DIARY OF A REGIMENT
2nd Battalion – in camp
The battalion has been left shattered in mind and body by the events of the 16th-18th June. Only days before, when the border between Belgium and France was closed, everyone expected they would soon be on the march for the anticipated campaign that would take them to Paris. Now they are indeed on the march for Paris, but with the horror of bloody and costly fighting haunting them.
The first rumours that the French had crossed the border into Belgium began to circulate during the evening of the 15th. The next day the battalion (later joined by their detached light company) found themselves, along with the rest of Halkett’s brigade, hurrying south, finally drawn into the maelstorm of an action at Quatre Bras. They were able to stand firmly in square when other battalions of the brigade broke formation, and later joined the Royal Scots in a forward movement which regained all the territory lost to the French during the day. The cost of this action was four officers wounded, a sergeant (Suttle) and two privates killed, and about forty men wounded or missing. Of the officers, Colonel Hamilton’s wound is considered serious enough to cost him his leg, while Lieutenant Lockwood is not expected to survive a shot to the head
The following day they were obliged to retreat with the rest of the allied army, arriving at Waterloo at about eight o’clock, hungry and soaked to the skin. One man was killed during the retreat, three were wounded, and a further eight were posted missing, although they have since returned.
The 18th was a glorious day for the allied army, but the butcher’s bill was heavy. The battalion, brigaded with the 2nd battalion of the 73rd, held their position in the centre of the line throughout the day, even when under the pressure of repeated cavalry charges and the fire of French guns. The cost was six officers killed, and fifteen wounded. Three sergeants (Ketlin, Gunning, Wilkinson) and thirty-seven other ranks were killed and 202 have been sent to Brussels, wounded. Many of these have little hope of recovery. A further twenty had their wounds dressed on the battlefield.
Already the death toll has mounted. Colour Sergeant Barnwell and three privates were yesterday reported to have died of their wounds.
Of the officers lost, Major Chambers and Captain McNabb had been with the regiment since 1803. Lieutenants Beere and Prendergast had joined as ensigns in 1812, while the two ensigns, James and Bullen, although relative newcomers, had already established their position in the battalion.
Those who had been at Badajoz thought they would never again witness such carnage, but the action of the 18th has overshadowed even that dreadful night of three years ago, and the battalion is trying to come to terms with the pain of bereavement.
1st battalion – Vellore
There is very little to report this month, as the battalion accustoms itself to its new surroundings. There have been five deaths. One corporal has been reduced. Four men are prisoners awaiting trial.
Depot – Colchester
Three men have been sent to Chatham and one to Chelsea for discharge. Ten recruits have joined. One drummer died this month.