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  • 1945 92nd L.A.A, Regt Royal Artillery (formerly 7th Loyals), deployed on the west bank of the Rhine, begins firing on ground targets on the opposite bank in preparation for the Allied crossing of the Rhine at Wesel. 32,000 rounds are fired over the next four days.
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The 30th (Cambridgeshire) Regiment

 

by Carole Divall
A Lancashire Infantry Museum Narrative History

© Lancs Inf Museum & Carole Divall

Spectamur Agendo

On the 27th May 1859 the 30th Foot assembled in Phoenix Park, Dublin for the presentation of new colours by the Countess of Eglinton. In her address, the Countess declared:

‘A century and a half of successful service in every quarter of the globe presents a glorious history in itself, and the high character gained in Egypt, in the Peninsula and at Waterloo, has been maintained on the bloody fields of Alma and Inkerman.

‘To you, Colonel Mauleverer, who have so often bled in the service of your country, and to many more whom I see before me, who have shared in the late triumphs, I beg to offer my tribute of admiration and gratitude. And to those who have yet to win their laurels, I will express my entire confidence that they will prove themselves worthy of the gallant corps in which they enrolled themselves, and that they will defend with their lives the Colours which have now become their own.’

The history of the regiment amply supports the Countesses words. The Old Three Tens travelled widely and saw action on many bloody fields, particularly during three significant European wars: the War of Spanish Succession, the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and the Crimean War.

In The Beginning – Castleton’s Regiment

In 1689 King William III commissioned Sir George Saunderson, of Saxby, Lincolnshire (Viscount Castleton in the Irish peerage) to raise a regiment of foot. Castleton’s regiment, as it was known after its colonel in the tradition of the time, first mustered at York in June 1689, having drawn men from both Yorkshire and Lincolnshire where Sir George had his estates.

William’s accession involved Britain in a protracted French-Dutch war during which Castleton’s Regiment went into action for the first time. Landing in Holland in 1692, they formed part of the garrison holding Namur against the French. After a determined resistance, the garrison was forced to surrender and the regiment went on to form part of an expeditionary force that marched into French-held Flanders and successfully attacked the French lines near d’Ottignies. Finally in June 1685 they returned to Namur. On July 16th Saunderson’s regiment (son having replaced father in command) were in the forefront of the assault on the fortress. The siege of Namur was a baptism of blood, costing the regiment three officers and 80 NCOs and men killed or died of wounds, while a further six officers and 112 NCOs and men were wounded.

Drummer & Private Soldier, Castleton's Regiment, 1689

Drummer & Private Soldier, Castleton’s Regiment, 1689

The Peace of Ryswick ended the war and the regiment was disbanded at Lincoln on the 4th March, 1698.

Reincarnation As Marines

In 1700 Charles II of Spain died childless, leaving a disputed succession. Louis XIV sent his grandson, Philip, Duke of Anjou, to Madrid to be crowned before the Hapsburg claimant could make a move. Thus began the War of Spanish Succession.

Initially, Britain stood aloof, but when James II died in 1701, and Louis acknowledged his son as King of England, Scotland and Wales, Parliament authorised the raising of an extra 40,000 soldiers, plus six regiments of marines. The first of these sea-regiments was Saunderson’s Regiment. Many of the original officers, who were on half-pay, quickly re-joined, as did many of the former soldiers, while further recruits were drawn from Lincolnshire, which remained a fertile recruiting ground for the regiment until the third decade of the 19th Century. There was one significant difference. The resurrected regiment had exchanged the grey and purple uniforms of their predecessors for red coats with yellow facings.

Lincolnshire people are known as yellowbellies, and it has been suggested that the term dates back to this uniform, the first with yellow facings that had any association with the county.

War On Land And Sea

In 1703 the various companies saw service on different ships. The next year eight companies embarked for the Mediterranean. There was some activity off the Spanish and French coasts but the main objective was Gibraltar. In June 1704 the marines, including 393 men of Saunderson’s Regiment, landed and attacked the northern face of the fortress. When this assault was extended against the southern side the governor surrendered. Gibraltar was now held on behalf of the Hapsburg claimant, Charles III.

