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BATTLE HONOURS
Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment
28th, 49th, 61st, 62nd, 66th and 99th Regiments of Foot

 

Egmont - Op - Zee
2nd October 1799
Unit Awarded Battle Honour Subsequent Designation
49th (Hertfordshire) Regiment 1st Berkshire Regiment
  1st Royal Berkshire Regiment
  1st Bn D.E.R.R.
  Now, 1st Bn R.G.B.W.

 

BACKGROUND

In 1799 a fresh attempt was made to wrest Holland from the French, and Sir Ralph ABERCROMBY was dispatched to the Low Countries at the head of a division to co-operate with the Russians. His force consisted of a Brigade of Guards, and two brigades of Infantry, under Generals COOTE and  John MOORE. On April 17th a landing was affected at Grote Ketwn, in face of the determined opposition of a brigade of French troops, our total loss being 27 officers and 440 men killed and wounded. Before the end of the month ABERCROMBY had been reinforced by seven more battalions, and by September 20th the British forces had been brought up to a total of 30.000, with HRH the Duke of York once more in Chief command, the whole being distributed as follows: -

 

CAVALRY BRIGADE

7th, 11th and one squadron of the 18th Light dragoons

FIRST BRIGADE Major General D’Oyley

1st Bn Grenadier Guards, and a composite of the grenadier companies of the whole brigade

SECOND BRIGADE, Major General Burrard

1st Bn Coldstream Guards, 1st Bn Scots Fusilier Guards 

THIRD BRIGADE, Major General Coote

2nd (Queens) Regt,, 27th (Inniskillings), 29th (Worcesters), 85th (Shropshire Light Infantry)

FORTH BRIGADE, Major General Sir John Moore

1st (Royal Scots) 25th (Kings own Scottish Borderers) 49th (Hertfordshire)  79th (Cameron Highlanders), 92nd (Gordon Highlanders)

FIFTH BRIGADE, Major General Don

17th (Leicester’s – two Battalions) 40th (South Lancashire’s – Two Battalions)

SIXTH BRIGADE, Lord Cavan

20th (Lancashire Fusiliers – Two Battalions) 63rd (Manchester’s)

SEVENTH BRIGADE, Lord Chatham

4th (Kings Own) Three Battalions, 31st (East Surrey)

EIGHTH BRIGADE, HRH Prince William

5th (Northumberland Fusiliers) Two Battalions 35th (Sussex)

NINTH BRIGADE Major General Manners

9th (Norfolk’s) Two Battalions, 56th (Essex)

RESERVE BRIGADE, Colonel Macdonald

23rd (Royal Welch Fusiliers), 55th (Border)

IN GARRISON AT THE HELDER

35th (Sussex), 69th (Welsh)

   

THE GROUND

Egmont op Zee 'The Ground'

The 49th (Hertfordshire) Regiment landed on the 27th August and although the landing was opposed elsewhere they landed in relative safety. An order from Horse Guards dated 9th August gives some insight into the planning……… General Order dated 9th August 1799

The different Corps will take the earliest opportunity of drying their camp equipage and will expose it to the wind as much as possible. In the event of disembarkation the troops are to draw up on the quarterdeck and move by single files to get into the boats, handling arms to a man on the side of a ship. When a soldier is in the boat his firelock is to be given him and he immediately takes his seat. When ordered by the Petty Officer, silence must be vigorously observed, none but an officer to speak, in a loud voice. Arms are not to be loaded until on shore, as no firing is to be made from the boats. When the flat boats takes the ground, the men in front leap out, all following, and instantly form  fronting the enemy. They load by divisions, who may have landed and formed, detached bodies will join the main body instantly. The troops to take two days provisions ready cooked, water in their canteens and their greatcoats. Ships and vessels having the same regiments on board are to keep together, also those having the same Brigade to keep together, each Regiment to distinguish its boats by their camp colours. The boats of the same regiment to assemble together and keep so.

 

Major GLEGG of the 49th later said, We carried the heights by 1 pm, very hard fighting on the right till between 4 and 5 pm, when the enemy retreated before our victorious troops and were soon afterwards out of sight. On the same evening, the Helder with its several forts was evacuated by the enemy. The Texl Island surrendered on the 28th . On the 30th, eight Dutch ships of the line, three frigates and one cutter under the command of Admiral STOREY, surrendered to the English fleet commanded by General MITCHELL.

From this date and the 2nd October the 49th were engaged in Marching, Picquiting and skirmishing.

On the 2nd October the Brunt of the fighting fell on the forth and Sixth Brigades, under Sir John MOORE, and Sir Ralph ABERCROMBY.

The position was attacked by the troops in columns with the 49th (Hertfordshire) Regiment in the right hand column which comprised the Brigades of D’Oyley, Moore, and Lord Cavan. To the left of this column were 8000 Russians, and beyond them Dundas with three Brigades, and on his left   PULTENEY with the remaining three British Brigades and some Russians.

 

The Right hand column (Containing the 49th (Hertfordshire) Regiment) was directed on Egmont – op – Zee partly along the beach and partly through the sand dunes which rose very steeply on its East. The terrain caused many problems with the formation conastly getting separated. The Scrub ahead of the advancing troops provided excellent cover for the French Sharpshooters.. It is recorded that the big men of the Grenadiers of the Line (Mostly Ex Militia men) found the advance over the sand very heavy going. Confusion reigned and at one time it was necessary fir the 1st Foot together with the 49th (Hertfordshire) Regiment to cover the flanks of the 25th and 79th Regiments. After about six hours of fighting and marching, ABERCROMBYS Column, which had started at 6 Am., was within a mile of Egmont – op – Zee. MOORES Column was somewhat disordered by the nature of the country but the Regiments closed with the enemy, for the next hour there was a fierce and confused struggle hand to hand between the men of both sides, now broken up into small bodies and fighting a real ‘Soldiers Battle’ Even fists were resorted to, and it became a question of whose strength would last longest in this fight on unstable sand, where it was difficult to maintain a firm footing or effectively use a bayonet at the end of the clumsy heavy musket of the day.

Both sides had fought themselves to a standstill, with the British coming out on top. The Battalion remained in this area until the 7th October when they evacuated Alkmaar and fell back to their old lines in rear of Martens Burg.

On October the 19th An Armistice was agreed between the Allied and French Army. The expeditionary force then embarked for England and the 49th (Hertfordshire) Regiment reached Yarmouth on October 27th.

The Battalions Causalities were 2 Officers Killed, 5 Wounded, 31 O.R.s killed and 50 Wounded.

 

     

 UNITS ENTITLED TO THE BATTLE HONOUR

15th Hussars

Lancashire Fusiliers

Berkshire

Cameron Highlanders

Royal Scots

Kings Own Scottish Borderers

Manchester Regt

Gordon Highlanders

Effectively all the Regiments in the 4th and 6th Brigades were the most heavily engaged

         

 
 
                             
 
                        
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                            Revised: 24 July 2002.