The Glorious First of June

Glorious First of JuneIt is one of the small annoyances of life that some people expect the weather to be ‘glorious’ on the First of June. It certainly hasn’t been today, but still some commentators, phone-in merchants and pub-chatterers bemoan the fact that the sun is not shining brightly and the skies wall-to-wall blue – just because it is the first day of (meteorological) summer.

The Glorious First of June was a sea battle known by its date rather than where it took place because it wasn’t fought near anywhere – actually in the Atlantic Ocean 400 km west of Brittany. It is known in France as the Bataille du 13 prairial an 2 because it was fought on the thirteenth day of the month prairial in the second year of the Republican Calendar. (See an earlier blog).

It was the first Naval battle of the French Revolutionary Wars. The British and the French fleets were of similar strength (25 British and 26 French ships of the line) and the French were defeated in terms of ships lost and casualties sustained. The British did not, however, succeed in their main aim – which was to prevent a convoy of ships carrying grain to famine hit France. So it was a British tactical victory and a French strategic one.

Nothing – whatsoever – to do with the weather.