Talavera Day - 27th July 1809

Talavera was a battle of the Peninsular War. Wellington had advanced into Spain with the intention of bringing to battle a large French army. On 27 July 1809 his forces occupied high ground at Talavera; southwest of Madrid, alongside a large Spanish force. Late in the evening, the French attacked, before the left of the British line was properly in position, and occupied an important hill.

A swift counterattack, in which the 1st Battalion of the 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot played a prominent part, drove the French off the hill, and other troops, including the 2nd Battalion of the 48th, came up to help secure the position.

A large-scale French assault the following morning was repulsed, but later in the day when the French attacked the centre of the British line a dangerous gap was opened up. Wellington summoned the 1/48th to plug the gap, which they did with great dash and bravery.

In his subsequent dispatch, Wellington wrote, ‘The battle was certainly saved by the advance, position, and steady conduct of the 48th Regiment.’ As a result of their conduct on 28th July, the 48th were granted the signal privilege of being the only regiment in the Army permitted to include the word “Talavera” on their buttons and accoutrements.

The ‘Heroes of Talavera’. 1/48th stood firm as men rushed through their intervals, then closing, prepared to meet the enemy mass which loomed out of the haze straight at them with bayonets fixed. It is during one of these actions, Lt Col Donellan was mortally wounded, his dying words to the Battalion Second in Command were “Maj Middlemore, you have the honour of leading the 48th in the charge!”
For their actions that day, The 48th were awarded the single privilege of being the only regiment permitted to include the word Talavera on their badge, buttons and accoutrements.
The Poachers remember their forebears, The 48th of Foot, in The Northamptonshire Regiment as they marched on, to commemorate the Battle of Talavera.
Talavera Day was celebrated within the Northamptonshire Regiment and the 2nd East Anglian Regiment, and is today the main Regimental day of the 2nd Battalion.

More about the 2nd Battalion

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