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Soldiers of the Regiment

George David Willson


From the Exeter Gazette of 3rd January 1893

Military men will be interested in extracts from a diary which appears in Notes and Gleanings* concerning the 4th or King’s Own Regiment of Foot. The King’s Own was raised in Devonshire in 1689. At Waterloo they were in the thick of the fight. Their record was 134 men and 11 officers killed or wounded. The old colours of the Regiment are hung in the Guildhall. One of the wounded at Waterloo was Major Willson, who subsequently became Lieutenant Colonel.

Colonel Willson was the maternal grandfather of Dr. Blomfield, and the latter has in his possession a diary, kept by the gallant officer, which contains a great deal of interesting information concerning the embarkation of the King’s Own, their operations at Waterloo and elsewhere, and their subsequent return to England. The Colonel had a narrow escape of an early termination to his career, inasmuch, at Waterloo, early in the action, a shot struck him on the right breast, but the button of his coat turned it off, and he was able to continue in command of the Regiment. The Colonel, however, suffered afterwards from the result of the shock.

I should say that Colonel Willson was, when “put out” an awkward customer, if I may judge from one of his entries. He says, “When we returned to the Chateau of M. Monnecore he seemed by no means glad to see us. Put a sentry at his gate and a guard in his farmhouse to annoy him. Determined to leave his house, so disgusted with him, and move to the Chateau de Vendome belonging to the Marquis d’Ion. The Marquis is a paralytic old gentleman of 70. His wife is sister to M. Monnecore, and seems to posses all the enviable qualifications of her brother, with whom she is not, however, on speaking terms. It is not that the writer says so much, it is what his words suggest.

* Notes and Gleanings, Edited by William Cotton


We have to record the death of Colonel George David Willson, CB, who died on Sunday last, at Romford in his 83rd year. Colonel Willson entered the army at an early age and was present with his regiment, the 4th (King’s Own), on the expedition to the Helder in 1799, and afterwards at the siege of Copenhagen in 1807. He subsequently went to the Peninsular and served under Sir John Moore at the battle of Corunna, where he was wounded. After taking part in various actions, he was present at the storming of Badajoz, where he was again wounded. After taking part in various actions, he was present at the storming of Badajoz, where he was again wounded. He was aide-de-camp to Major General Pringle at the battle of Salamanca, and present at the capture of Madrid and the Retiro, the siege of Burgos, the battles of Nivelle, Nive, St. Pierre, Orthes, and St. Palais. He commanded the 4th Regiment at Waterloo, where he was again wounded. In recognition of his services he had received the gold medal for Badajoz, and the silver war medal with six clasps for the other engagements in which he took part in the Peninsular campaign.


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