A Collection of Naval General Service Medals 1793-1840
Date of Auction: 18th June 2020
Sold for £8,000
Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000
FootnoteProvenance: Sotheby, July 1896; Dalrymple White Collection, Sotheby, July 1946; Glendining’s, March 1992.
Approximately 22 clasps issued for this action.
William Longley is confirmed on the roll as an Ordinary Seaman in Blanche at the capture of the French 40-gun frigate Guerriere off the Faroe Islands in July 1806.
Just before the action commenced, Captain Lavie summoned his crew to the break of the quarter-deck, and thus addressed them - “My lads, there is a French frigate before you, and I give you half an hour to take her. Now go to your quarters, and remember not a shot is to be thrown away.” This laconic address was received with three cheers.
After an action which lasted about three quarters of an hour, the Guerrière having lost her mizzen-topmast, and much damaged in her hull, hauled down her colours. Whilst preparing to remove the prisoners, the Blanche drifted a little to the leeward, and one of the French lieutenants thinking a chance presented itself of re-taking the ship and escaping, there being not more than 30 of the Blanche’s crew on board the prize, suddenly knocked down the Englishman at the wheel, and seizing it himself, shouted to his men to come forward and assist him in clearing the deck of their enemies. The presence of mind of Lieutenant Davies of the Blanche, defeated this attempt almost before the shout of the French officer had died away. Grasping him by the collar, Davies lifted the unfortunate Frenchman up by main strength, and dashed him headfirst down the after hatchway, and then drawing his sword, put to flight two or three of his men who had responded to the call of their officer.
Captain Lavie was knighted for this action but afterward spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war after Blanche was wrecked off Ushant on 4 March 1807 and the entire crew, probably including Longley, were taken prisoner.