During the late 18th century whilst Britain was otherwise engaged in fighting the war in the American Colonies, France decided to take advantage of the situation and launch an attack to seize the nearby island of Jersey. Lying just nine miles off the French coast at the nearest point, the island had long been the target of French conquest.
In 1373, during the Hundred Years War, the French had attacked the island but withdrew when they had all but occupied it. In 1549 another attempt was made but it collapsed. Britain and France had been at war since 1778 and seeing the chance to try again they launched an attack in 1779. It was an abortive attempt and the invading fleet was scattered by severe weather, undeterred by the failure, plans were put into place to try again in 1781.
This time the landings were effective which resulted in several skirmishes and culminated in a bloody battle in the centre of the town in St Helier. The whole affair was concluded in the space of hours but the attack made England keep on the alert and reinforce Jersey and the Channel Islands as a whole.