Battle Honour HAVANNAH

Event
Tuesday, 20 July, 1762 - Tuesday, 13 July, 1762
Battle Honour HAVANNAH

The Battle Honour HAVANNAH is emblazoned on the Regimental Colours of The Royal Irish Regiment. It was awarded to The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers for an action during the Anglo-Spanish War in 1762. The distinction was not borne on our antecedent Regiment's Colours until the Army Order of November 1909 awarded it to the fifteen British regiments that had served with General The Earl of Albemarle’s expedition to Havana.

During the Anglo-Spanish War, part of the Seven Years' War, the British expedition to Cuba in 1762 continued to besiege Havana and El Morro, the great fortress that dominated the entrance to Havana bay and its harbour. The malaria and yellow fever, more than the fighting, had taken a dreadful toll with over 4,863 men laid up with various ailments; of the 5,000 that were fit for duty, many were too weak for much exertion.

The British launched a land and naval bombardment of the fortress on 1 July and although the number of Spanish guns was significantly reduced, the following day the siege suffered a reversal as breastworks caught fire and destroyed siege battery positions. As the batteries were replaced, the attrition of the Spanish force continued with the further reduction of the fort's artillery. On 22 July 1762, the Spanish ventured out of the city and attempted to recapture the key heights of La Cabana and destroy the siege efforts, but the British beat them off with heavy losses.

NMM El MorroOn 30 July, following a further Spanish attack to disrupt the siege, sappers detonated the mines and before the defenders had recovered from their surprise, the storming party had taken possession of the fort (left*). Only three officers and 39 men lost their lives in this phase of the battle. The fall of Fort Morro decided the fate of Havana and when the Spanish accepted terms of surrender on 13 August, the British entered the city on the following day. The capture of Havana, the second capital city of the Spanish Empire, was at the time described as the richest capture ever made by British force of arms. The human cost was almost 1,000 battle casualties with a further 5,000 succumbing to diseases.

The Seven Years War (1756-1763) was concluded by the Treaty of Paris when the British returned Havana to the Spanish and, in return, received Spanish possessions in Florida.

*
(The Capture of Havana, 1762: Storming of Morro Castle, 30 July by Dominic Serres (1722–1793) from the collection of the National Maritime Museum (BHC0413).)

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