A Naval Biographical Dictionary/Addendum: Dillon, William Henry

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DILLON, Kt., K.C.H. (Rear-Admiral of the White, 1846.)

Sir William Henry Dillon was often during the war employed, as we have already noticed, on the extra-duty of carrying flags of truce, owing in a great measure to the knowledge he possessed of the French language. It was on many of those occasions in his power, by timely concessions – made, indeed, on his own responsibility, but always with a degree of judgment that called forth the warm thanks and approbation of the Commander-in-Chief – to assuage the angry feelings of our enemies, and thereby to facilitate the exchange of prisoners. The attack upon the French frigates at St. Eustatia was made by a British squadron, consisting, with L’Aimable, of the Bellona and Invincible 74’s and Lapwing 28. It was not, however, persisted in, inasmuch as the island was Dutch, and it was found impossible to destroy the frigates without inflicting material injury on the town. The expeditious manner in which, although the service was attended with risk, Mr. Dillon, aided by a brother officer, succeeded, when in the Glenmore, in securing the person of the Irish rebel before alluded to, whose name was Skallion, elicited the thanks of a Court-martial at the time sitting to try such offenders. In July, 1803, as we have stated, he was sent with a flag of truce from Lord Keith to the Dutch Commodore Valterbeck; who, to his surprise, detained him, separated him from his men, and placed him in confinement on board a small armed schooner lying in the outer anchorage. At the end of eight days he received an answer to his despatch from the Hague, and was told that he might depart. As he was in the act of making sail, however, to rejoin his ship, an armed launch belonging to a French frigate came alongside, and, as he had no means of resistance, compelled him, although he was under a flag of truce, to surrender. Ultimately he was ordered to Verdun, where he remained, in spite of a demand made by the British Government for his release through Lords Yarmouth and Lauderdale, until Sept. 1807, when he was at length, through private influence, restored to liberty. In the action with the Lougen Capt. Dillon had 2 men killed and 9 wounded. He was for nearly 30 years Equerry to the Duke of Sussex.


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