Jump to content
Gentleman's Military Interest Club
rusticalex

George Drummond Graeme Kings German Legion

Recommended Posts

Hi All

Probably a tricky one this, to say the least, but my great, great, great uncle won a Gold Cross at Waterloo, and as far as we know, we do not have it in the family anymore. It was most likely sold in the 19th Century, by his son, who came into financial difficulties.

My ancestor's name was George Drummond Graeme, and during the Battle of Waterloo he was in the Kings German Legion. To quote from my great great aunt: "By this time he was wearing a medal and three clasps and the gold cross for Waterloo (1816)."

So, if anyone has any idea at all as to how we might track it's whereabouts down, I'd appreciate it very much!

Thanks
Alex

Edited by Nick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Uuuuhhhh..do you mean the Baron?

Well, his title was Laird of Inchbrakie, although he might have been known as a Baron - I'm not sure. He encountered the French at La Haye Sainte. Are we talking about the same man?!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alex,

Your family relative served at Waterloo as a Lieutenant in the 2nd Light Battalion, KGL and as you most probably know, he was wounded at the defence of La Haye Sainte and taken prisoner. Despite being in the KGL he was Scottish. He was certainly awarded two campaign medals for his war service fighting against the French. His first medal would be the Waterloo Medal awarded c1816 and then c1849 he would have been issued with the Military General Service (MGS) Medal with 3 battle clasps (Vittoria, Nivelle and Nive) - again as a Lieutenant in the KGL. He was placed on half-pay (as a Lieutenant) on 25 April 1816. The London auctioneers "Dix Noonan Webb" have an on-line database of all the MGS medals issued and notes on whether they have ever appeared for sale. Graeme's medal is listed in the database but there is no recorded sighting/selling of it.

In the Peninsular War the British Army awarded small gold medals to officers commanding regiments engaged in specified major battles/sieges. These medals normally went to officers of the rank of Lieut-Colonel, Major or occasionally Captains. The practice of awarding gold medals did not occur for the battle of Waterloo. Graeme's name is not included in the list of officers awarded one these army small gold medals for the Peninsular War.

Several senior officers were decorated with gold medals of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath for their service at the battle of Waterloo. However, given the junior rank of your relative (Lieutenant) it is very unlikely Graeme was one of them. All in all it is difficult to see which gold medal/star your Great Great aunt is referring to.

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks for these links Jens. My only problem is that I can't translate German, but I'll ask a friend who used to live in Germany to help me!

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alex,

Your family relative served at Waterloo as a Lieutenant in the 2nd Light Battalion, KGL and as you most probably know, he was wounded at the defence of La Haye Sainte and taken prisoner. Despite being in the KGL he was Scottish. He was certainly awarded two campaign medals for his war service fighting against the French. His first medal would be the Waterloo Medal awarded c1816 and then c1849 he would have been issued with the Military General Service (MGS) Medal with 3 battle clasps (Vittoria, Nivelle and Nive) - again as a Lieutenant in the KGL. He was placed on half-pay (as a Lieutenant) on 25 April 1816. The London auctioneers "Dix Noonan Webb" have an on-line database of all the MGS medals issued and notes on whether they have ever appeared for sale. Graeme's medal is listed in the database but there is no recorded sighting/selling of it.

In the Peninsular War the British Army awarded small gold medals to officers commanding regiments engaged in specified major battles/sieges. These medals normally went to officers of the rank of Lieut-Colonel, Major or occasionally Captains. The practice of awarding gold medals did not occur for the battle of Waterloo. Graeme's name is not included in the list of officers awarded one these army small gold medals for the Peninsular War.

Several senior officers were decorated with gold medals of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath for their service at the battle of Waterloo. However, given the junior rank of your relative (Lieutenant) it is very unlikely Graeme was one of them. All in all it is difficult to see which gold medal/star your Great Great aunt is referring to.

Paul

Thank you Paul - very interesting, and the reference to Dixon Noonan Webb is fascinating. Firstly, I am intrigued that you say he was taken prisoner. I have never heard that before. To quote from a letter from him to his father, dated 29th June 1815, as recorded by my great, great aunt:

"On the 17th we retreated from before a strong position the enemy had in a wood at Quatre Bras (where we had been acting on the defensive and kept them in); our regiment formed the rear guard and had to amuse their skirmishers two hours after our army had gone, it was then so dreadfully hot we could hardly draw one leg after the other." George then describes torrents of rain making streams unfordable: "the enemy following us close with their artillery peppering us from every height, they then came on with their cavalry which beat ours at first, but were checked; nothing but horror to be seen, every one seemed panic-struck at the idea of retreat, all the fine Huzzars galloping past us like Blackamoors, having been unhorsed and rolled in the mud, horse artillery, etc., all running through each other and the enemy as is usual follow up in such a manner not giving you time to breathe.

