Waging war on Signal Hill

Steve Bartlett
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British, French fought in St. John’s 250 years ago

Amherst ordered two companies to march from The Grove to Quidi Vidi that night and surprise the enemy.

At dawn on the 15th, under heavy fog, they attacked the French on the summit from the direction of Cuckhold’s Cove.

The offensive lasted minutes, with the French pulling back down the hill.

Both sides suffered roughly two dozen casualties, including four or five deaths each.

David Perry, who fought with one of the companies, detailed what happened next in his memoirs, “Recollections of An Old Soldier: The Life of Captain David Perry (1741-1826).”

“It pretty soon commenced raining exceedingly hard, and continued to rain until about midnight of the next night, when it cleared away. We remained masters of the hill, and were obliged to remain on it without a mouthful of food or drink of any sort, until morning of the second day after we started.”

Six hundred French infantry had retreated to Fort William.

Some of their naval officers, including de Ternay, took advantage of a heavy fog that night, cutting a boom they had deployed across The Narrows and shipping out into the Atlantic.

Amherst was told some French ships were leaving but didn’t share the information with Colville.

He did feared the French would destroy Fort William and sent a letter to the commanding officer, d’Haussonville, on the 16th, warning “every man should be put to the sword” if they damaged it.



Organizations: North American, British Navy, Royal Canadian Legion Signal Hill Tattoo Great Big Sea

Geographic location: Signal Hill, Newfoundland, Waging Torbay Fort William Colville Bay Bulls Halifax Petty Harbour Quidi Vidi Lake Narrows North America Paris France Islands of St-Pierre—Miquelon Louisburg Montreal Caribbean North America.Beside

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Recent comments

  • David Green
    July 18, 2012 - 11:56

    Interesting to read that the goal of the French military commanders was to destroy the fishing infrastructure. Were they alive today, I'm sure they would be happy to know the Harper government is continuing to do that for them.