A rather fanciful representation of Dutch and English marines, including men of Saunderson's Regiment, being rowed ashore to begin the assault on Gibraltar, 1704

A rather fanciful representation of Dutch and English marines, including men of Saunderson’s Regiment, being rowed ashore to begin the assault on Gibraltar, 1704

Early in September 1705 Charles’ supporters attacked the fortress of Montjuich, preparatory to the seizure of Barcelona.  The commander of the expedition, the Prince of Hesse, was killed early on, but the assault continued, with the marines playing a key part. When a fortuitous shot blew up the magazine the defenders of the fortress surrendered. Barcelona was then besieged but here the citizens forced the governor to open the gates.

The French struck back. In January 1706 a party of 400 British and 200 Dutch marines, including six companies of Wills’ Regiment (as it now was) came under attack near Lerida. For two days the allied force held the enemy at bay, finally forcing them to retreat. To add to French discomfiture, they were also thwarted in their attempt to re-take Barcelona.

Other companies of the regiment joined an expedition to take Valencia. Carthagena surrendered, and Alicante was blockaded. On the 23rd June the town suffered a cannonade by land and sea, followed by a successful storm five days later, although the castle continued to hold out. Meanwhile, the remaining six companies went into garrison in Gerona to protect Barcelona. Their petition for active service was refused.

Turn Of The Tide

In 1707, however, the Bourbon claimant, Philip V, gained the upper hand. Some men of the regiment were present at the defeat at Almanza in April, while others were in the castle of Lerida in November when the garrison capitulated to the French. They received honourable terms thanks to the negotiating skills of Colonel Burston of the regiment.

The wreck of Sir Cloudsley Shovell’s flagship, HMS Association, and two other ships off the Scillies on the 24th October 1707 is notable for its place in the history of the accurate measurement longitude – it forced the Government to offer a massive reward for a means of doing so, which eventually led to the development of the first chronometer. Among those lost were an officer and some men of the regiment.

Success In The Mediterranean

Charles III’s attention now shifted from mainland Spain to Sardinia and Minorca. For the British, possession of Port Mahon harbour in Minorca had definite strategic advantages. Sir John Leake commanded the expedition, with Major-General Wills in command of the land forces, which included men of his own regiment. In August a successful landing was made at Cagliari on Sardinia where the townspeople forced the governor to capitulate. The island was immediately proclaimed the possession of Charles III. This success was followed by the surrender of Port Mahon in September, and then the capitulation of the whole of Minorca. Again, the marines played their part.

On mainland Spain, however, the French consolidated their position. When they took Denia in November, among the prisoners were two officers and 49 men of the regiment. Alicante was also lost. The defence lasted four months, even after a French mine caused considerable casualties, including the governor. Eventually the defenders, including men of Wills’ Regiment, were taken off by Admiral Byng.

Further Afield

As so often happened in the colonial era, the conflict extended beyond Europe. An expedition, which included a company of the regiment serving as grenadiers, set sail in May 1710 to take French-held Annapolis, Nova Scotia, a base for raids on New England. In September the grenadiers covered the marines as they landed near Annapolis. When the rest of the force had landed, the marines, with the grenadiers at their head, led the advance on the fort. On the 4th October the French surrendered under the threat of heavy guns.

The view from the fort at Annapolis, Nova Scotia, stormed by a force including Grenadiers from Wills' Regiment in 1706.

The view from the fort at Annapolis, Nova Scotia, stormed by a force including Grenadiers from Wills’ Regiment in 1706.

There was a lighter moment during 1712 when a certain Private William Moore, who had served with the Nova Scotia expedition, was discovered to be a woman. She was discharged at the first port of call.

The war was now drawing to an end but neither side trusted the other as peace terms were negotiated. The regiment, serving with the Channel fleet, was sent to hold Dunkirk as a guarantee of French good faith. Eventually the Treaty of Utrecht brought to an end both the war and the second incarnation of the regiment. Philip V remained in possession of Spain, establishing the Bourbon line. From the British point of view the spoils were Gibraltar, Minorca and Nova Scotia, all places where men of Wills’ Regiment had seen action.

Mutiny 

The only mutiny in the regiment’s history occurred in 1713. The marines had received no money since 1706, so there was already widespread discontent. Indeed, twice in 1713 detachments from the regiment refused to board ships until they received some of the arrears owed to them. In June all the marines were discharged, immediately if on shore, otherwise when they returned to land, and commissioners were appointed to settle arrears of pay. Since no money was forthcoming after the date of the order, General Wills had to borrow £600 for six months subsistence while the commissioners dealt with other regiments, moving from west to east – not helpful to a regiment based in Canterbury. To make matters worse, the men were only to receive 14 days subsistence to get home, the same conditions as the previous disbandment. Then they had been in Lincoln, the centre of the regiment’s recruiting grounds. Now most of them were 200 miles from their homes.

