THE BATTLE OF MINDEN – 1st AUGUST 1759
“Minden” was the second battle honour awarded to the 25th (Edinburgh Regiment), as the Kings Own Scottish Borderers were then called, and the battle is celebrated on the 1st August every year.
During the Seven Years war against France a combined force of British and German allies was operating in the valley of the River Wasser near the town of Minden. The six British battalions were the 12th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 37th and 51st Regiments of Foot, now the Royal Anglian Regiment, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, The Kings Own Scottish Borderers, the Royal Hampshire Regiment and the Light Infantry. The supporting artillery batteries were the predecessors of 32nd (MINDEN) Battery, 16 Light Air Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery, 20 Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery.
Owing to a misunderstanding in the passage of orders, the six British Infantry Regiments advanced alone against the main body of the French cavalry in the centre. Seeing this confusion Prince Ferdinand, the German Commander of the allied forces, ordered the Hanovarian Guards on the left flank to advance whilst the British Cavalry of the right wing were to move behind the infantry to support them. The cavalry commander, Lord George Sackville, disobeyed orders and declined to take part in the charge, as a result, the cavalry took no active part in the battle.
Seeing the advance of so small a force, the French sent their cavalry, 10000 strong, to the charge. The six British battalions halted and by close range, well aimed volleys, broke up the French attack. The enemy cavalry reformed and attacked on six separate occasions. Only on one occasion did the enemy cavalry succeed in penetrating the front rank, and they were almost annihilated by the second rank. Finally all 63 squadrons were sent flying in disorder.
The British Infantry continued to advance and coming under the cross fire of sixty guns and musketry fire from enemy infantry, suffered heavily. The French threw in two Brigades in an effort to stem the tide but they were quickly broken. Finally in desperation a large body of their Saxon allies were sent to counter attack, but they fared no better than their French predecessors and he whole enemy line broke in panic. Had the British Cavalry then attacked, the slaughter would have been immense. As it was, the enemy lost 7000 men to the allies 2800, over 1500 of which were lost by the British Battalions. 25th Foot: 7 officers and 138 men killed and wounded.
Visiting the scene of the battle afterwards, Prince Ferdinand remarked,” It was here that the British Infantry won immortal glory”.
In memory of our ancestors who earned his battle honour and who picked roses from the gardens of Minden on their way to battle, we of the Minden Regiments wear roses in our head dress on this proud day.
Always a Borderer