This Day In History

1704 War of the Spanish Succession. Anglo-Dutch fleet under Admiral George Rooke, in which detachments of Saunderson’s Regiment (later 30th Foot and then 1st East Lancashires) are serving as Marines, completes the capture of Gibraltar from Spain. The Rock is then ceded to Britain when the Peace of Utrecht brings the war to an end in 1713.
1914
During the morning, German troops invade neutral Belgium. At 2 pm Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey instructs the British Ambassador in Berlin to tell the German Government that unless an assurance to respect Belgian neutrality is received by midnight Central European Time (11 pm in Britain), a state of war would exist between the two countries. At 7 pm the 1st East, 2nd South, and 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiments are ordered to mobilise and prepare to deploy to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force - the Old Contemptibles. At 10.45 pm the King convenes the Privy Council in Buckingham Palace for the purpose of authorising the declaration of war. They wait until 11 pm, and when Big Ben strikes the hour, the country is at war. The vast crowd which has gathered outside Buckingham Palace cheers wildly. 
 
We are funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

Please help by clicking the buttons below.

Please donate

The Salamanca Eagle

 

The French Imperial Eagle of the 22ième Regiment de la Ligne was taken at the Battle of Salamanca, 22 July 1812, by Ensign John Pratt of the 30th Foot.

The Salamanca Eagle on display in the Museum. It is missing its talons, damage which is believed to have been caused when it was captured.

The Salamanca Eagle on display in the Museum. It is missing its talons, damage believed to have been caused when it was captured.

It is the finest and most important military trophy in the possession of the Lancashire Infantry Museum and is listed by the Home Office as a British National Treasure. As such it may not be disposed of or taken out of the country, even temporarily, without Government permission.

The eagle was chosen as the symbol of the Grande Armee by the Emperor Napoleon Buonaparte in 1804. The Eagle bore the same significance to French Imperial regiments as the colours do to British regiments – to lose its Eagle would bring shame to the regiment, which pledged to defend it to the death.

Only Imperial Eagles captured in battle have survived, those still cherished by their original owners being ordered destroyed after the final defeat of Napoleon. Most were captured in Russia or Prussia and were preserved in St Petersburg or Berlin. There is no record of any of these surviving World War II and it is therefore possible that the few held by the British Army are the only examples still in existence.

Pratt’s Eagle, together with another also captured at Salamanca, one more taken at Badajoz, and two found in Madrid, was sent by sea to London by the Duke of Wellington. On arrival they were the centrepieces of a parade called the Deposition of the Eagles, a ceremonial public humiliation held on Horse Guards Parade in front of the Prince Regent.

They were then consigned to Chelsea Hospital where they remained for the next 135 years, being removed only once, in 1852, when for the Iron Duke’s lying in state they were mounted on black poles and placed beside his body in St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Salamanca Eagle was returned ceremonially to the East Lancashire Regiment, successors to the 30th Foot, in 1947.

It now has pride of place on permanent display in the Lancashire Infantry Regiment Museum.

The Salamanca Eagle is ceremonially returned to The East Lancashire Regiment, Chelsea Hospital, 28 September 1947

The Salamanca Eagle is ceremonially returned to The East Lancashire Regiment, Chelsea Hospital, 28 September 1947