet.

The French had nearly 7000 men killed or injured in the conflict, as well as six of their ships captured by the British.

The British were exhausted from the battle, and with over 1000 men either dead or wounded, could not manage to give chase once the French managed to clear the grain ship and get it to their mainland.

Britain celebrated the victory and many of Howe’s commanders were awarded medals for their service, however some were also punished for not following orders when required, and potentially risking the entire operation. 

Who was Admiral Earl Howe?

Admiral Earl Howe had spent his whole life in the Navy starting in the Jacobite conflicts of the 1740’s when he was a teenager.

He climbed the ranks during his early career from successful campaigns during the Seven Year’s War and was known as a calm and skillful officer.

He was also a compassionate man particularly during his time in America where he attempted reconciliation with the colonialists during the American War of Independence. He was 68 when he commanded the Royal fleet on 1st June 1794.

A brief history of Conrad Heinrich Kuchler, the medallist.

1794 Glorious 1st June Conrad Heinrich Kuchler

The medal commemorating this event has been beautifully engraved by the artist Conrad Heinrich Kuchler.

He was born in Germany but came to England in 1793 where he worked at the Soho Mint in Birmingham.

He had great talents with depicting battle scenes, particularly naval engagements.

This medallion depicts a strong commanding officer in Howe on the obverse, and the reverse shows the British ship with its flag flying, surrounded by canon smoke and watching as the enemy ship turns on her side and sinks.

This beautiful medal is in bronze and is extremely fine. 

Discover our related product: 1794 Admiral Earl Howe, Naval Victory of the 1st June Historical Medallion by C H Kuchler

Discover our related collection: Military Medals

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