British military defeats. "Our nation may boast, beyond any other people in the world, of a kind of epidemic bravery." - Samuel Johnson The British boasts of himself that he is so tough soldier that he does not know when he is beaten. Samuel Johnson even wrote: "Our nation may boast, beyond any other people in the world, of a kind of epidemic bravery." Reading certain accounts of British mega-prowess at war, you wonder if the English casualties are not all caused by friendly fire. The authors have a knack of turning defeat into victory in the Dunkirk style. (Mind you, the catastrophe at Dunkirk was called by many as "It is victory!" and was celebrated in speeches, paintings and poems.) You may even think the British troops were never defeated. Actually they were defeated not only by other Europeans (between 1750 and 1815 they lost more than 60 battles and combats to the French alone, see diagram below) but also by about everyone they ever fought with; - by the Albanians (the 78th Regiment of Foot at Rosetta), - by the Argentinians (in 1806-7 at Buenos Aires) - by the Americans (at Cowpens, in 1813 at Thames, and in 1815 at New Orleans), - by the Poles (in 1810 at Fuengirola), - by the native Indians (at Monongahela), - by the Egyptians (1807 at El-Hamad or Hamaad) etc. At Cowpens the Americans demolished some of the best British infantry. Babits writes: "When the British infantry reached a point '40 or 50 yards' or an even closer - '30 to 40 paces' - the militia commenced volley fire ... The fire was returned but not with vivacity or impression. ... They were by this time within 30 yards of us ... " The American commander said to his officers: "They (British) are coming like a mob. Give them a fire and I will charge them." The Americans delivered a volley and the damage was great. Some British soldiers 'threw down their arms and fell upon their faces.' The 'unexpected fire ... stopped the redcoats and threw them into confusion. Exertions to make them advance were useless [and] an unaccountable panic extended itself along the whole line." Howard ordered a charge with the bayonet, which order was obeyed with great alarcity.' T. Young saw the 'British broke, and throwing down their guns and cartridge boxes, made for the wagon road, and did the prettiest sort of running !" [Babits - "A devil of whipping - the battle of Cowpens"] In October 1813 the British infantry was routed by the Americans in Battle of the Thames. Despite flanking fire, Johnson's Americans broke through. Immediately Procter's redcoats turned and fled the field, many of them surrendering. Tecumseh's Indians remained and kept up the fighting. The British had 489 killed, wounded, and prisoners. The Americans suffered only 3 casualties. The rest of the American casualties were inflicted by the Indians, who fought with determination. Procter was later court-martialed for cowardice and removed from command. During the Napoleonic Wars there were several British failures on European Continent: - French General Suchet defeated two British amphibious expeditions from Sicily against Spain's east coast. - French General Souham succeeded in taking the fortress of Nijmegen defended by 30 000 English infantry supported by 1200 Dutch troops. - In 1808 a British corps landed in Spain but when was threatened by Napoleon, they fled to the sea. General Moore was pushing his troops so hard that discipline almost collapsed, men deserted, and some cannons were abandoned. Moore's 200 mile run to Coruna (Corunna, Elvina) was a very desperate one. The French knocked the stuffing out of him with the Brits being not just taken to the cleaners down to the coast by the enemy, but washed, pressed and sent home in a brown paper bag. - General Sir John Moore's failure in Spain was followed by the "disaster of Walcheren". In 1814 at Berg-op-Zoom the British 55th and 69th Regiment of Foot advanced in the dark then suddenly broke and fled in a wild panick. Not a shot was fired at them, nor was a single Frenchman seen." (Nafziger - "Imperial Bayonets" 1996 p 164) British military defeats during other periods (due to lack of space only few examples below): About 200 BC 'England' had been invaded by Belgic peoples. 'England' was subjugated by Romans for very long time (400 years). The Roman Governor of Britain, Suetonius Paulinus, met the tribesmen in a bloody battle of Boudica. Some 20,000 of the tribesmen were slaughtered, against only 400 Roman dead. After Romans 'England' was repeatedly invaded and conquered by the Vikings. There were days when the Danes made the British tremble, and the English litany included the prayer, "From the fury of the Danes, Good Lord deliver Us." After Romans and Vikings came the Normans from northern France. The Norman warriors defeated the English infantry at the Battle of Hastings (1066) and the Norman leader, William Conqueror and his descendants replaced the Anglo-Saxons as the ruling class of England. (Scotland was never conquered by "foreigners", it became part of United Kingdom and the Act of Union was signed by "bribed Scottish aristocrats" (according to nationalist Scottish history). During WW2 the japanese soldiers said they couldn't regard the British soldiers as soldiers since they "didn't fight". The Battle of Singapore was a brilliant military success by the Japanese against superior numbers and equipment of British infantry (140 000 British vs 40 000 Japanese) "On May 10th 1940, the British Guards land at Hook of Holland, to clear the road to the Hague of German airborne and paratroops. By the time they are ready to attack, the Dutch have cleared the road themselves. The Guards are then requested to help clear other areas in the vicinity of Hook, but they refuse, it not being their exact orders. A refinement of the request to have the Guards defend the fortress of Hook, so the garisson could help clear the area is also refused, the Guards just stay in the docks. When on the 12th a rumour arrives that German tanks have crossed the bridges at Rotterdam (which did not happen until after the armistice on the 14th), they flee in total disarray by sea, leaving all their equipment behind ! (Lt. Col. Brongers "De slag om de Afsluitdijk" and "De slag om de Residentie") According to wikipedia.org in July 1944 during the Operation Goodwood the British and Canadian tanks and bombers destroyed 109 German tanks, for the loss of ... 413 tanks. In June 1944 at Villers Bocage German tank company single-handedly took on a column of the British 7th Armoured Division, and literally destroyed it, so forestalling General Montgomery's planned unhinging of the Wehrmacht's Caen defense. Only in this combat there were 138 destroyed British tanks and 250 destroyed armoured personal carriers, anti-tank guns and transporters. German commander's tank alone destroyed with easy 14 British tanks. Pretty good for a day's work, don't you think ? Days after this fight just the sighting of a Tiger tank caused panic amongst British troops. During further battles German radio men sometimes picked up such messages like "Help, Help, Tiger Tank !" Montgomery banned any combat report describing the fights between German and British tanks. According to Montgomery these reports undermined the morale of his troops. Surrender of the British at Yorktown 1781. Picture by Rocco. [The French commander is in white uniform, the American in dark blue. Both are mounted. According to legend, the British marched to the fife tune of "The World Turned Upside Down," though no real evidence of this exists. British Prime Minister Lord North resigned.] British commander Carr Beresford surrenders to the Argentinians, 1806-7 The British troops fled before the French at Corunna. Picture by Naudet. The British troops fled before the Germans at Dunkirk, 1940. Photo, author unknown. The British troops surrendering to the Japanese at Singapore, 1942. [Many 'directives' to the British troops from commanders and the Prime Minister himself made bold proclamations about 'not giving any ground' in Singapore.] The British troops surrender to the Germans, 1944. Photo, author unknown.