Sunday 14th May 2017
The Chairman of the Friends of the British Cemetery, Nick Hallidie, welcomed visitors including Senhor Nuno Mocinha, Presidente da Camâra Municipal de Elvas, with the words: “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, including 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 a trophy to Mariana Messias for the best at English out of 400 pupils from the school “Agrupamento de Escolas No3 de Elvas”.
The following laid wreaths:
Lord Decies Friends of the British Cemetery on Maj Gen Daniel Hoghton’s Grave
Maj Gen Rui Moura Portuguese Army on Lt Col James Ward Oliver’s Grave
Juan Zuleta & Antonio Martínez Buzo Milicia Universitaria on the Albuera Wall
Anton Herzog Peninsular War 200 at the PW 200 plaque
Joao da Silveira The Order of Malta on the Albuera Wall
Sharon Herzog King’s German Legion on the Albuera Wall
Bryan Hazard 3rd Foot The Buffs on the Albuera Wall
Neil Holding 5th Foot Northumberland Fusiliers on the Badajoz Wall
Col Patrick Crowley East Surrey Regiment (31st & 70th) on the Albuera Wall
Mike Byham48th Foot Northamptonshire RegimentBadajoz Wall
Major Paul Senter, 57th Foot Middlesex Regiment on the Albuera Wall
John Raby & Alan Richardson 57th Foot Middlesex Regiment on the Albuera Wall
Maj Paul Senter The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers on the Albuera Wall
Lt Col Anthony Collis Light Dragoons on the Albuera Wall
Denis Casey The Royal Irish Regiments on the Badajoz Wall
Col Patrick Crowley Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment on the Albuera Wall
TteCol Joaquim Bucho Museu Militar de Elvas on the Badajoz Wall
Coronel de Cavalaria - Paulo Ramos Portuguese Army on the Albuera Wall
Col Alfonso Molla Lorente Spanish Army on the Albuera Wall
Dr Nuno Mocinha Presidente da Camãra Municipal de Elvas on the Albuera Wall
Julio Macho Quintero Representing the Alcalde de La Albuera on the Albuera Wall
Sgt João Jose Baltasar Representing the Liga de Combatentes on the Albuera Wall
Prayers and Blessings
Padre Carlos, Spanish Army Chaplain.
Maria, Trumpeter from the ‘Banda 14 de Janeiro’, played the Last Post and Reveille