Major General Charles Wills, who borrowed £600 to keep his regiment housed and fed in 1713. Two years later he defeated the 1715 Jacobite invasion on the streets of Preston, Lancashire, at what is known to history as The Preston Fight.

Major General Charles Wills, who borrowed £600 to keep his regiment housed and fed in 1713. Two years later he defeated the 1715 Jacobite invasion on the streets of Preston, Lancashire, at what is known to history as The Preston Fight.

The commissioners finally arrived in December and immediately settled with the junior company, but proceeded no further. On the 24th the men of the other companies, led by their sergeants, assembled under arms. They then marched for London, leaving a deputation to discuss their grievances with the commissioners. Two days later they were in Greenwich, where they found quarters in the neighbourhood – and peaceably handed over their arms.

All the officers, including Wills, were threatened with court martial for not preventing the mutiny. It was also suggested that the few men who had stayed in Canterbury should be paid off, whereupon the regiment would be disbanded to prevent the mutineers receiving any money.

However, a petition which pointed out their ill-treatment after years of faithful service had some effect and the commissioners were ordered to pay all the men. The three ringleaders, long-serving sergeants with distinguished records, were charged with riot and misdemeanour, whereupon the other NCOs promptly requested to share their colleagues’ imprisonment as a collective confession of guilt. Beyond this no record survives of the final outcome, but the following year the three sergeants received their arrears and 14 days bounty.

Thus ended the only challenge to authority in the regiment’s long history.

The 30th Regiment of the Line 

The accession of the first Hanoverian sovereign, George I, in 1714 saw renewed Jacobite activity and a need for more troops. The regiment was again re-founded, taking its position as the 30th in the Line. (It did not acquire its territorial appellation as the Cambridgeshire regiment until 1782.)

The 30th was sidelined during the Jacobite crises of 1715 and 1745.There was some service in the Mediterranean (Minorca 1718, Gibraltar 1727 and 1763-1771), in  France (Lorient 1746, Belleisle 1761), and at a naval action off Cape Finisterre (1747) before they sailed to the American colonies in 1781, late participants in the War of American Independence.

17 officers and 310 men of Wills' Regiment  were serving as Marines aboard 11 of Admiral Anson's ships when he inflicted a decisive defeat on the French at the Battle of Finisterre, 3 May 1747

17 officers and 310 men of Wills’ Regiment were serving as Marines aboard 11 of Admiral Anson’s ships when he inflicted a decisive defeat on the French at the Battle of Finisterre, 3 May 1747

The Battle of Eutaw Springs

By the time the 30th was involved, any hope of defeating the Colonists, by now enjoying the support of the French, Spanish and Dutch, was fading fast. Some men of the regiment, however, were involved in the culminating action of a campaign to end the British presence in South Carolina, the Battle of Eutaw Springs, which took place on the 8th September 1781.

Colonel Nathaniel Greene aimed to drive the British out of their last stronghold, Charleston, but was forced to rest his exhausted army. Colonel Alexander Stewart (or Stuart), in command of the British force, advanced his troops, which included the flank companies of the 30th, against Greene. He encamped at Eutaw Springs and on the morning of the 8th he sent out foragers. These were soon discovered and taken prisoner. Greene now advanced on the British but they were in position to receive him and quickly took the offensive. They charged the American lines, easily breaking the first, and then breaking the second after a fiercer struggle. When American regular reinforcements came up, however, the British were driven back to their encampment.

The result of this advance should have been a rout, but the Americans tried to take a brick house held by a British battalion. Not only were the colonists driven off but they also collapsed into disorder. In this condition the rest of the British force was able to turn the tables and force the enemy to withdraw.

Battle of Eutaw Springs

Battle of Eutaw Springs

Eutaw Springs was a particularly bloody affair for which both sides claimed victory, although Stewart held the field. It proved to be the last major action in the south. The British surrender at Yorktown on the 19th October signalled the end of the war.

The French now turned their attention to British possessions in the West Indies. The 30th was one of the regiments sent to defend British interests there, sailing to St Lucia, Jamaica and Antigua before settling on Domenica in March 1784. Here they stayed until February 1791, seeing nothing of the French but employed in the suppression of two slave uprisings.

