121 Introduction The Dutch naval raid up the Medway in June 1667 was one of the greatest humil iations in British military history - the great ships Royal Oak (76 guns), Royal James (82) and Loyal London (92) were burnt and destroyed. The fleet flagship Royal Charles (86) was captured and Dutch command of the sea flaunted off the English coasts 'a dishonour never to be wiped off'.2 The proud symbol of this apogee of Dutch naval power still hangs today in the Rijksmuseum at Amsterdam: the Stuart royal arms from the stern of Royal Charles. It might surprise us today, then, on both sides of the North Sea, that the Dutch officer credited with first boarding and taking possession of Royal Charles was an Irishman though with the 'Dutchified' name of Thomas Tobiaszoon. The States General and the Holland States showered awards on De Ruyter, Van Ghent, De Liefde, Vlugh, Cornelis de Witt, Van Brakel, and the fireship captains. Tobiaszoon was also honoured, receiv ing a gold medal and chain for his part in the victory.3 Commanding the Dutch warship Bescherming (54) at the Medway, he had been refused a commission in the Royal Navy at the Stuart Restoration in 16607 But he was not an isolated British subject aboard the Dutch fleet. The 3-4,000 Dutch marines were commanded by a politically motivated Englishman, the Republican Colonel Thomas Dolman, a former Cromwellian officer.5 He led marine elements landing at Sheerness during the Medway Raid and also at the abortive Dutch attack at Harwich that followed soon after. Two English pilots were serving aboard Admiral De Ruyter's flagship De Zeven Provinciën (80) one of whom was a religious 'fanatiek'; the other was on the run from the law having evaded customs duties in England.6 One of these two men proved indispensable when De Ruyter's Vice-admiral ran aground dur ing the Harwich operation; the accident was 'a great hindrance long detained them' - he had to be sent aboard to bring her off.7 Yet these notable figures were just the tip of the iceberg in terms of numbers, and their evident professional or ideological motivations were not the norm for the bulk of the British personnel in the Dutch navy at that time. Eyewitnesses at the raid told the diarist Samuel Pepys (Clerk of the Acts on the Navy Board, a key British naval administrator), that there were many English aboard the Dutch fleet; their motives were simply to earn their daily bread the Royal Navy could not pay these men but the Dutch could. Referring to the bond pledges they were given by the Royal Navy instead of hard cash, these English had called out to the Medway shore 'heretofore we fought for tickets, now we fight for dollars!'.8 Seamen's wives agreed that the disaster was due to the Royal Navy's failure to pay its crews: Pepys and others were harangued in the streets 'the wives have cried publicly "this comes of your not paying our husbands Most people that I speak with are in doubt how we shall do to secure our seamen from running over to the Dutch.' The presence of the British seamen in the enemy fleet and the reasons for it were accepted across British society: the former Cromwellian Andrew Marveil, Member

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Archief | 2004 | | pagina 123