The back ground to the Albuhera Memorial

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Albuhera Memorial

The Albuhera Memorial

This silver centrepiece with oak base was commissioned by the officers of the 1st Battalion The Middlesex Regiment in 1925/6. In 1924, the same officers had purchased the Army Gold Medal awarded to Lieutenant William Mann, the Adjutant of the 57th Regiment, for his actions at the battle of Albuhera. It is recorded in the Die-Hards Journal Volume 2-4 p195 of 1926 that the medal was hung in the centre of the Memorial. The design is based on the Albuera Memorial at La Albuera in Spain.

The centre piece was made by Walker and Hall, Sheffield hallmarked 1925. It consists of a silver brick base surmounted by four silver brick arches, eight columns and four Athenian porticos. Engraved on the base of two columns are the names of the Spanish Generals: Castano, Blague, Lardizabal, Ballesteros, Zayas, Espana, Penne and the Anglo Portuguese Generals: Beresford, Stewart, Alten, Cole, Lumley, Hamilton. In the centre of the silver brick base is engraved ‘COMMANDER IN CHIEF BERESFORD’.

On the front portico is engraved:

Albuera
A Los Valientes del 16 de Mayo 1811
La Comision os
Monumentos de Badajoz

which translated is:

Albuera

To the brave men of 16th May 1811
Dedicated by
The Monuments Commission of Badajoz

Note the Spanish spelling of Albuera rather than Albuhera which is the English spelling. Badajoz is the nearest city which controls the region.

Today, in the centre of the Memorial hangs a replica of the Army Gold Medal. It is gold on a blue/maroon/blue ribbon with two bow clasps and a buckle clip. Engraved "ALBUHERA" it is in a gold band inscribed "Major William Collis Spring". It is not known at the time of writing (2019) why a replica of Major Springs’s medal hangs in the Memorial instead of Lieutenant Mann’s medal.

Three officers of the 57th of Foot were awarded gold medals for their actions during the battle (The "Peninsula Roll Call" by Lionel S Challis):

Colonel William Inglis, Commanding Officer of the 57th who was severely wounded, but recovered after two years to finish the Peninsular War as a Major General commanding 2nd Brigade in the 7th Division. He was knighted, promoted to Lieutenant General and was appointed Governor of Cork. In 1830 he was appointed Colonel of the 57th Regiment, where he had served for 31 years. He died in his 71st year at Ramsgate in Kent in 1835. His body was buried in the Chapter House of Canterbury Cathedral.

Major William Collis Spring fought with distinction and was wounded during the battle. He commanded the 2nd Battalion from 1811 to 1814. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1813, and took command of the 1st Battalion the 57th in 1815. Following the victory of the allied armies at the Battle of Waterloo, Spring's battalion was part of the 16th British Brigade of Wellington's army of occupation in France. Spring retired from the army in 1819 and was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Kerry. He died in 1825.

Lieutenant William Mann was the Adjutant of the 57th. At the end of the battle, he was in com¬mand and marched the remnants of the Regiment from the battlefield. He was promoted to Captain in 1813 and died in 1829. The following article was printed in the Die-Hards Journal Volume 1-9 p250 1924:

”BATTLE OF ALBUHERA. A valuable and historic trophy has recently been obtained for the Regiment. The Officers’ Mess, 1st Battalion purchased a Peninsula Gold Medal for the Battle of Albuhera, 1811. Small size, 1 1/3 inches in diameter; the reverse engraved Albuhera within laurel wreath; glazed and mounted; the mount engraved " Lieut. Willm . Mann, 57th Regt.” with swivel and buckle on ribbon, in original case. Lieut. Mann, who at the commencement of the battle was fourteenth on the list of officers, was at the end of the day in com¬mand of the remnants of the Regiment, all his senior officers having been killed or wounded. This is the only case where an officer under field rank was awarded the Gold Medal.”

In fact, 10 Captains from all regiments engaged in the battle received the medal, but Lieutenant Mann was the most junior officer. (The British Army Against Napoleon: Facts, Lists and Trivia, 1805-1815, p 272-3, by Bob Burnham, Ron McGuigan)

La Albuera Memorial

The Commission of Monuments of Badajoz decided in 1845 to construct a monument to commemorate the battle of La Albuera. It was completed in 1854. During the second half of the century, the monument deteriorated due to neglect and it had to be rebuilt in 1903. A bust of General Francisco Javier Castanos, the Spanish Army commander during the Peninsular War, is in the arch. (MEMORIAL ARCHITECTURE. THE COMMISSION OF MONUMENTS OF BADAJOZ AND THE BATTLE OF LA ALBUERA, by Pablo Ortiz Romero).

To view the centre piece again click here