Soldiers At Sea: Toulon 

By 1791 the whole of Europe was on a knife edge. The increasingly extreme position adopted by the revolutionaries in France threatened the stability of the whole continent. The government anticipated the inevitable war as a naval struggle. The Navy needed marines; once more the men of the 30th found themselves at sea with both the Channel and the Mediterranean fleets. The four companies serving with Hood’s Mediterranean fleet landed at Toulon in August 1793 to aid a Royalist uprising. This important French naval port was already under Anglo-Spanish blockade and for the rest of the year British, Spanish, Piedmontese and Neapolitan soldiers joined the Royalists in their struggle against a Republican army. Initially things went well but on September 16th a certain Captain Napoleone Buonaparte (as he was then known) took command of the Republican artillery and put the allies under increasing pressure. On December 17th the Republicans launched an early morning attack on Fort Mulgrave.

French Revolutionaries attack Fort Mulgrave during the Siege of Toulon

French Revolutionaries attack Fort Mulgrave during the Siege of Toulon

Lieutenant General Dundas later wrote: ‘Captain Connolly 18th Regiment abandoned the post entrusted to his care, at the moment he saw the British and Spanish picquets retire into Fort [Mulgrave] and the command devolved on Capt Vaumorel of the 30th Regt, but on the enemy entering on the Spanish side, the British quarter commanded by Capt Vaumorel of the 30th Regt could not much longer be maintained, notwithstanding several gallant efforts were made for that purpose. It was therefore at last carried, and the remains of the garrison of 700 men (Spaniards) retired towards the shore…’ Dundas speculated that Captain Vaumorel, Lieutenant Cuyler, five sergeants, three drummers and 140 rank and file ‘fell before day-break, gallantly defending the post they were entrusted with, when abandoned by other troops.’

In fact, the men of the 30th had been forced to surrender when deserted by the Spanish who, according to Vaumorel, offered only a feeble defence. They remained prisoners of war for 20 months, well-treated by the their Republican captors.

During an action on October 15th Sergeant Samuel Bircham, aged 24, and another sergeant brought a detachment to safety under Republican fire after all the officers had been killed or wounded. He was rewarded with a commission, rose to Major in the regiment, and finished his career as Lieutenant Colonel of a Ceylon regiment.

Corsica

The remaining men of the 30th returned to their ships, and a month later were fighting to take Corsica from the French. In this expedition Lieutenant Alexander Hamilton led a successful assault on the town and citadel of Mortello, which surrendered on February 10th. Bastia was starved into submission and Calvi became the next objective. The 30th were involved in the road-building which enabled Captain Horatio Nelson to bring heavy artillery against the strongly fortified town. The defenders finally surrendered on August 10th, when Corsica fell into British hands.

While some men remained with the Mediterranean fleet, and later fought with Jervis’s fleet at Cape St Vincent, the rest of the regiment was in Ireland. Stationed at Bandon, they were well away from the trouble centres of the rebellion of 1798.

Soldiers of the 30th Foot served as Marines at the Battle of Cape St Vincent 1797, the great naval victory won by Admiral Sir John Jervis

Soldiers of the 30th Foot served as Marines at the Battle of Cape St Vincent 1797, the great naval victory won by Admiral Sir John Jervis

With Abercromby To Egypt

The following year the 30th were reunited into one force, joining Sir Thomas Graham’s expedition to Malta, which was in French hands. By 1800 the French had withdrawn to Valletta. Early in September the flank companies of the 30th, with detachments from the 25th and 89th, stormed Fort Riscali, a vital point in the defences of the town, the loss of which led the French to surrender.

So far the 30th had only been involved in sideshows against revolutionary France, but they now formed part of the expedition under the command of General Abercromby that was destined to drive the French army out of Egypt. After practising landing manoeuvres in Mamorice Bay, Abercromby’s army landed at Aboukir Bay on March 8th, 1801. On March 21st General Menou, in command at Alexandria with 10,000 men, attempted to drive the British from their advanced positions. Abercromby received a fatal wound in this action but the French were comprehensively defeated and retreated behind their defences.

Contemporary map showing the stages of the British campaign against the French at Alexandria, in all of which the 30th participated.

Contemporary map showing the stages of the British campaign against the French at Alexandria, in all of which the 30th participated.

