by D1LYS DAVIS
FEW people realise that this country was invaded as recently as a hundred and forty-three years ago. It was when Britain was at war with Napoleon and an American adventurer, named Tate, undertook to
land and army in Wales.
One fine morning in February, 1797,
flying the White Ensign of the British Navy, three men-of-war sailed up the Pembrokeshire coast to Fishguard.
Anxious Welshmen watched the movements of these ships from the cliff tops,
wondering how three men-of-war could be spared from the English Channel, where they had their work cut out in keeping an eye on the Flench Fleet.
Farm Implements as Weapons
When these battle-ships cast anchor, hauled down the British Flag and hoisted the French Tr-colour the suspicious country folk ran off to spread the alarming news that French ships were in the
bay. Meanwhile the French sailors lowered their boats and rowed Napoleon's soldiers to the shore.
The Welshmen after gathering together scythes and other farm implements. suitable as weapons of defence, awaited developments on the hills.
Soon Lord Cawdor with forty officers of the Pembrokeshire Hussars, mounted on splendid horses and wearing gorgeous uniforms, rode along the cliffs, ahead of three hundred of these local troops. This sight so impressed the Frenchmen, that they thought the leaders of the Yeomanry to be an important English general with his staff, leading the vanguard of a large army which was not very far away.
Without an element of surprise, it seemed to the French futile to have landed such a small army. So General Tate sent a message to Lord Cawdor, asking for terms and offering to surrender. Which they did, soon after, on the Goodwick Sands.
It was when the Pembrokeshire Hussars were drawn up to guard their prisoners, that the Frenchmen realised,
that they had submitted to an army composed of only three hundred men. Imagine their further chagrin, when the invaders discovered that they had been tricked into this predicament, by a few hundred Welsh women, who had walked to and fro about the hills, wearing their long scarlet cloaks and tall black hats expressly to make the French think they were the red-coated British Army, ready and waiting to attack.
Unaware of this, the French battleships sailed off as quickly as they could, leaving behind them, one thousand four hundred of Napoleon's soldiers to be kept prisoners till the war was over.
The Pembrokeshire Hussars are now an artillery regiment, hut they still have the word " Fishguard " inscribed on their colours as a battle honour.
The actual red cloaks and black hats are cherished by several Pembrokeshire families, as heinourable relics and evidence of the history their great grandmothers helped to make that day.