Based on extracts from- A short history of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, 1741-1922 for the young soldiers of the Regiment. By R.B. Crosse
Battle honours gained:- Waterloo.
The 1st Battalion 43rd arrived in England in July, 1814, and was quartered at Plymouth, being there joined by its 2nd Battalion from Hythe.
The 1st Battalion 52nd came home a few days earlier, to be quartered at Hythe and Chatham, where the Regiment received new arms and equipment. The 2nd Battalion, which had gone to Holland in December, 1813, was at Brussels in May, June, and July of 1814, in August at Antwerp, in September at Tournai, and in November at Ypres, where the 52nd fought and was billeted just a hundred years later. From Ypres the 2nd Battalion marched to Grammont, where in April, 1815, it transferred its effectives to the 1st Battalion, and returned home.
On October l0th, 1814, the 1st Battalion 43rd embarked for America, not arriving until December 31st, but in time to be present at the attack on New Orleans, which, however, failed. Operations ceased in January, 1815, but the 43rd did not land in England till June 1st, to be at once made up to 1,100 men for service in Belgium. The Regiment, having re-embarked on the 16th, only reached Ostend on the 19th, or the day after Waterloo, and joined the Duke of Wellington's Army on the march to Paris.
On January 4th, 1815, the 1st Battalion 52nd embarked at Portsmouth for Cork, where reinforcements for the garrison of North America were assembling. Two attempts were made to put to sea, but on each occasion a heavy gale drove the ships back to harbour, and before the third attempt news arrived of Napoleon having escaped from Elba and landed in France, and the force was recalled to Plymouth. Here, on March 22nd, the Regiment arrived, to sail again at once, landing at Ostend on the 26th, and marching to Brussels and then to Grammont. Here, during April, the two Battalions of the Regiment were together.
May, 1815, found the 1st Battalion 52nd at full strength, doing intensive training in billets near Mons, in General Clinton's (2nd) Division, forming, with the 71st (now 1st Battalion Highland Light Infantry), and the 2nd Battalion 95th, a light brigade under Major-General Adam. On June 14th it was known that Napoleon was advancing on Brussels, where British General Headquarters then were, and on the 16th, as the Regiment was parading about 9.30 a.m., an order was received to be at a starting point on the road to Ath at 10a.m. Napoleon was then attacking the British at Quatre Bras, and as the Regiment tramped along in pouring rain gun-fire could be distinctly heard. This, said an old Peninsular soldier, in reply to a question by a recruit, was the noise of "Napoleon shaking his blankets." At 11.30 p.m., wet through, the Regiment reached Braine-le-Comte, fifteen miles from Quatre Bras, but at 2 a.m. the next day (Saturday) moved another eight miles to Nivelles, left there again at 11a.m. for the field of Waterloo, and halted for the night in a ploughed field near the village of Merbe Braine, in extreme discomfort.
Shortly before noon on Sunday, June 18th, the great battle began, but the 52nd, with the rest of Adam's brigade was in reserve and took little part in it, except to have some casualties by shell-fire, until about 3 p.m., when the brigade was moved forward and formed in squares of battalions, or in the case of the 52nd of wings (half-battalions), in which formation the brigade was alternately shelled and charged by cavalry until withdrawn about 6.30 p.m. A little later the brigade was brought forward again near to Hougoumont and on the right of Maitland's Brigade of Guards.
It was then that Colonel Colborne became aware that Napoleon, making his final bid for victory, had committed his Grand Reserve, the veterans of the Imperial Guard, to the attack, and that this column was drawing near. On his own initiative, and without waiting for orders, lest the opportunity be lost, the Officer Commanding the 52nd took the Regiment forward in line, wheeled it obliquely to the French columns, paused under cover to allow a few seconds breathing space, and then, as the bugles sounded the charge, the Regiment bore down upon, broke and routed single-handed the best soldiers of France, and for the first time on that memorable day put victory beyond doubt; for immediately afterwards came the Duke's order: " The whole line will advance," and the British Army, led by the 52nd, swept across the field, pushing on until the arrival of the Prussians to continue the pursuit.
In the farm buildings of Rossomme, where Napoleon's headquarters had been, the Regiment lay down for the night, and marched next morning with the rest of the Army towards Paris, into which Adam's Brigade entered on July 7th.
The casualties of the Regiment in the battle of June18th, were 38 killed, and 168 wounded, of whom several died later.
During the next three years both the 43rd and 52nd served in the Army of Occupation, being quartered at various places well known to the 52nd one hundred years later, such as (43rd) Bapaume, Cambrai, and Valenciennes, and (52nd) Therouanne, Racquingham, and Valenciennes. In November, 1818, both Regiments returned home—the 43rd to Canterbury and then Belfast, the 52nd to Uxbridge and then Chester, Liverpool, and the Isle of Man. The 2nd Battalions were disbanded—of the 52nd in 1816, and of the 43rd in 1817.
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