Broke Philip Bowes

(09.09.1776 - 02.01.1841)


Prominent officer of the British Royal Navy, Rear Admiral, 1st Baronet, KCB.

Born in Necton, near Ipswich. He was a descendant of Sir Richard Broke, the chief baron of the treasury. He was educated at the Ipswich School.

Brook entered the Royal Naval Academy at the Portsmouth Shipyard in 1788 and began active service as a midshipman in 1792.For him, it was unimportant to receive a formal naval education. He served as a third lieutenant on the HMS Southampton frigate during the battle at Cape St. Vincent in February 1797. He became commander in 1799, and captain on February 14, 1801.

On November 25, 1802, he married Sarah Louise Middleton, daughter of Sir William Fowle Middleton, 1st Baronet of Crawfield, Suffolk. They had eleven children, including Sir Philip Broke, 2nd Baronet (1804-1855), Admiral Sir George Broke-Middleton, 3rd Baronet (1812-1887), and Captain Charles Acton (died 1855).

Broke's most notable achievement was the victory of the 38-gun frigate "Shannon" under his command over the American ship "Chesapeake" on June 1, 1813.

Broke took command of Shannon on August 31, 1806. In 1811, diplomatic relations between America and Great Britain deteriorated, and on June 18, 1812, the United States Congress declared war.

There were half a dozen naval battles between the Royal Navy and the equivalent ships of the US Navy in 1812 and early 1813.The Americans won every time, primarily because, although the British and American ships were the same speed, they were not the same size or power. In each case, the American ships were significantly more British, had much larger crews and weapons (the Americans had a main battery of 24 pound long guns compared to smaller 18 pounds installed on British ships).

The situation changed when Shannon defeated Chesapeake in Boston, Massachusetts, when the captain of the last ship answered the challenge made by Broke. Although the Chesapeake was a slightly larger ship and had a much larger crew, the artillery was Broke's area of expertise, and the Shannon crew was exceptionally well prepared. The Chesapeake was disabled by artillery fire, boarded up and captured within 15 minutes of opening fire. 56 sailors on the Chesapeake were killed and 85 injured, including its captain James Lawrence, who died of wounds on 4 June. Lawrence’s last command is reportedly "do not give up the ship". On board the Shannon, 24 people were killed and 59 injured, including Broke, who was seriously wounded in the head, leading the landing team.


Cemetery of St. Martin's Church


Command of "Shannon" took Lieutenant Provo Wallis. Surgeons rescued Broke; he finally recovered in Halifax, at the residence of the Commissar of the Navy.

Shannon's victory caused a sensation in both the United States and Great Britain. In recognition, Broke was awarded the title of Baronet on September 25, 1813 and awarded the Order of the Bath on January 3, 1815 and the sea gold medal, one of eight awards for the actions of one ship between 1794 and 1816.

Wounds received by Broke prevented further active service. He was appointed naval rifle specialist of the Royal Navy.

July 22, 1830 he was awarded the title of Rear Admiral.

He died in Necton, buried in the cemetery of St. Martin.

Glacier in the inner part of the Magdalena Fjord, Alberta I Land, West Spitsbergen Island. The coordinates are 79° 30'N  11° 00'E.


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