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An indecisive naval action off the island on 20 May saw the British vanguard take a severe pounding from the more heavily armed French, while their rear, including Byng's flagship, HMS Ramilles, failed to engage the French at effective cannon range. While half of  Byng's ships were damaged, none were lost, and a Council of War after the action concurred that the fleet stood no chance of relieving Port Mahon. 

Byng ordered a return to Gibraltar, the Admiralty charged him with breaches of the Articles of War, and a court-martial found guilty and sentenced him to death. Byng faced a firing squad aboard HMS Monarch in Portsmouth harbour on 14 March 1757.

While Minorca fell into French hands after the battle, the Treaty of Paris saw the island handed back to Britain for the captured French outposts in the West Indies and Belle-Île off Canada.

British reverses during the war saw a change of government in November 1756, with new Prime Minister William Pitt'sbrother-in-law Lord Temple succeed Anson at the Admiralty.

While Anson had erred on the side of caution by concentrating on the threat of invasion at home and had to accept some responsibility for the loss of Minorca, he was back at the Admiralty when the ministry was reconstructed in July 1757. 

Pitt is often credited with the strategy which saw the British overrun Louisbourg in 1758 and Quebec in 1759, and naval victories at Lagos off Portugal and Quiberon Bay in 1759, but as head of the seagoing navy Anson certainly played a significant part in the successes and the  expedition that took Havana in 1762 was his scheme from the start. 

He was back on the quarterdeck in 1758, taking over the western squadron when Hawke resigned his command and returned to port over a misunderstanding which he saw as a personal slight.

© Ian Hughes 2017