While the Latham Centrepiece tells the heroic tale of Lieutenant Latham and the Buffs on the battlefield of Albuhera, it is the Loving Cup that reminds the Battalion of the equal sacrifice of the Middlesex regiment (57th of Foot) on that bloody field. It was on the ridge of Albuhera that the Middlesex Regiment withstood a four hour pounding by grape shot, round shot and massed close range French musketry. Their steadfastness was critical to British victory and typified by their Commanding Officer, Colonel Inglis, who, though terribly wounded, refused treatment and instead sat propped up in front of his battered Colours exalting his men to “Die hard 57th, die hard!” The Middlesex did not disappoint: 432 out of 600 either killed or wounded but still had sufficient will to drive the faltering French from the field of battle. As Marshal Soult, the French commander, remarked of the British infantry at Albuhera “There is no beating these troops. They were completely beaten, the day was mine and they did not know it and would not run.”
The piece itself is a faithful copy of the original silver two handled loving cup on two column stems and circular base. Suspended beneath the cup is a replica of the Peninsula War Medal which comes with 5 bars (Nive, Nivelle, Pyrenees, Vittoria and Albuhera) awarded to Private Henry Holloway – an 11 year old Drummer Boy at the time of the Battle.
The body is engraved with a Colour on each side. On the reverse it is plain with punched crown and LVII on the other combined with the West Middlesex crest. It is used every year on the anniversary of the battle in the ceremony of ‘The Silent Toast to The Immortal Memory’ and shared by all officers, warrant officers and sergeants of the Battalion to mark solemnly the duty handed to us by the fallen of the past and to commemorate all members of the current and forebear regiments who have died on operations.
The ceremony copies the impromptu first one held by the surviving officers and sergeants of the Middlesex on the very evening of the original battle in that they drew near, drank and broke bread together in an inn near the scene of the fighting.
The inscription reads, “To the memory of the diehards May 16th 1811 – 415 Rank and File who fell at Albuhera. Presented to 2nd Bn Queen’s from all diehards 4th Bn.“