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Forlorn Hope Did soldiers who survived volunteering for the forlorn hope in breaching sieges get any kind of formal or regimental recognition i.e. a badge. I remember reading in one of the Bernard Cornwall novels that there was some kind of badge worn on the sleeve.

Did this really exist and if so what did it actually look like and are there any surviving examples left ?

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I believe that the term, "Forlorn Hope" , comes from the Dutch term, "Verlorene Hoop", meaning 'lost troop'. As there were large Dutch contingents in the British Army in the Peninsular War. I have never seen or heard of an example , though.
It could have been an unofficial thing of that era, or just something the Riflemen did. :blink:

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The forlorn hope was essentially made up of 'Volunteers' to be the initial storming party. Either into a breach or indeed to scale walls. As regards any special recognition for this I could not find any evidence, however I found some work regarding the role of the 42nd Highland (Black Watch) at Badajoz. At Badajoz, where the British casualties were particularly heavy, the victorious Allies took a fearful vengeance on their French enemies, the town being given up to a three-day orgy of drunken looting, rape and murder. Exactly what role the Black Watch took in this riot is not recorded, but it is perhaps significant that they received no battle honour for Badajoz.
So prosumably because of the debacle following the storming no military honours were handed out, only floggings and hangings!!
There was an assault on the fort of Monte Saint Michael where elements of the 42nd were in the Forlorn hope, this was initially repulsed by the French, the Black Watch eager to take the Fort tried to persuade our portugese Allies to assist them to re-assault, they enthusiastically declined to a man. All seemed lost until the 79th (Cameron) Highlanders came to the assistance of the Black Watch. A fresh attack commenced and, after a fierce and desperate fight, the Scottish soldiers succeeded in capturing the fort of Monte Saint Michael. Despite searching I could not find any special distinction for being in the Forlorn Hope. Could it be that the Forlorn Hope were made up of men who had disgraced themselves in some way and this was a chance to escape a hanging and therby redeem their honour.

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Is it true then that if senior NCO's volunteered for the Forlorn Hope, acquitted themselves well and survived, they could have been possibly awarded a commission ?

I find this hard to believe as being a matter of course although undoubtedly it may have happened on the very rare occasion.

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  • 10 months later...
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Some regiments issued patches with the letters VS on them. This stood for 'Valiant Stormer'.

If you check Richard Holmes's 'Redcoat' you will find details of this and answers to most of the questions.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Found this online, hope it helps smile.gif

FORLORN HOPE (through Dutch verloren hoop, from Ger. verlorene Haufe=" lost troop "; Haufe, " heap," being equivalent in the 17th century See Also:

CENTURY (from Lat. centuria, a division of a hundred men)

to " body of troops "; the French

equivalent is enfants perdus) , a military term (sometimes shortened to " forlorn "), used in the 16th and 17th centuries for a body of troops thrown out in front of the line of battle to engage the hostile line, somewhat after the fashion of skirmishers, though they were always solid closed bodies. These troops ran great

risks, because they were often trapped between the two lines of battle as the latter closed upon one another, and fired upon or ridden down by their friends; further, their mission was to facilitate the attacks of their own main body by striking the first blow against or meeting the first shockof the fresh and unshaken enemy.

In the following century (18th), when lines of masses were no longer employed, a thin line of skirmishers alone preceded the three-deep line of battle, but the term " forlorn hope " continued to be used for picked bodies of men entrusted with dangerous tasks, and in particular for the storming party at the assault of a fortress. In this last sense " forlorn hope " is often used at the present time. The misunderstanding of the word " hope " has led to various applications of " forlorn hope," such as to an enterprise offering little chance of success, or, further still from the original meaning, to the faint or desperate hope of such success.

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The term goes at least as far back as the early 16th century, in use within German mercenary formations. There was a tradition of them wearing either red or white (I can't remember which, off the top of my head) ostrich plumes in thier hats in battle as an marker.

--Chris

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  • 2 weeks later...

I believe that the term, "Forlorn Hope" , comes from the Dutch term, "Verlorene Hoop", meaning 'lost troop'. As there were large Dutch contingents in the British Army in the Peninsular War. I have never seen or heard of an example , though.

It could have been an unofficial thing of that era, or just something the Riflemen did. :blink:

Sorry, but from my understanding the only contingents of Dutch troops fighting in the Peninsular War were fighting for the French.

Some time previous to the Peninsular War, Holland was invaded and taken over by the French and re-named the Batavian Republic (I think!) and the crown was given to Napoleon's brother Joseph. This was before he offered the Crown of Spain to him.

The main foreign troops that Britain had with them in the Peninsular (outside of Portugal and Spain) were Germans who had been formed into the Kings German Legion.

Cheers

Graeme

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  • 6 months later...

Can any one help me with the answer for this question:

Who was the officer of the 95th Rifles responsible for selecting personnel of that unit from the excess volunteers for the storming of the breaches (forlorn hope) of Badajoz?

Do you mean the 'South Essex' volunteers :P And think you may be refering to a Richard Sharpe ;)

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Hi

It's a question on another forum http://army.ca//, If you can substatiate that the 95th were not there I would appreciate it. I am under the impression that, thats the way the story line went in the series, but that in real life they were not at the seige? Is this correct?

They were there, the 95th lost 382 men at the seige and storming of Badajoz.

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Thanks for your help guys. :cheers: here's the answer that was given:

From the initiator of the question:

".. This answer for this question is not taken from a work of fiction, but from the 1835 writings of the officer of the 95th rifles who had the job. As a very big clue, the officer held the position of adjutant for his battalion.."

The response to the correct answer:

"...it is indeed Captain Sir John Kincaid. In his book "Random Shots from a Rifleman", he speaks of the difficulty in selecting the members of the forlorn hope from the large number of volunteers eager for honour. Incidentally, Cornwall's "South Essex Regiment" is a fictitious unit. Cornwell acknowledges that he purposely did not give the South Essex a number so as not to take from any other British regiment of the line, all of which were numbered..."

Edited by Laurence Strong
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  • 9 years later...

It was a common practice in Spain to reward the veterans with a decoration patch sewn on the left sleeve for each major battle or campaign they fought. It was shown with prod and also served to show the new recruits the battle experience of their comrades.

I believe that the Commander of the 52nd took this practice from the Spanish Army to reward his bravest.

Here is the replica we did on the "VS" patch

VS_red_w.jpg

http://www.regimientosdeamerica.com/catalogo/images/patches/VS_red_w.jpg

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  • 3 years later...

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