The British Empire used medals, coinage and tokens to celebrate its military victories and the individuals involved. Military leaders were often elevated to the imperial aristocracy, such as Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. They became symbols of imperial success or martyrs to be avenged. Medals also occasionally commemorate the fate of British commanders who were unsuccessful to encourage future leaders.
Battle of Barfleur, France (May 29, 1692)
Fought off Cape Barfleur on the Cotentin Peninsula during the War of the Grand Alliance. An English and Dutch fleet of 82 ships of the line under Admiral Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford, defeated 44 French ships of the line, preventing French plans to invade England.
Battle of Blenheim, Bavaria (August 13, 1704)
A major battle during the War of the Spanish Succession. An allied army commanded by John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, decisively defeated a Franco-Bavarian force. The victory prevented the collapse of the Grand Alliance and earned Britain’s army a formidable reputation for skill and bravery.
Glorious First of June, France (June 1, 1794)
The first sea battle of the wars against France that would continue until 1815. It was fought off the island of Ushant by 26 ships of the British Channel fleet under Admiral Howe against 26 French ships. The French were escorting a large convoy of merchant ships, and although Britain won the battle, the convoy escaped.
Battle of Jutland, North Sea (May 31 to June 1, 1916)
Fought off the coast of Denmark. The British had 28 battleships and 9 battlecruisers, the Germans 16 battleships and 5 battlecruisers. World War I’s largest naval battle saw both sides claim victory, but the German navy never again challenged the Royal Navy to a full-scale battle.
Battle of the Somme, France (July 1 to November 18, 1916)
One of the largest and costliest battles of World War I. British and French armies attacked the Germans near the River Somme. More than three million men fought, with one million killed or wounded. July 1 was the bloodiest day in British army history with over 57,000 casualties suffered, including 19,000 dead.

The Royal Navy was not always successful – among their worst defeats were:

Raid on the Medway, England (June 9-14, 1667)
During the Second Anglo-Dutch War, the Dutch fleet surprised England with a raid on the Thames Estuary, destroying a large part of the British fleet and capturing the English flagship, HMS Royal Charles. Trade to London was blocked and English morale suffered.
Battle of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Bay (September 5, 1781)
A British fleet of 19 ships of the line under Admiral Graves attempted to block a French fleet of 25 ships of the line. After suffering defeat Admiral Graves retreated to New York, leaving Lord Cornwallis’ army isolated at Yorktown. The loss of the American colonies became unavoidable.
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