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Chapter 5 – THE FRENCH REVOLUTIONARY WAR 1793-1802

81st and 82nd Regiments. In the 1793 war with Revolutionary France found Britain militarily unprepared and additional regiments were hurriedly raised. Two of these were formed in Lincolnshire, largely from militia volunteers. These were the 81st, popularly known as The Loyal Lincoln Volunteers, and the 82nd, who earned the title of The Prince of Wales’s. These subsidiary titles were officially authorised in 1832 and 1831 respectively.

The Mediterranean and Egypt. The first priority on the outbreak of war was to man the Fleet and accordingly the 30th Foot once again became marines, serving in that role for three years which included the defence of Toulon, the capture of Bastia and Calvi in Corsica (under Nelson’s Command) and a navel action off Hieres. In 1798 they returned to the Mediterranean, first to Sicily and then on expeditions to capture Malta, 1800, and to wrest Egypt from the French, 1801. Four flank companies of 40th also took a distinguished part in the latter campaign, including a daring assault landing in Aboukir Bay, and for their part in the victory of Alexandria both Regiments were awarded a Sphinx, superscribed ‘Egypt’, which was incorporated in their Colours and badges.

The West Indies. Urgent reinforcements were also required in the West Indies and the 40th, 47th, 59th, 81st and 82nd all served there. The Regiment saw some action on St Vincent and San Domingo (now Haiti) but the most deadly enemy was disease.

Holland. In Europe the Regiments were involved in several attempts to cooperate with unreliable allies against advancing revolutionary armies. In the 1793 the 40th and the 59th took part in an abortive attempt to assist the French Royalists in the Vendee and the following year the same two Regiments joined the Duke of York’s army in the Low Countries, where they fought a sharp rear guard action near Arnhem and shared in a harsh winter retreat to Bremen. In 1799 two battalions of the 40th were again in Holland where in an otherwise ill-managed campaign they fought a brilliant Regimental action at Alkmaar.

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