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A good Waterloo Medal 1815, fitted with original steel clip and modified straight bar suspension, awarded to Guardsman William Lucas, 2nd Battalion, 1st Foot Guards - the Grenadier Guards, who was a sailor from Axmouth, Devon. Lucas then took part...

£2,750.00
Availability: IN STOCK
Product ID: CMA/30326
Condition: slightly polished, some contact wear and edge bruising, Very Fine.
Description:

A good Waterloo Medal 1815, fitted with original steel clip and modified straight bar suspension, awarded to Guardsman William Lucas, 2nd Battalion, 1st Foot Guards - the Grenadier Guards, who was a sailor from Axmouth, Devon. Lucas then took part during the Waterloo Campaign, and would have been present at both the Battle of Quatre Bras on 16th June and the Battle of Waterloo on 18th June 1815. At Waterloo he would almost certainly have been present at the climactic confrontation and repulse of the famed Grenadiers of Napoleon's Imperial Guard. Wellington shouted to the commander of the Guards Brigade - 'Now Maitland. Now's your time!' When the Guards sprang to their feet they were in four ranks. The front rank opened fire, killing 300 Frenchmen. The other ranks repeated this, combined with a barrage of grapeshot from the artillery, the Imperial Guard wavered and tried to fall back. Then Lord Saltoun led a charge of the 1st Guards which routed their French counterparts. Lucas was served with the Newgate Guards at Dublin, Ireland, when he was found to be drunk on duty on the evening of 7th October 1826, and having been sentenced to receive two hundred lashes, had this sentence carried out on 10th February 1826. He was then discharged due to bad character shortly afterwards in January 1827.

Waterloo Medal 1815, fitted with a modified silver clip and straight bar suspension; (WILLIAM LUCAS, 2ND BATT. GRENAD. GUARDS.)


Condition: slightly polished, some contact wear and edge bruising, Very Fine.

William Lucas was born in Axmouth, Devon, and having worked as a sailor, no doubt as part of the fishing fleet that emerged from the mouth of the River Axe, then attested for service with the British Army at Athlone in County Westmeath in Ireland on 4th April 1814 when aged 22, and then saw service as a Guardsman with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Foot Guards - the Grenadier Guards. Lucas then found himself on active service during the Waterloo Campaign, being present at both the Battle of Quatre Bras on 16th June and the Battle of Waterloo on 18th June 1815.

Napoleon's last hundred days brought about the most famous battle in European history. When he escaped from Elba on 26th February and entered Paris on 20th March, he was able to raise an army of 123,000. Wellington had to work fast to raise enough seasoned troops to stop him but he was disappointed with the men available. There were not enough 1st battalions from the infantry regiments. His final tally of 106,000 was made up of Belgian, Dutch and German allies as well as the British troops. The British infantry that fought at Waterloo numbered 17,000. Of these, 3,836 were Foot Guards.

The Guards were organised in two brigades in the 1st Division. The 1st Brigade was made up of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 1st Guards, and the 2nd Brigade consisted of Coldstreamers and Scots Guards. Major-General Peregrine Maitland commanded the 1st Guards Brigade whose strength was: 2/1st Guards, 29 officers and 752 men, and 3/1st Guards, 29 officers and 818 men. Each battalion had about 40 sergeants and 20 drummers.

It was on the evening of the Duchess of Richmond's ball, 15th June, that Wellington discovered that Napoleon had 'humbugged' him. The army had to be mobilised that night so nobody had much sleep. The Guards were camped at Enghien and received the order at 0130 hrs. They marched out at 0400 and were force-marched all day in hot weather. At 1700hrs, as the 1st Guards arrived at Quatre Bras they were thrown in to the battle and drove the French back out of a thick wood. They suffered heavy casualties. The two 1st Guards battalions lost 3 officers, killed and 43 other ranks. Wounded: 10 officers and 491 other ranks.

The allies retained control of Quatre Bras but Blucher's Prussians had been hit hard at Ligny and forced to withdraw. The following day was spent withdrawing to Mont St Jean. There was a cavalry battle at Genappe but the Foot Guards were not involved. The heavy rain started at midday and continued through the night. The Light Companies of both Guards Brigades, under Lord Saltoun, were ordered to secure the Chateau of Hougoumont while the rest of the Guards took up positions behind Hougoumont.

The actual battle of Waterloo was fought between 72,000 of Napoleon's French troops and 68,000 allied troops under Wellington. Blucher's Prussian army did not arrive until it was almost all over.

Lord Saltoun commanded the two Light Companies of the 1st Guards who were ordered to hold the garden and orchard of the chateau while the other two Light Companies of the Coldstream and Scots Guards were commanded by Lt-Col James Macdonnell, responsible for the buildings. The night had been spent by all of these men busily fortifying the buildings ready for an attack early on the 18th. But Napoleon delayed his advance on the allies so the first attack did not happen until 1100 hrs. The 1st Guards held the orchard but the brunt of the attack was taken by the Coldstream and Scots Guards who fought with great heroism all afternoon.

The Guards were again in the thick of the battle at the climactic confrontation with the famed Grenadiers of Napoleon's Imperial Guard. Marshal Ney led the assault which began with a French artillery barrage. Wellington ordered his men to lie down on the reverse slope to reduce casualties. Some of the 1st Guards even managed to snatch some sleep as the shot whistled overhead. At 1930hrs the advance began. There were 6,000 Grenadiers, seasoned veterans, moving in two massive columns on a frontage of 70 men shoulder to shoulder.
One column was heading towards the 1st Guards who numbered around 1,000. They lay out of sight but could hear the sound of thousands of marching feet and roars of 'Vive l'Empereur'. When they were 40 paces away, Wellington shouted 'Now Maitland. Now's your time!' When the Guards sprang to their feet they were in four ranks. The front rank opened fire, killing 300 Frenchmen. The other ranks repeated this, combined with a barrage of grapeshot from the artillery, the Imperial Guard wavered and tried to fall back. Then Lord Saltoun led a charge of the 1st Guards which routed their French counterparts. The 'invincible' Imperial Guard was routed. The cry went up throughout the French army that the Guard were retreating. The whole of the British force swept forward and drove the enemy back across the valley and up the opposite slope. Cavalry and infantry, tired as they were pursued them off the field of battle. Even the weary Guards from Hougoumont joined in.

The casualty figures for the 1st Guards Brigade on the 18th June were, 4 officers and 131 other ranks killed, 11 officers and 346 other ranks wounded.

Lucas who survived the day unscathed, then went on to remain on service with his regiment. It was whilst he was employed ‘on the Newgate Guards’ that Lucas was discovered to be drunk on the evening of 7th February 1826, and having seen convicted on 9th October, was then sentenced to ‘two hundred lashes at such a time and place as the Commanding Officer thinks fit’. The sentence was approved and then carried out at the Royal Barracks Dublin on 10th October 1826. Lucas was eventually discharged from the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards at London on 5th January 1827, he being discharged on account of his ‘bad character’.