Introductory speech by Major Nick Hallidie
“Senhor Nuno Mocinha, Presidente da Camâra Municipal de Elvas, my Lord, ladies and gentlemen, meus senhores minhas senhoras, distinguished guests, we are gathered again to remember those who fell in the battle of Albuera and the sieges of Badajoz, but one person is missing.
Mike Ward and his companions in the “Travelling 57th” first visited La Albuera in 1991, 26 years ago. Although none of them spoke a word of Spanish, the village rapidly took them into its heart. I first visited La Albuera a few years later and was surprised to see these men dressed uniformly in grey slacks, white shirts with the distinctive Middlesex regimental tie, a blazer with the regimental badge and a beret. Mr Ward was in charge, I was told. These visits were conducted as military operations; a warning order was followed by a movement order containing all the necessary admin instructions. Through age and infirmity, Mike has not been able to come recently and this year, we heard the sad news of his death, which marks the end of an era. We are very glad that his son and daughter in law are with us today, with John Raby, and Alan Richardson the remaining active members of the “Travelling 57th”.
Sir Charles Oman wrote, “Truly Albuera is the most honourable of all the Peninsular blazons on a regimental flag”. Three of the regiments awarded this battle honour form part of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, who continue to maintain the tradition set by Mike and his companions of visiting every year.
I am happy to say that the Association of the Friends of the British Cemetery is very healthy. We have over 300 members, spread around the world and including one or two French nationals. This is due to the work of a very few individuals in Portugal, Spain and Great Britain. These efforts have been increased by Jackie and Selwyn Kennard’s work promoting the Friends in Lisbon.
The Peninsular War has a special place in the hearts of the British Army. Never before or since, has there been a period of five years of warfare in which we did not lose a single battle. For the Portuguese Army, the defeat of the ‘Invasões francesas’, brought back the respect it richly deserved. In Spain, the winning of ‘La Guerra de Independencia’ demonstrated, if that were needed, their, often suicidal, courage in the face of overwhelming odds.
We do well to salute the feats of our forebears in these lands two centuries ago.”
Stewart Streeting then introduced the following speakers:
Col Alfonso Molla Lorente, Spanish Army;
Dr Nuno Mocinha, President de Camara Municipal de Elvas
Col Patrick Crowley presented the trophy to Mariana Messias for the best at English out of 400 pupils from the school “Agrupamento de Esclas No3 de Elvas”.
This competition was the idea of Col Nick Lipscombe, who proposed the idea that the FBCE should present a trophy in Elvas, along the lines of the “Best at English” award presented by the PWRR in Albuera. Celia Denney contacted the Directora of the Escola Segundaria D. Sancho II who responded positively and, having consulted the teacher of English, pronounced that Mariana Messias, aged 17, was the best out of 400 pupils. The school is very happy that this initiative sets the precedent for future years, and the local newspaper, Linhas de Elvas, gave the event a good coverage.
The following laid wreaths:
|Lord (Decies)||Friends of the British Cemetery||Maj Gen Daniel Hoghton’s Grave|
|Maj Gen Rui Moura||Portuguese Army||Lt Col James Ward Oliver’s Grave|
|Juan Zuleta & Antonio Martínez Buzo||Milicia Universitaria||Albuera Wall|
|Anton Herzog||Peninsular War 200||PW 200 plaque|
|Joao da Silveira||The Order of Malta||Albuera Wall|
|Sharon Herzog||King’s German Legion||Albuera Wall|
|Bryan Hazard 3rd Foot||The Buffs||Albuera Wall|
|Neil Holding 5th Foot||Foot Northumberland Fusiliers||Badajoz Wall|
|Col Patrick Crowley||East Surrey Regiment (31st & 70th)||Albuera Wall|
|Mike Byham 48th Foot||Northamptonshire Regiment||Badajoz Wall|
|Major Paul Senter||57th Foot Middlesex Regiment||Albuera Wall|
John Raby & Alan Richardson
|57th Foot Middlesex Regiment||Albuera Wall|
|Maj Paul Senter||The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers||Albuera Wall|
|Lt Col Anthony Collis||Light Dragoons||Albuera Wall|
|Denis Casey||The Royal Irish Regiments||Badajoz Wall|
|Col Patrick Crowley||Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment||Albuera Wall|
|Col Joaquim Bucho||Museu Militar de Elvas||Badajoz Wall|
|Coronel de Cavalaria - Paulo Ramos||Portuguese Army||Albuera Wall|
|Col Alfonso Molla Lorente||Spanish Army||Albuera Wall|
|Dr Nuno Mocinha||Presidente da Camãra Municipal de Elvas||Albuera Wall|
|Julio Macho Quintero||Representing the Alcalde de La Albuera||Albuera Wall|
|Sgt João Jose Baltasar||Representing the Liga de Combatentes||Albuera Wall|
Prayers and Blessings
Padre Carlos, Spanish Army Chaplain.