The Seven Years’ war began in 1754 (although hostilities in Europe did not commence until 1756) and lasted until 1763. It was a result of tensions overseas between Britain and France, as each sought to extend their influence worldwide, and concerns regarding British interests in Hanover (the British Royal Family were at the time also rulers of Hanover). Prussia allied herself with Great Britain, Austria with France.
France invaded Hanover in 1757 and made significant advances. Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick initially had some success in driving the French back, but by July 1759 they had advanced again to a very strong defensive position around Minden (north-western Germany). Ferdinand, his Hanoverians reinforced by a large British contingent, deceived the French as to his intentions and they moved forward in the early hours of 1 August, only to find themselves exposed to the entire allied army. Although it was the result of an incorrect order, six battalions of British infantry and two Hanoverian battalions advanced against the entire French cavalry, and by their steadfastness, discipline and marksmanship survived six charges, then the onslaught of an infantry force, wreaking such havoc that the enemy fled in panic and confusion. Counter-attacks were given the same treatment, and by the end of the day the French were in full retreat. The allied force had achieved a great victory.
As the British battalions passed through gardens on the morning of the battle, the soldiers picked rose and wore them in their caps. The senior of those battalions, in the forefront of the action, was the 12th Regiment of Foot, later to become the Suffolk Regiment. The 12th was awarded the battle honour ‘Minden’, as were other British battalions. The custom grew up of wearing red and yellow roses in the headdress on Minden Day each year, and of placing rose wreaths on the Colours and drums if they are on parade.
Minden Day was always strongly commemorated by the Suffolk Regiment, and this tradition was handed down to the 1st East Anglian Regiment then to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment who today ensure that, wherever they are, it is a day of great celebration. In addition, there is an annual Minden Day Reunion at Regimental Headquarters, Bury St Edmunds.