The Story of the Peninsular War Medals of Privates Hammond and Holloway from The Die-Hards Journals
I have recently found correspondence in the Die-Hards journals relating to the origins of the Peninsular War medal incorporated into the
Albuhera Loving Cup. It would appear that Private Hammond's medal was the first to be incorporated in the Cup in 1873, but then in 1885 Private Holloway was discovered and he may then have been the oldest and last living survivor of the Battle of Albuhera. Like Hammond, he also bequeathed his medal to the Regiment, so when he died in 1886, Hammond's medal must have been swapped with Holloway's. A check was made of the National Army Museum online to see if Hammond's medal had gone there from Bruce Castle when it closed in 1992, but it is not listed. However, there is a replica of Holloway's medal!
What follows is a transcript from the journals. – R Gancz
LINKS WITH THE PAST
The following is an extract from a letter published in The Times of 19th August last: —
“ A Link with Albuhera,”
“In the autumn of 1885 the 1st Middlesex Regiment (formerly the 57th Foot) marched from Dover to Lydd for field firing. En route, during a temporary halt of the battalion, an aged blind man was brought by his elderly daughter to the commanding officer, and it was then discovered that he had fought at the battle of Albuhera, over 74 years previously, at which engagement the battalion earned its name of the ‘Die-hards.’ The veteran’s Peninsular medal, with Albuhera and other bars, has been incorporated in a loving cup that forms part of the officers’ mess plate, and is used for drinking the toast to the fallen on May 11 every year.—Mr.Charles S. Burdon, Albuhera, Derwent Road, N .13.”
As it was known that there were Old Comrades still living who were present on parade on this occasion, endeavours were made to obtain fuller details. The following letter from Mr. A. Stephens is therefore of much interest: —
30th August, 1935.
Re your letter and enclosed copy, dated 27th August, 1935, the medal incorporated to the veteran mentioned, as it was bequeathed to the Regiment when stationed on the Curragh Camp, 1873, by the late Pte. Hammond, 57th Regiment, who had fought at the Battle of Albuhera, whose medal was sent to London to be incorporated in the loving cup. I happened to be present when my father, who was employed in the Officers’ Mess, unpacked the cup and medal on being completed and returned. General A. A. Garstin I am sure can vouch for my statement, who, I believe, is the only officer left who served at the Curragh Camp.
The Regiment marched from Dover to Lydd for musketry training about the 1st July, 1885. On passing through Dymchurch we were halted. A number of people gathered around, when an old man asked one of the Battalion what Regiment it was. The man replied the 1st Middlesex; the veteran replied that he had served with the 57th West Middlesex, and fought at Albuhera. The information was passed on to the C.O., Col. Picot, who was in temporary command. Instructions were given to Cpl. Millar (Pompy) to get a cab and conduct the veteran to where we encamped for the night. He was entertained to dinner in the Officers’ Mess, and afterwards sent home. During the stay in Lydd a subscription was raised by everyone in the Battalion giving a day’s pay according to rank. It had been ascertained that he was only in receipt of 4d. per diem pension. On the return march to Dover the Battalion was halted in Dymchurch, and formed into line in open order. The veteran was conducted down the front and up the rear ranks. When he passed around the Band he pointed out the trombone, and said he played that instrument in the Band. So the statement that he was blind was incorrect. He was accompanied by his daughter. The amount subscribed was handed over to the Chairman of the Council to be doled out to him as considered necessary. In the meantime application was made to the War Office, and his pension increased to 1s. per diem. Our next Albuhera dinner took place at Aldershot, 16th May, 1886. The veteran was to have attended it, but, unfortunately, he died before the event. If he had been alive to attend he would have seen the Colours under which he fought at Albuhera, which were lent for that occasion by General Inglis, the son of the Colonel who commanded at Albuhera. An escort was sent to receive them at Farnborough Station, Aldershot.
I attended a banquet at Dover about five years ago, when I sat with a gentleman who had been postmaster at Dymchurch. When he heard that I had served in the Middlesex, he inquired if I was present when the Regiment passed through Dymchurch in 1885. I informed him that I was.
He told me that he had a copy of the newspaper giving the account of the meeting of the old veteran with his old Regiment, also the ceremony carried out, and the presentation of the amount subscribed. I asked for a loan of the paper to take a copy of it, and he promised to let me have it. He must have forgot, as I never received it, or met him again. It was apparently an incident for me to receive your letter at Whitstable, where I am on a visit to my son, Capt. R. Stephens. I was on the point of going to Canterbury to see the South Africans play Kent at cricket. It was fifty years ago I was present with the Band of the Regiment, who came from Lydd to play at Canterbury Cricket Week on August Bank Holiday, 1885.
I expected to meet a friend at Canterbury who might have been able to give me the retired postmaster’s address if he is alive. If possible, I will try and get in communication for the paper. Trusting this will meet your requirements,
http://queensregimentalassociation.org/pdfs/volume-5/vol-5-6.pdf - pages 380 & 381
6th January, 1936.
To the Editor of “ The Die-Hards.’’
Permit me, through the columns of your much-read journal, to offer my con¬gratulations to Mr. Stephens for his contribution in your November issue re an incident at Dymchurch in 1885. His clear and very accurate account brought back memories of an event which I well remember. I was present with the Regiment on that memorable occasion. We were, as he states, on our way to Camp Lydd for a course of musketry. I saw the old man referred to in his paragraph, and for his years he had still a nice military appearance, and it was quite easy to distinguish him from amongst his civilian friends around him.
He was delighted when he ascertained that we were his old regiment in which he had served. He received the hearty congratulations of all ranks, and I can well remember his great excitement when he heard the word Die-Hard mentioned during the interview. But let me say here, it is a word that all 57th men feel proud of. Then again, I remember our deep regret when we had learned that he had passed away before 16th May (Albuhera Day).
Now, in conclusion, permit me to compliment Mr. Stephens on his clever article which, in fact, refreshed my memory and brought back vivid recollections of my earliest service with the Colours.
Die Hards Journal - page 448
To go to the Loving Cup