However, the last time a hostile foreign power actually landed troops on the British mainland was back in 1797 when a fleet of four French warships landed 1,400 conscript troops on the Welsh coast near Fishguard, with the intention of stirring up a rebellion that would topple the British government.
The plan, drawn up by the French revolutionary authorities and entrusted to a septuagenarian Irish-American called Colonel William Tate, was doomed to failure. With the cream of revolutionary France's troops fighting on the European mainland, the soldiers of the landing force were almost all newly released convicts who were more interested in drinking than furthering the revolution.
As soon as the invasion party had marched into Fishguard, any semblance of discipline crumbled as the jailbirds helped themselves to the town's supply of food and fine wine. A couple of days after the landing the ragtag troops surrendered to a local militia led by Lord Cawdor.
The surrender documents signed by Tate make mention of many hundreds of British redcoats – despite the fact that the nearest regular army soldiers were still many miles away. Local legend has it that the sozzled soldiers mistook the local women (dressed in their traditional scarlet tunics and tall black hats) for British troops. Feeling hopelessly outnumbered (and no doubt a little hungover) they decided to surrender!