21st March 1783

Soldiers staged a mutiny at Fort George

Fort George may now be a housing development, but the castle that stood there saw action twice.

Late in the Second World War, it was heavily bombarded by the RAF. They were trying to inflict the maximum damage they could on the occupying forces – and they succeeded.

The other time it saw bloodshed was 21 March 1783, when the threat came from closer to home.

Fort George was the home of the 104th Regiment. The Regiment hadn’t long been formed when the arrival of a new batch of soldiers from the 83th Regiment in Portsmouth bolstered their numbers.

Fort George

Mutiny at Fort George

While the 104th was just finding its feet, the introduction of the 83rd upset a delicate balance. It could be that the fort was suddenly over-crowded, but whatever the cause, the men demanded that its gates be left open. That way they’d be allowed to come and go as they chose.

The commanders agreed, but a few days later – on 21st March – violence broke out. The soldier ambushed their officers while they were having dinner. The officers took cover in the mess hall, but the rebels went to an upper floor from which they could fire down on them. The officers ran, and all but two escaped through the fort gates which were, rather conveniently, left wide open. The fort was left in the hands of around 600 rebel soldiers.

Fort George retaken

Clearly it couldn’t be left in what was technically enemy hands, so the officers returned with the Guernsey Militia and the Royal Irish. They took positions behind a hedge around 100m from Fort George. Major Mawbey, who was commanding the Militia and Royal Irish, sent a demand that the rebels surrender, but the rebels refused and fired on the Governor.

The Militia and Royal Irish fired back. They worked their way around the castle until the rebels were surrounded. The rebels continued the fight using muskets, but they were outnumbered and had no choice but to surrender if they wanted to get out alive.

The 104th Regiment was broken up after the incident, to ensure it could never happen again.

 

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Other events that occured in March

Debut of Guernsey-set comedy This is Jinsy 1st
Channel 4 broadcasts Sark-based Mr Pye 2nd
First ever broadcast of Puffin’s Pla(i)ce 3rd
Dead man appointed to run Guernsey Airport 4th
Guernsey’s entire police force is arrested 5th
Isle of Guernsey delivered to its new owners 6th
Guernsey players set darts record
Guernsey heads call for an end to the Eleven-plus 7th
Guernsey’s first governor, Edmund Weston, is appointed 8th
Occupying forces mount a desperate raid on Granville 9th
Guernsey emergency services prepare for a disaster 10th
Birth of Baron James de Saumarez 11th
First publication of Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea 12th
Building work starts on Guernsey Airport 13th
Guernsey’s island-wide police force is established 14th
Guernsey exchange student goes missing in Virginia 15th
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is published 16th
BBC Radio Guernsey takes to the air
Guernsey clears up after heaviest snow in years 17th
Torrey Canyon spills oil on Guernsey’s beaches 18th
Guernsey issues banknotes featuring famous locals 19th
Guernsey guidebook pioneer Henry Inglis dies 20th
Soldiers staged a mutiny at Fort George 21st
Alderney arrest sparks a “riot” 22nd
Guernsey nurse Elizabeth Lincoln elected to the States 23rd
Famed printer Thomas de la Rue born 24th
Guernsey votes for equal age of consent 25th
Guernsey to UK telephone connection inaugurated 26th
Condor Liberation enters service 27th
Guernsey Post Office is established 28th
Enemy at the Door comes to the end of its run 29th
Guernsey adopts Sterling currency 30th
Guernsey and France tackle the Amoco Cadiz oil spill 31st