• Si Biggs

The Battle of Belle Isle - 7 June 1761


The Marines played a major role in the capture of this island, from the first amphibious landing, and through all subsequent fighting.

The Capture of Belle Île was a British amphibious expedition to capture the French island of Belle Île off the Brittany coast in 1761, during the Seven Years' War.

After an initial British attack was repulsed, a second attempt under General Studholme Hodgson forced a beachhead. A second landing was made, and after a six-week siege the island's main citadel at Le Palais was stormed, consolidating British control of the island.


Two battalions of Marines, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John McKenzie, served with great distinction at the siege of Belle Isle, an island off the north-west coast of France near St Nazaire in Quiberon Bay.

With the 19th Regiment, these two units effected their first successful seabourne landing in the face of stiff opposition. They took part in all subsequent fighting on the island.

The Marine battalions gained great fame at the final storming of the redoubts in June.

Of their conduct on this occasion the Annual Register for 1761 said: "No action of greater spirit and gallantry has been performed during the whole war". The laurel wreath borne on the Colours and appointments of the RM is believed to have been adopted in honour of the distinguished service of the Corps during this operation.

The British occupied the island for two years before returning it in 1763 following the Treaty of Paris.

See Belle Isle Pinned here: RM A Geo History 1664 - Present day


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