General Hutchinson, who was now in command, decided to blockade the city with half his force, while the other half marched to Cairo, which was held by the rest of the French army. The 30th were involved in this uncomfortable advance, across desert with the kamsin blowing. Gizeh was invested on June 21st and General Belliard, in command at Cairo, surrendered six days later. After another difficult march, the two parts of the army were reunited, allowing Hutchinson to devise a two-pronged attack on Alexandria. In the ensuing action the 30th, under Lieutenant Colonel Lockhart, showed great gallantry.

General Doyle, in whose brigade the 30th served, wrote in brigade order that he ‘wished to return his best thanks to Lieut-Colonel Lockhart and the officers and men of the 30th Regiment for their gallant conduct in charging and putting to rout a superior force of the enemy and he has the pleasure to acquaint the Corps that their spirited behaviour has met the most marked approbation of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief.’

Menou now entered into peace negotiations and finally surrendered on August 17th. By spring 1802 the regiment was back in England, just as the Peace of Amiens brought the Revolutionary Wars to an end.

To commemorate its gallant part in the campaign, in 1802 the 30th was awarded the distinction of carrying a Sphinx, inscribed with the word 'Egypt', on their 'colours, badges and appointments.' In time it became the crest of the East Lancashire Regiment. This silver Sphinx, commissioned by the officers of the Regiment, was kept in the Officers Mess for over a century, and is now displayed in the Museum

To commemorate its gallant part in the campaign, in 1802 the 30th was awarded the distinction of carrying a Sphinx, inscribed with the word ‘Egypt’, on their ‘colours, badges and appointments.’ In time it became the crest of the East Lancashire Regiment. This silver Sphinx, commissioned by the officers of the Regiment, was kept in the Officers Mess for over a century, and is now displayed in the Museum

A Second Battalion

By May 1803 Britain was again at war with France. During the short period of peace the government, in traditional manner, had reduced the size of the army. Now this was put into reverse and the 30th became one of many regiments to acquire a second battalion. After mustering at Chelmsford in October, the two battalions sailed to Ireland, where both remained until the autumn of 1805, when the 1st Battalion joined an expedition to North Germany. This was finally aborted in February 1806, with the collapse of the Third Coalition, and two months later the battalion received orders to proceed to India. Thus the most experienced men of the regiment marched out of the war.

On the 16th December 1805 the convoy taking the expedition to Germany sailed into a violent storm. The four officers, 115 men, 12 women, 5 children, a baby born during the night and 11 sailors aboard the transport, Jenny, found themselves beached at Gravelines. For nine long years they were prisoners of war, until Napoleon fell in 1814. A year later many of the men had the satisfaction of fighting at Waterloo.

The Peninsular War

The 2nd Battalion remained in Ireland until March 1809, when they sailed to Lisbon, and were immediately transferred to Gibraltar. Subsequently they were part of the force defending Cadiz, which was under siege. Finally they joined Wellington’s army in Portugal.

Having served with the 5th Division on the Lines of Torres Vedras, and taken part in the harrying of Marshal Masséna back to Spain, the 2nd Battalion then played a minor part in the Battle of Fuentes de Õnoro (May 1811). Their year of glory, however, was 1812. They were only part of the covering force at Ciudad Rodrigo, but Badajoz (April 6th) was a different story. The 5th Division created a diversion by escalading the San Vicente bastion and their success meant they were the first men into the town. This achievement came at a cost though: one officer (Major Grey), two sergeants, three corporals and 24 privates killed; five men died of wounds; six officers and 94 NCOs and other ranks wounded.

The 30th storming the walls at Badajoz

The 30th storming the walls at Badajoz

Success at Badajoz was followed by the crushing victory of Salamanca (July 22nd) when the steady advance of the 5th Division across the plain, coupled with the attack of the 3rd Division and the heavy cavalry settled the issue, even though the French rallied and fought a courageous withdrawal.

It was at Salamanca that the Imperial Eagle of the 22ieme   Regiment de la Ligne came into the possession of Ensign John Pratt, of the 30th.  It is now the most prized possession of the Lancashire Infantry Museum, where it is displayed in a place of honour.

The Salamanca Eagle, taken by Ensign Pratt of the 30th, and now the Museum's most treasured possession

The Salamanca Eagle, taken by Ensign Pratt of the 30th, and now the Museum’s most treasured possession

On the 16th August the British marched in triumph into Madrid. Finally, as Wellington’s army retreated, frustrated and dispirited after failure at Burgos, the 5th Division held a position on the River Carrion at Villamuriel for most of the day against the forces of General Maucune, thus allowing the rest of the army to withdraw in safety (October 26th).

