New Holland +Britain + Independent America + India + France + Spanish South America = European Australia

‘As for India, it had to remain a strategical back-water while Britons had their backs to the wall in so many other vital theatres. The interventions of the French navy, in the Channel, off Gibraltar, in the West Indies, off Yorktown, had clearly played a considerable part in Britain’s failure to win the war in America’. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery, 3rd ed. Fontana Press, 1991 

Whitehall :Lord George Germain, Secretary of State for America since 1775 the beginning of America’s War of Independence (1775-83, despite General Charles Cornwallis’ defeat at Yorktown October 1781,spied from his vantage point in far-off London ‘a clear vision of victory’.

A Dictionary of British History, Secker & Warburg, edited by J.P. Kenyon.

Germain’s ‘vision of victory’ was based on many factors. Among them; .’rumours Vermont would declare for the British‘ – George Washington’s Continental Army was ‘on the verge of collapse....good reason to believe that France and Spain might end their involvement in the war’. Andrew Jackson O’Shaunghnessy, The Men Who Lost America, Yale University Press, New Haven, London. 2013 

Germain was wrong. Even after Britain’s disastrous defeat at Yorktown, a smallpox epidemic, a bitter winter, shortage of ammunition and  food, he urged Parliament continue a now manifestly un-winnable war.

‘Wthout the direct intervention of Britain’s adversaries, France and Spain, on America’s side, the colonies could not [have] hope[d] to prevail against the superior British army and navy to win their independence outright’. Larrie D. Ferreiro, Introduction, Brothers At Arms, American Independence and The Men of France and Spain Who Saved it. First Vintage Books Ed. New York, 2017

Yorktown –  October 1781: Five thousand (5000) survivors of General Lord Charles Cornwallis’ nine thousand (9,000) strong army surrendered to a combined French-American force on the 19th of October 1781. The defeat brought an effective end to the American War of Independence 1775-1783.

Britain’s loss of her thirteen (13) American colonies had been due in large part to massive injections of French money, men munitions and military know how.

Not just the Declaration of Independence but Also a Declaration That We Depend on France (and Spain Too). Ferreiro. op.cit.

Britain’s profound humiliation at the hands of French troops supporting America’s home-spun Patriot militia and help, to a lesser extent from Spain, ‘aroused great passion in British politics’.


London- 1783:  At the Admiralty post-war  ‘the intervention of the French Navy’ drove a thirst for revenge.

‘In early August 1781, de Grasse’s fleet, with three thousand [3000] troops on board, sailed from Cuba for Chespeake Bay’. Chavez, 2002, cited The American Revolution A World War, ed. David K. Allison & Larrie D. Ferreiro, Smithonian Books, Washington D.C.  

Chesapeake – September 1781: Particularly galling had been Admiral Paul de Grasse’s out-manoeuvring and subsequent blockade of Royal Navy ships at Chesapeake Bay.

Also known as the Battle of Virginia Capes it was a prelude to the siege of and subsequent  battle for Yorktown .De Grasse’s successful action not only starved General Cornwallis of reinforcements it prevented the unloading of heavy artillery pieces.

The blockade gave General George Washington and his Continental army time to build their numbers.

‘On land Washington commanded  sixteen thousand [16,000] troops, nearly one half of them French. With nineteen thousand [19,000] sailors of De Grasse’s fleet, the siege [of Yorktown] involved more than twice as many French and American combatants. Allison & Ferreiro. ibid. 

Alexander Hamilton’s light infantry with fixed bayonets, under cover of a devastating artillery bombardment, over-ran two (2) of Cornwallis’ forwards posts. This allowed French armour move closer to the British lines in time to repulse an attempted counter-attack by Cornwallis’ men.

Yorktown – October 19:r General Charles Cornwallis’ English and Loyalists troops surrendered to a combined force Washington’s Patriot militia and French Regulars – commanded by French Generals La Fayatte and Rochambeau.

The enormity of Britain’s humiliation at the loss of her ‘empire in the west’ – the colonies of North and South Carolina, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Virginia – cannot be overstated.

Defeat ‘aroused great passion in British politics’ making inevitable further conflict between England and her arch-rivals France and Spain.


‘The British had long sought to penetrate Spain’s jealously guarded South American Trade’. Nigel Rigby, Peter van der Merwe, Glyn Williams – Pacific Explorations, Voyages of Discovery from Captain Cook’s Endeavour to the Beagle, Bloomsbury, Adlard Coles, London 2018

Pivot, New Holland’s geographical position in the Indian, Pacific and Southern oceans, combined with Britain’s thirst for Spanish gold and silver, marked it out for conquest.

‘Britain rebuilt its economy and its navy. A new oceanic empire in Asia and the Pacific developed after the voyages of Captain James Cook which was sponsored by George 111 and Joseph Banks, the President of the Royal Society’. American Revolution, A World War, Andrew Lambert. ibid.

