The flag of Kirkcudbrightshire is flying in Filey’s Memorial Gardens during the month of July to celebrate the growing links between the town and the John Paul Jones Birthplace Museum in Kirkbean, which is situated in the South Western Scottish county of Kirkcudbrightshire.
The famous ‘American’ captain was actually born in Kirkbean, Scotland, before joining the infant navy of the American Revolutionary War. His fame is built upon the battle he fought with the Royal Navy’s HMS Serapis in 1779. Jones is celebrated as ‘the father of the American Navy’ and his story, including the Battle of Flamborough Head, is taught to every American school child.
A John Paul Jones trail is being developed that will stretch from South West Scotland to Filey and it is hoped that it will become a magnet for American tourists. Next week a delegation for the Filey Bay 1779 group will visit the John Paul Jones Birthplace Museum to further links with the museum and the town of Kirkbean.
Representatives from the Filey branch of the British Legion, Yorkshire Coast Bid and Filey Bay Today (who kindly sponsored the cost of the flag) gathered to hoist the flag. John Paul Jones was born on 6 July 1747, hence the reason for flying the flag during July.
Most of the thousands upon thousands of the words written about the Battle of Flamborough Head have been written from an American perspective. The Filey Bay 1779 are keen to highlight the actions of the Royal Navy in the encounter. Although outnumbered and outgunned, the two Royal Navy ships placed themselves between the convoy they were escorting and Jones’ Franco-American squadron of four ships. As a result of their bravery the convoy escaped unscathed. Although the British frigate HMS Serapis sank Jones’ ship the Bonhomme Richard, the Serapis was captured by the Americans and taken to neutral Holland before they could be hunted down by Royal Navy ships flooding into the area in the wake of the battle. Even more astonishing is the story of HMS Countess of Scarborough, a small twenty gun sloop, she was not designed to stand in the line of battle, but she did and took on two French frigates who vastly outgunned her. The crew fought tenaciously for two valuable hours, which both allowed the convoy to escape and kept the French ships from joining the fight between the Serapis and Bonhomme Richard.