According to Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton, ‘The 30th and 44th did rather a dashing thing when they advanced in line against seventeen pieces of cannon, cleared the adjoining village, and took more prisoners than their own force was composed of.’

Out Of The War

Illness and, to a lesser extent, action had weakened the 2/30th to the point where they could only function effectively as a provisional battalion with the equally weakened 2/44th, after the weaker men of both battalions had been sent home. In May 1813 Wellington was forced to give up the weakest of his provisional battalions by order of the Duke of York, Commander-in-Chief of the Army, and so the 2nd Battalion returned to England. They joined their comrades, and a large number recruits, on the island of Jersey, a pleasant place for recuperation. Seemingly, their days of active service were over but significantly, an inspection in November considered them “fit for duty in the field”.

With General Graham In Flanders

By the end of 1813 Napoleon was under threat from the east (Russia, Prussia, Austria) and the south (Wellington’s Anglo-Iberian army). When the Dutch rose against the French in November, the allies were afforded a new line of attack. As part of an Anglo-Prussian campaign Sir Thomas Graham brought an expedition, which eventually included the 2/30th, to Flanders. The main military event of the campaign, the attempt to take Bergen-op-Zoom, ended in disaster. The veterans of the 30th grumbled that it might have been different if they had taken part. Instead, they occupied gun positions on the Scheldt as Antwerp was blockaded.

While most of the battalion were on their way to Flanders, a detachment of men who had remained in the Peninsula, along with women, children and French prisoners of war, were aboard the Queen, anchored at Falmouth. In the early hours of January 31st a violent storm blew up, wrecking the ship at Trefusis Point. Over 250 people were lost, including five men of the 30th. Lieutenant Daniell of the regiment suffered the greatest loss; his wife and all five of his children.

Memorial in Mylor Churchyard, Cornwall, to the memory of those who died in the wreck of the Queen

Memorial in Mylor Churchyard, Cornwall, to the memory of those who died in the wreck of the Queen

Waterloo

The campaign in Flanders ended with Napoleon’s first abdication and exile to Elba. The 2/30th was still in Flanders, however, when nine months later the Emperor staged his daring attempt to regain power. The battalion became the senior, and only experienced, unit in Halkett’s British Brigade, Alten’s 3rd Division. On the 16th June they made a hurried march to Quatre Bras, where Marshal Ney was holding the Anglo-Dutch force while Napoleon defeated the Prussians at Ligny.

Although the situation stabilised with the steady arrival of reinforcements, Halkett’s brigade suffered a catastrophe when attacked by cuirassiers and lancers. The 2/69th were rolled up. The 33rd and 2/73rd took refuge in nearby woods. Only the 2/30th formed square and repelled the cavalry, but only the 2/30th had been in the Peninsula!   

The 17th was a miserable day for the men of the allied army as they retreated in parallel with the Prussians, who had been defeated at Ligny. The heat of the previous day gave way to an incessant downpour and the soldiers arrived at the battlefield which would become known as Waterloo cold, wet and hungry.

For the 2/30th the action on the 18th started late. Hougoumont was under assault and d’Erlon’s column had attacked the allied left (and been repulsed) before Ney launched the cavalry attacks which brought Alten’s division fully into the battle. In square with the 2/73rd, the battalion withstood wave after wave of horsemen, taking casualties but never wavering. Worse was to come when La Haie Sainte, in the centre of the allied position, had to be abandoned, enabling the French to bring their guns forward. Five of the six officer casualties were killed during this late stage of the battle. The arrival of the Prussians helped to ease the pressure. The defeat of the Imperial Guard ensured victory.

In square at Waterloo, the 2/30th and 2/72rd hurled back wave after wave of French cavalry. From a painting by David Cartwright

In square at Waterloo, the 2/30th and 2/73rd hurled back wave after wave of French cavalry. From a painting by David Cartwright

This final defeat of Napoleon signalled the end of the 2nd Battalion. By the beginning of 1816 they were once more in Ireland. In April of the following year the order came for disbandment.

Lieutenant Macready wrote in his journal: “This brave corps…will be remembered as long as the names of Fuentes de Onoro, Badajoz, Salamanca, Muriel, Quatre Bras and Waterloo are emblazoned in the highest pages of British achievement.”