Britain’s decision in 1786 to invade and conquer New Holland was part of a very long game. It followed on from advise from Sir James Harris Britain’s Ambassador at the Hague.

‘Our wealth and power in India is their [France’s] great and constant object of jealously; and they will never miss an opportunity of attempting to wrest it out of our hands’. Cited, Michael Pembroke, Arthur Phillip Sailor Mercenary, Governor Spy, Hardie Grant Books. 2013

‘We must never lose sight…of India’ – it was time to take India off the back-burner.

‘The final battles of the American Revolution were fought not in North America but in India, another theater where  Britain and France were vying for political dominance. In both the United States and India as well as through the developing world, legacies of that distant war persist. American Revolution A World War, Forward, eds. ibid.

The invasion of New Holland falls within the strategic planning arc of the 1792-1802 phase of the age old Anglo-French-Spanish struggle for supremacy over land and sea.

‘In November 1784 Henry Dundas, probably [Prime Minister] Pitt’s closest advisor…warned that India is the first quarter to be attacked, we must never lose sight of keeping such a force there [India] as will be sufficient to baffle and surprise’. Pembroke .ibid.


England and Spain: In January 1783, while peace negotiations between the warring parties of the American Revolution were still in progress, four (4) ‘ships of the Line’ slipped quietly out of  Portsmouth Harbour.

They planned to combine with a squadron sailing across from the East Indies to attack and harass the then Spanish colonies of Monte Video, present day Uruguay and Buenos Aires, present day Argentina. See: Monte Video – Lord Sydney, Arthur Phillip & ‘Christopher Robin’ Mark 1

The ships sailed under overall command of Sir Richard Kingsmill in HMS Elizabeth 74 guns,  HMS Grafton 74 guns Sir John Hamilton, HMS  Iphigenia 32 guns Captain William Parker and, Captain Arthur Phillip HMS Europa 64 guns.

The squadron’s ‘secret instructions’ – a strategic battle plan – had been drawn up by Captain Arthur Phillip RN in 1782 at the behest of the then Home Secretary Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney.


London – Court of St. James: ‘We, reposing special trust and confidence in your loyalty courage and experience in military affairs…constitute and appoint you to be Governor of our territory called New South Wales…according to the rules and disciplines of war’. King George 111, 12 October 1786. Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. 1  

New Holland: Phillip brought his ‘secret [Monte Video] instructions’ to Botany Bay. See: Botany Bay – Lord Sydney, Arthur Phillip & ‘Christopher Robin’ Mark 2

The loss of her American colonies ‘marked the final collapse of British political and military power in North America’. Dictionary of Battles, David Chandler, Henry Holt, New York, 1987  See: Proximity Not Distance Drove Britain’s invasion of New Holland


‘Captain Arthur Phillip founded a penal colony with instructions from the [British] crown to protect the lives and livelihoods of Aboriginal people and forge friendly relations with the natives.

For a brief moment there was hope…within a matter of years violence had broken out on both sides and Phillip would now instruct raiding parties to bring back the severed heads of warriors’. Stan Grant, Talking To My Country, Text Publishing, 2017

What flipped the switch from ‘hope’ to ‘severed heads’ ? 

‘I need not enlarge on the benefit of stationing a large body of troops in New South Wales…Should any disturbance happen in the East Indies, they might be transported tither before our enemies in Europe knew anything of the matter…No person, not even yourself, shall ever know from where this proceeds and I give my honour not a hint of it shall ever transpire’. Anon to Evan Nepean. Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol 1.

Britain’s minerals such as coal and salt, were for home consumption. Her trading wealth, lay primarily in human trafficking – the African slave trade –  sugar from the West Indies –  textiles from India, drugs opium from India and tobacco from America.

Although Britain had undertaken extensive, expensive voyages of discovery and colonial exploitation but, unlike the voyages of Spain and Portugal,  these had not yet yielded the mother lode – rivers of silver and gold.


‘Sir Francis Drake, ‘a kinsman of Captain Jack Hawkins’, presented Queen Elizabeth the First with ‘wines from Chile and ingots of fine gold worth 37,000 ducats’.

From the the time of Elizabeth’s buccaneers Treasury had come to rely on ‘yearly predatory raids’ on Spanish galleons loaded with looted treasure en-route from Peru, Chile to Spain. Concise Encyclopaedia of Exploration, English translation from French, Wm. Collins, Glasgow 1969

By the mid 1700s, aside from tin, copper and a few almost spent silver mines, the British Isles had no indigenous precious metals to speak of.

This at a time when Chinese merchants demanded silver in payment for the highly desirable goods – jewels, silks porcelain, snuff and tea, craved by Britain’s elite.