"But this soon changed to joy on seeing our army had taken up a position; about seven in the evening up to the knees in mud, we came on piquet in a Farm in front of the position; we had neither rations nor anything, and it was very cold. At daybreak we heard the whole army opposite crying ‘Vive l’Empereur,’ they attacked first on the right, but very soon the whole line was engaged, they came on most furiously (the centre on the high road from Neville to this place) with immense columns, but were beat most confoundedly, such a carnage is almost beyond belief; we continually broke them and then pursued them with the cavalry into their own position, this went on the whole day; we were within their grape range but towards evening they brought a Battery to bear on us, pierced a wall which was our principal defence, and then sent down columes to which this wall served as a breastwork on our flanks, so that our unfortunate three companies were overpowered and forced to quit, some of the enemy then got in opened the gates and the whole column rushed in. We had all to pass through the house through a narrow passage; we wanted to halt then men and make one more charge but it was impossible, we fellows were firing down the passage. An officer of our Camp called out to me ‘take care’, but I was too busy stopping the men and called out ‘never mind, let the blackguard fire,’ he was about five yards off leveling his piece at me when this officer stabbed him twice. He fell immediately, but they flocked in, this officer got two shots and ran into a room where he lay behind a bed. All the time they had possession of the house, sometimes the room was full of them and some wounded soldiers of ours who lay there and cried out ‘Pardon,’ were shot, the monsters saying ‘take that for the fine defence you have made’; an officer and four men came first in; the officer took me by the collar and said to his men ‘C’est un coquin’ (I don’t know what he meant); instantly the fellows had their bayonets down and made a dead stick at me which I parried off with my sword; the officer always running about and then coming to me and shaking me again by the collar, but they all looked so frightened, and pale as ashes; I thought you shan’t keep me and bolted off through the lobby, they fired two shots after me and cryed out ‘Coquin’ but did not follow. I regained the remnants of the regiment, when we were immediately charged by a Regiment of Cuirassiers. All the army was formed in squares, we immediately got our men in a hollow and peppered them, and I believe they found the cuirass not thick enough for our musket shot, at any rate they faced about leaving not a few behind; we were overjoyed and leapt out and made the bugle sound forwards wanting to retake the house, but having only a handful of men half without a cartridge, and the columns of the enemy forming up behind, the cavalry gave us such a galling fire.

"I had got an old French sword which I picked up and when I got my lick it flew up into the air; this was about seven in the evening, and I had been convinced in my idea that no ball could touch me. I was in such a heat that the blood gushed very much and staying a little too long without thinking of it, that I began to sail, all the world ran round, and I began to think all was a farce, till just as I was about to fall a fellow of ours ran up to me and bound up my arm, and brought me away; I was so thirsty I drank a canteen of water; a stupid Doctor told me I would lose my arm, but I had no idea of that, although there is an officer in this house who was amputated this morning with the selfsame would but he did not care. The night of the 18th we were obliged to lay in a hovel on the roadside but slept like princes.

"When Baring collected the regiment at night there were 63 men and four officers, he burst into tears and wished he ‘had been killed too.’ But it was a glorious day; I am glad I saw the whole of it."

So, no indication that he was captured! I guess one thing that might help us solve the question of which medals he was awarded would be to get the portrait that we have of him restored. It has quite a layer of bitumen, making it impossible at this stage to make out which medals he is wearing. That we might do in future. The reference to the gold star comes shortly after the recording of his experiences at La Haye Sainte. His spirited actions received high praise from George Baring, his commanding officer, so I don't know if that would have made a difference to him receiving an extra award. It might be a mystery we don't resolve, but thanks for your help anyway.

My other question is regarding the Dixon Noonan Webb. I found another reference to one of my ancestors, and I was wondering if you could tell me what the provenance might mean. Here is the link to him: My link

Very many thanks

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Alex,

I got the reference to him being captured from a link on the internet. It now looks like the capture must relate to the short time when he was man-handled by the French before he managed to dash out of the farmhouse and rejoin the his regiment. So not really a capture but more of a very close encounter!

Re the gold star. It is possible that the star was a regimental/private award. If so, it is possible that you could find mention of such an award being made in one of the published histories of the KGL.

As for the link to your other relative. That link shows that Lieutenant Charles Harington Graeme of the 5th Madras Light Cavalry was awarded the Army of India medal with clasp "AVA" for his services in the First Burma War. His medal was sold at auction in May 1958 by the London based firm of auctioneers Glendining's (now part of Bonhams). Furthermore it indicates that later in his career he was wounded at the siege of Samanghur in October 1844. According to a newspaper report of the time his wound was slight.

Regards

Paul

Edited by Paul_1957

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello all

The original post is quite old now, but I wonder if anyone can help a bit more with this, not in terms of my original question, but in identifying the medals that my ancestor is wearing in this portrait of him. Obviously one of the medals is the Waterloo medal - any further help greatly appreciated! And why would he have his hand tucked into his jacket like that?

Many thanks

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hugh   

The light blue ribbon looks like the Guelphic Order (Hanover) and the black/red/black looks like Russia's St. Vladimir.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JapanX   

And why would he have his hand tucked into his jacket like that?

A la Napoleon ;)

... and the black/red/black looks like Russia's St. Vladimir.

I don't know Hugh...

Black rays instead of red and black and central medallion looks completely different ...

Regards,

Nick

P.S. Great ancestors you have Alex :cheers:

Edited by JapanX

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alex,

Seeing that picture has allowed me to identify the gold medal that you have been looking for.

It is called The William Cross. Here is a description taken from a book by Bernard Burke which I found on the internet tonight. The William Cross was founded on the 2nd March, 1837, by King William IV., for the Hanoverian troops, as a reward for long loyal service. The first distribution took place only after his demise. The Cross is of gold, and has on the obverse the letters : ' W. R. IV.' with the crown above them, and on the reverse the number : ' 25.' It is presented to all officers (including staff-surgeons and their assistants), commanders, town-majors, and others in active service, who have served in the army, twenty-five years (the years of war counting double).

The medal is suspended from a dark red ribbon with dark blue edges (just like the Waterloo Medal). I believe that the medal did not have the recipients name on it.

Paul

Edited by Paul_1957

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great sleuthing, gentlemen! I never cease to be amazed, not only by the breadth, and depth, of the knowledge regularly demonstrated on this site, but by the eagerness our members show in responding quickly and completely to almost every query. A bunch of frustrated teachers, perhaps? And that's a GOOD thing! ;) I taught school for 33 years and now I work in a museum and lurk on militaria sites answering what few questions I can. Also 'teaching' in its purest form.

Peter

Edited by peter monahan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×