130 IN THEE STAITS SERVIS ly issuing passports to English and Scots seamen who wanted to return; they had served aboard the Dutch fleet from early summer 1664.61 This haphazard means ended shortly with Downing's recall to England. Otherwise seamen simply had to take their chances, risking interception and captivity: Dennis Connor was in Hamburg recruiting for the Dutch fleet at the beginning of the Second Dutch War a post of some importance but decided to return as a loyal subject in accor dance with the latest royal proclamation. The Dutch captured him on his home ward voyage: they kept him aboard for two months, before leaving him at Heligoland 'in a most miserable condition'.62 Wartime voyages between the countries were usually limited to packet boats for post and passengers, and vessels specially licensed for bulk exchanges of prisoners of war or priority goods or merchandise for the elite. The packets kept up wartime contact between England and the Republic, plying between Brill and Harwich (the Nieupoort-Dover and Calais-Dover routes were also kept open). The British and Dutch mutually guaranteed the packets, though they were occa sionally intercepted and 'basely treated' by Dutch privateers; sailing was then sus pended for a time. A steady flow of seamen returned on the Harwich and Dover packets, though others might be stopped by the proximity of warships.63 The importance of British seamen as a significant manpower resource to either side is clear: in 1672 an injunction was placed against their leaving the Republic and a yacht deployed off Brill assigned to search any outbound vessels.64 All nations' ill treatment of prisoners of war meant that for many service with the enemy must have been preferable to rotting in prison. Early in 1665 English and Scots prisoners were kept in irons in 'stinking holes', whilst in Flushing gaol, 1666, they were so overcrowded that no one could sit.65 So by 1667, when Johan de Witt needed English personnel for the planning of the Medway operation, it is no surprise that 'he had no difficulty in finding such men': an N. Ravens of Rotterdam was instructed to visit British prisoners and persuade them to enter Dutch service especially Thames and Medway pilots.66 Compulsion might be explicit: in 1672 the crew of the unfortunately named bearing in mind the unpopularity of the French alliance in Britain - French Victory (38, ex-Victoire) 'were kept prisoners on board and by threats and ill-usage were forced to serve' at the battle of Solebay.67 British attempts to retrieve their unemployed seamen or prisoners of war in the Republic were additionally hampered by wrangling over who was to have respon sibility, who was to front the cash to pay for the destitute men's passage and vict uals, and crucially - for the men themselves - which seamen had priority.68 What system existed was rapidly overloaded by the sheer amount of British seamen cap tured by Dutch warships and especially privateers. In 1666, after two years of informal and formal hostilities, the British specifically arranged their prisoner of war exchanges so that Royal Navy prisoners had priority over those British seamen taken out of privateers and merchantmen.65 The decision was reached much more quickly in the Third Anglo-Dutch War, mirroring the success of the Dutch priva teering assault on British trade, with the seamen bearing the brunt of the lack of cruisers for convoy protection and merchants' and masters' decisions to sail with out escorts

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Archief | 2004 | | pagina 132