A period of peace followed, during which time Minorca was returned to Spain by the British. Saumarez superintended the orderly evacuation

Bombardment of Granville

In 1803 hostilities with France were resumed. It was feared that Bonaparte intended to invade the Channel Islands, given the extent of preparation being carried on at St Malo and Granville.

Saumarez had six frigates and six brigs and cutters under his command. He was closely involved with preparing the defence of the islands, including one occasion when he landed men on the South coast of Guernsey to test the supposed inaccessibility of a particular point on the cliffs. Ross narrates how: “… Sir James proposed that the seamen should be landed, and ordered to ascend what appeared to be a precipice; when, to the astonishment of the General (Sir John Doyle), the whole body of men mounted to the top with apparent ease…”. At about this time a large flotilla of armed vessels had gathered at Granville, just 54 miles from Guernsey and 30 miles from Jersey. Their purpose was either to invade the islands or England. Sir James took his squadron, anchored on 14th September 1803 as near to Granville as the tide would permit, and bombarded the harbour for fully six hours. He attacked again on the following day.

Between 1804 and 1806, and therefore during the period that the battle of Trafalgar was fought off Cadiz, Saumarez remained in command at Guernsey. Saumarez frequently corresponded with Nelson; indeed shortly before Trafalgar he had sent a supply of wine to Nelson who wrote and thanked him just three days before his death. They were well known to each other.

A single incident characterises Saumarez’s experience at this time. A 200 ton French brig had been driven on to the shore in the Bay of Dielette, adjacent to Alderney. The vessel had been repaired and was nearly ready to be re-launched. A cutter from Saumarez’s squadron was sent, the men landed, defeated the guard party and destroyed the brig. It is fair to say that Saumarez’s defence of the Channel Islands contributed to the defeat of Napoleon’s invasion plans for England although it was Trafalgar which “…at once put an end to all the speculations of the ruler of France” (see Ross).