Latham Centrepiece


Latham Centrepiece

This is one of three Latham centrepieces held by the Regiment; one is with the 2nd Battalion; one with the 3rd Battalion and the third was gifted by The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) to the National Army Museum. This third piece is currently on loan and can be seen in the Beanie Museum, Canterbury, where several items of The Buffs are also on display.

The Colours, The King’s/Queens’s or Sovereign's Colour and The Regimental Colour, were taken into battle to act as a rally point for soldiers in battle. For the enemy, they are seen as prime targets for attack. Both of these Colours are the pride of the Battalion, for which any officer or soldier would die before they were lost.

The centrepiece depicts Lieutenant Latham who had taken up the King’s Colour when the Ensign (officer responsible for The King’s Colour) was wounded by gun fire, at the Battle of Albuhera in 1811. Latham himself has already been slashed by the French Hussars.

The King’s Colour was later returned after being found by a Fusilier inside the tunic of a hideously gored and apparently dead officer, Lieutenant Latham. He had been swamped by French Hussars who attacked him mercilessly, but they could not wrench the staff from his grip. He survived, losing one arm, which a surgeon removed. The crevice caused by a sword slash across his nose and cheek was staunched but Latham was hideously disfigured. After the battle his fellow officers presented him with a gold medal. The King, on meeting Latham back in England and hearing of his heroism paid for, what in those days was cutting edge surgery, to restore his features.

The silver centrepieces depicting this deed are among the most prized of the Regiment's possessions.

There is also a copy of this piece located at: