On July 2, 1667, a desperate battle was fought on the Suffolk coast. Landguard Fort, south of Felixstowe, was attacked by the formidable forces of the Dutch Republic. Defending it was a detachment of marines, a then experimental branch of the English army who fought off a force four times their size.
Dutch Admiral Michiel de Ruyter had his tail up. His fleet had just sailed unopposed to Chatham and burnt 13 English warships at anchor. On their way back from this victory, a 2,000-strong Dutch force landed at Woodbridge, and attacked the vital strongpoint at Landguard from the landward side.
The fort controlled access to the Harwich estuary. If it fell, the dutch fleet could rampage inland and add further injury to the English humiliation at Chatham. Landguard’s English garrison was commanded by Captain Nathaniel Darell. He had 100 gunners and 51 cannon, plus 400 men of the Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment – the Marines.
The Dutch were beaten off following fierce fighting. The Marines had saved the remainder of the fleet, the port of Harwich as well as the towns and ports along the Orwell and Stour rivers.