The ''Pastris''

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The Pastris


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Parliamentary frigate


There was a plucky little fight between the Pastris, one of Sir George Carteret's vessels of 14 guns, against the Parliamentarian frigate of 36 guns. By A C Saunders


On 26 June 1650 and the "Patris" had just captured a prize off Alderney and placed a prize crew on board when they saw an English vessel in the distance. The "Patris" was commanded by a Captain Corneille, who had come to Jersey to join Sir George's fleet. As soon as Corneille saw that the English vessel was so much more powerful than his own, he recalled the prize crew, except two, and prepared to meet the enemy.

Alderney to Jersey

For five hours the two vessels fought, and the fight continued as the vessels sailed from Alderney to the coast of Jersey, where the inhabitants watched the fight from the shore. The big ship was the faster of the two and tried to board the "Pastris", but Corneille and his men were ready for the boarders and, while half the crew repelled the English, the other half moved some guns to the side so they could fire at the enemy's vessel.

It was a glorious little fight all dependent on the determination and bravery of the master who, clad in doublet and hose without hat or coat and armed with a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other, encouraged his crew by his superb example. Some of the crew, seeing the odds against them, wished to capitulate, but Corneille told them they were cowards and threatened to run his sword through any man who talked of surrender, and when he suspected some of the crew of hiding below, he followed them and threatened to kill them unless they returned to the fight. He told them he would never give in to the English.

And so for five hours the two ships fought and Corneille lost four men killed and 12 wounded and the stock of powder was running short. They had during the fight fired 234 shots from their guns and used 750 lb of powder, and just when they had 1½ lb of powder left, the English vessel turned tail and fled from their plucky little enemy. The Jerseymen cheered lustily as they saw their enemy disappear and Corneille ordered them a salute of three guns, but they had not the politeness to reply.

The "Pastris" then entered St Aubin's bay to the salute of the guns from the Castle and vessels, and the crew were given a most enthusiastic reception as they landed. Next clay two of the wounded died and the dead were given a public funeral in St Helier's cemetery as befitting the heroes of so great a fight, with coffins covered with the frigate's ensign and escorted by a guard of sailors, four of whom carried a reversed ensign spread out.

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