Saturday, 1 August 2009

Royal Anglian Regiment Battle Honour: Minden 1759

Seven Years War ..... north Germany ..... 1759 ..... Britain v France (yet again)

On the morning of 1st August 1759 a French army of 51,000, which had been pushing its way up through Germany, crossed the river Weser and prepared to take on the pan-German army under Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick. At the time the Germans and British were the Allies (House of Hanover, the Georges and all that ... makes a nice change to be on the same side) and a British army had been marching up the day before to help out against the French. Legend has it that as the British infantry marched along they picked wild red and yellow roses to decorate their hats and uniforms; roses continue to feature prominently in the Minden Day events still celebrated each year by the successor British regiments and red & yellow are the colours of 1 Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment's (Minden) flash.
Meanwhile, back on the battlefield....... As the two British infantry brigades prepared to engage the enemy one of those peculiarly British things happened: the order "advance on the beat of the drum" was incorrectly interpreted as "advance to the beat of the drum". The two brigades therefore set off prematurely soon to be met by French cannon fire and attack from several French cavalry squadrons. Needless to say the British infantry withstood the charge and eventually drove the French from the battlefield.

A grateful Prince Ferdinand handed out 3,000 crowns to be distributed amongst the British troops (by the way this amount works out considerably more than today's Operational Allowance).

The 12th Foot - later the Suffolk Regiment and now incorporated into the Royal Anglian Regiment - were awarded Minden as a battle honour for their outstanding bravery in withstanding the French cavalry charge and leading the victorious counter-attack which saved the day.

Apparently on the 1st August each year 6 red roses are delivered anonymously to the British Consulate in Chicago with a card commemorating the Battle of Minden and giving the list of 6 British infantry regiments that fought at the battle.

Happy Minden Day! Happy 250th!