‘The Spaniards knew no respite from English pirates’. Looted treasure  was seized from Spanish ships on their way from South America to Spain.

London – 15 June, 1744: ‘The streets of London witnessed a triumph worthy of antiquity; 32 Chariots laden with enemy spoils, with [Admiral Sir George] Anson leading the way, followed by survivors of his [Centurion] crew and a band of trumpets, tambourines (a Spanish touch)…seized off Manilla…silver, gold, objects stolen from [Peruvian churches], jewels, sumptuous garments and arms’. Concise Encyclopaedia.  


New Holland – 1786: ‘Phillip…had instructions to deal with the ‘natives’ with ‘amity and kindness’. Professor Larissa Behrendt, The Honest History Book, Invasion or Settlement, NewSouth Press, 2017

Although ‘amity and kindness’ were the ‘weasel words’ of their day, Stan Grant and Larissa Behrendt, two (2) First Nations’ authors, are satisfied Governor Phillip took the concept seriously.

Sydney – 1790: In so doing they honed in on a critical pinch-point that occurred in 1790 in the first decade of Britain’s occupation of New Holland that flipped the switch from ‘amity and kindness’ to ‘years of violence’?

‘The great change came in the arrival with the Second Fleet [June 1790] of the first companies of the New South Wales Corps [among them]… Lieutenant John Macarthur – central figure in the military ‘mafia’ which quickly established itself as Australia’s first governing and property-owning elite’. Pacific Explorations. ibid.

This writer believes in December 1790 Governor Phillip’s ‘experience in military affairs, courage and loyalty’ to King and Country trumped ‘amity and kindness’ resulting in the near destruction of Australia’s First Peoples.


‘There were plans to use the [New South Wales] Corps in expeditions against Panama, Peru and the Philippines but nothing eventuated’. 

Six (6) months after the New South Wales Corps and Lieutenant John Macarthur arrived in June 1790, Governor Phillip was faced with a military insurrection.

It led him to a strategic intervention that took Australia’s European history on a trajectory from ‘amity and kindness’ to what Peter Stanley characterised as ‘war nasty and decidedly lacking in glory’. See: ‘Terror’ Arthur’s Algorithm ‘Open Sesame’

‘By 1795 up to a quarter of the corps was operating along the river [sent] to destroy[the natives]…to strike terror by erecting gibbets in the bush [where was this] the Corps first experience of war came…on the Hawkesbury [Derrubbin] River… Dr Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison, The British Army in Australia 1788-1870, Kangaroo Press, Sydney, 1986

Sydney – 13 December, 1790: Phillip issued the directive ‘instil universal terror’. See: John Mc Intyre – Death of a Sure Thing

Governor Phillip ordered Marine Captain Watkin Tench lead a detachment of fifty (50) officers and other ranks to march against the Bidjigal of Botany  Bay; ‘kill ten…bring in the heads of the slain…bring away two prisoners to execute in the most public and exemplary manner’. General Orders, 13 December 1790 . See: The Switch –  Context – War With France 1793-1815

‘A continuing pattern of killings…unofficial and official massacres of Aboriginal groups…these military and police raids  commenced by December 1790…[and] lasted from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries’. Professor Bruce Kercher, An Unruly Child, A History of the Law in Australia, Allen & Unwin, Sydney 1995


‘Next to the Americans, the British fared best from the peace settlement [Treaty of Versailles 1783]. Although they had lost America they won the rest of the world.

The British not only saved the rest of their empire but also added to it in India.  In the nineteenth century, India would become the primary base of renewed imperial expansion’. Allison & Ferreiro. ibid.

On the cusp of more than a generation of global war-fare, the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815 ‘politics and great passion’ – loss of face and greed – drove the invasion of New Holland.

After a ‘brittle’ truce, March 1802 – May 1803, Treaty of Ameins, the French-Anglo struggle for power went global under General Napoleon Bonaparte.


The First Australians mounted armed resistance from south to north east to west, as occupation and dispossession snaked slowly across their lands. ‘As if ‘ Dr Stanley so rightly asserts; ‘the invasion of their land would call for any other response but armed resistance’.

But of Britain’s invasion of New Holland – not a whisper. George Usher, Dictionary of British Military History, 2000 terms clearly defined, A & C Black, London 2nd ed. 2006


2020 : ‘Legacies of that distant war [War of Independence 1775-1783] persist’.

As does Britain’s resistance to exposing the grubby underworld behind the invasion of ‘our territory New South Wales’ New Holland and the dispossession and near destruction of its Peoples.

‘It is much to the credit of those in office [Pitt administration] that an empire has been founded in the south, which time will render much superior to that which their predecessors have lost in the west [America]’. Anon. Historical Records of New South Wales 

‘Hush hush whisper who dares’. A.A. Milne, Vespers, When We Were Young


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