• Si Biggs

Occupation of Dinghai harbour

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines


Location: China


Period/ Conflict: Opium Wars


Year: 1840


Date/s: June 1840


In late June 1840 the first part of the expeditionary force arrived in China aboard 15 barracks ships, four steam-powered gunboats and 25 smaller boats.


The flotilla was under the command of Commodore Bremer. The British issued an ultimatum demanding the Qing Government pay compensation for losses suffered from interrupted trade and the destruction of opium, but were rebuffed by the Qing authorities in Canton.





With the British expeditionary force now in place, a combined naval and ground assault was launched on the Chusan Archipelago. Zhoushan Island, the largest and best defended of the islands was the primary target for the attack, as was its vital port of Dinghai. When the British fleet arrived off of Zhoushan, Elliot demanded the city surrender.


The commander of the Chinese garrison refused the command, stating that he could not surrender and questioning what reason the British had for harassing Dinghai, as they had been driven out of Canton. Fighting began, a fleet of 12 small junks were destroyed by the Royal navy, and British marines captured the hills to the south of the Dinghai.


The British captured the city itself after an intense naval bombardment on 5 July forced the surviving Chinese defenders to withdraw.


The British occupied Dinghai harbor and prepared to use it as a staging point for operations in China. In the fall of 1840 disease broke out in the Dinghai garrison, forcing the British to evacuate soldiers to Manila and Calcutta.


By the beginning of 1841 only 1900 of the 3300 men who had originally occupied Dinghai were left, with many of those remaining incapable of fighting. An estimated 500 British soldiers died from disease, with the Cameron and Bengali volunteers suffering the most deaths, while the Royal Marines were relatively unscathed. Read More/ Web Link: Wikipedia

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