SPAIN planned an invasion of Britain’s colony in Australia in the late 18th century with a 100-vessel armada, according to new historical evidence.
By using a new ‘hot shot’ cannon that fired heated cannonballs to set fire to buildings and ships, the Spanish wanted to “take the fight to the British in the Pacific” and their “expulsion” from Australia.
Newly uncovered documents reveal that Spain planned to lay siege to Sydney from Spanish colonies in South America with a fleet of 100 ships, in an effort to curtail Britain’s ability to cause “great harm” to Spain’s colonial interests in the Philippines and in the Americas.
“The goal was complete surrender by the British and their expulsion from the Australian land mass,” said Chris Maxworthy of the Australian Association of Maritime History, who found the documents.
“The effect (of the hot shot) would be to not only impact the targets ashore but also create multiple fires in the wooden buildings of that era in Sydney,” he told the Australian Financial Review.
The documents show that King Carlos IV approved the plot after a Spanish expedition arrived in Sydney in 1793, five years after the British established a settlement there. Jose de Bustamante y Guerra, the deputy commander of the Spanish expedition, proposed the idea to the king.
“As a military and naval commander, Bustamante was tasked to both defend South America from an anticipated British invasion and to take the fight to the British in the Pacific,” said Mr Maxworthy.
However, historians say that if Spain had managed to seize the Australian colony, Britain would have quickly recovered it.