India – Heat, Tedium and Arrack

While the junior battalion had been winning battle honours, the senior battalion had been suffering the frustration of service in India. There had been some brief activity as marines in 1807, but it was not until the survivors of the 2nd Battalion, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton, joined them that they saw any other action. In the meantime they suffered from heat and tedium, and discipline broke down under the effect of arrack.

In 1819 they were involved in an expedition against the deposed Rajah of Nagpore and his Pindaree supporters, anxious to strike against the power of the East India Company. This uprising culminated in an attack on the dauntingly strong fortress of Asseerghur, which was taken on the 9th March.  The 30th, along with the Royal Scots, was praised by General Doveton, in command, for exemplary conduct which reflected “the most distinguished credit on their several commanding officers, as well as the whole of the officers and men composing those detachments.”

For many decades the Asseerghur Gong was kept and used in the Regimental Guardroom. It is now on display in the Museum

For many decades the Asseerghur Gong was kept and used in the Regimental Guardroom. It is now on display in the Museum

In the following nine years, before their departure for Europe, they saw no further action. The period between June 1829, when the regiment landed at Chatham, and May 1854, when they embarked for the Crimea, saw them serving in Ireland, Bermuda, Canada, Ireland again, England (including being inspected by the Duke of Wellington in 1850), Greece and Gibraltar. There was no action, however, an indication of the peace that Waterloo had brought to Europe.

The Crimean War

Russia had long been encroaching on the fringes of the Ottoman Empire when the 30th joined other British units, and a larger French force, in an attempt to stem this aggression. Initially the Regiment was in garrison but in August it became part of the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Division. A month later, as senior regiment they led the division into action at the Battle of the Alma. A hard-fought victory drove the Russians into Sevastopol, but this success was not followed up.

Inkerman

In mid-October the allies began their attack of Sevastopol. On the 26th a Russian sortie put the 2nd Division, at Inkerman, under pressure. The 1st Division, a division of Guards, a Rifle battalion and five French divisions marched up in support. This infantry advance, and the fire of eighteen guns posted on higher ground, brought about the collapse of the Russian attack in an action which has become known as Little Inkerman.

Ten days later the Russians launched a more serious attack on the allied position at Inkerman in response to which the 30th, under the command of Colonel Mauleverer, successfully charged the head of a Russian column with the bayonet. For this action, Adjutant and Lieutenant Walker, who led the attack with Mauleverer, was awarded the Victoria Cross. The battle lasted 11 hours, at which point the Russians finally withdrew. This action marked the last Russian attempt to break out of Sevastopol.

The Battle of Inkerman

The Battle of Inkerman

There followed for the allies the severe hardship of a Crimean winter, gross mismanagement by the command and all the discomfort of trench warfare. In June 1855, however, a first, failed attempt was made to take the Redan. On this occasion the 30th were in reserve. They were then involved in a second attempt, on the 8th August, which also failed, although the French took the Malekoff and obliged the Russians to abandon the south side of Sevastopol. By the 11th September the siege was over when the Russians abandoned the whole position.

By the spring of 1856 the combatants were sufficiently war-weary to consider an armistice, which became a formal peace on the 30th March. By May the 30th were back in Gibraltar, from whence they had sailed two years before.

Marching Into History

During the following 25 years of the regiment’s existence they continued their global perambulation, to Ireland, England, Canada, back to Ireland and England and finally in 1880 to India. The following year rumours of radical changes to the structure of the army found their way into newspapers. These were confirmed in July when the last stage of Cardwell’s army reforms was implemented. The 30th and 59th became, respectively, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the East Lancashire Regiment, bringing to an end the independent existence of the Old Three Tens,  just eight years short of the bicentenary of its first formation.  Throughout the existence of the East Lancashire Regiment, however, the historical identification of the 1st Battalion with the old 30th Foot was preserved  wherever and whenever officialdom permitted.

In turn, the East Lancashire Regiment was amalgamated with other regiments as the age-old process of consolidation within the British Army continued. Today its history and achievements, including those of the Old Three Tens, have been inherited by The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

This article has been specially written for us by noted Napoleonic Wars historian and author Carole Divall, who has made a special study of and knows more about the 30th Regiment of Foot than anyone else alive. For more detailed information about the regiment, go to her website at http://www.caroledivall.co.uk/home/