Last time, in Part 5 of this series, I looked at the formation of the Légion Britannique, which was a ‘free corps’ raised by Hanover in 1759 at British expense, given a French name, fighting against France under the British flag, though under Hanoverian command, before finally being handed to Prussia… Confused…?
This time I’m going to look at the 4th & 5th Battalions, as well as the Legion’s massed Dragoon Squadrons:
Above: DeLaune’s (4th) Battalion of the Légion Britannique. Major William DeLaune (also sometimes spelled ‘DeLawn’, ‘De l’Ane’ or ‘DeLanne’) was unusual among the Légion Britannique, in that he was seconded from the British, rather than the Hanoverian Army.
He had originally been commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 20th Foot, though when the regiment’s 2nd Battalion was re-titled as the 67th Foot (Wolfe’s Regiment) in 1758, De Laune was promoted to Captain in the new regiment and accompanied it to Canada. Wolfe was clearly impressed by the young officer and had him command 24 light infantry volunteers in the leading boat at the Battle of Québec, which he did with great gallantry and success. De Laune was then one of two officers selected to accompany Wolfe’s body back to Britain. There was also mention of him as a ‘Major’ in Canada, though this seems to have been a local acting rank, as he remained on the Army List as ‘Captain’ until his death.
It’s not clear as to exactly what happened next, but having arrived back in England as something of a hero, DeLaune was clearly considered to be just the sort of man to be commanding a light infantry unit such as the 4th Battalion of the Légion Britannique. Perhaps John Beckwith (Commanding Officer of the 20th Foot), who would have known DeLaune from his time in the 20th, had something to do with the appointment? In any case, this was a curious decision, as DeLaune spoke neither German or French!
Sadly, DeLaune came to a sticky end at Stadtberg on 27th January 1761 when, having failed to place picquets for the night, his battalion was surprised in its camp, with over 200 being captured. DeLaune himself, despite being undressed, refused to surrender and was killed. It’s not clear who commanded the battalion after this date.
Above: DeLaune’s (4th) Battalion of the Légion Britannique. This unit wore red coats with light blue cuffs and turnbacks and white metal buttons. Hat-tassels were white. Waistcoats were a pale shade of straw.
Above: DeLaune’s (4th) Battalion of the Légion Britannique. Again, I’m lightly in disagreement with David over his choice of flag colour, as he interpreted the facing colour as more of a blue-grey/turquoise/sea-green shade. But as before, David does a wonderful job, so I’ve used the flags regardless (my 4th Battalion clearly had a misunderstanding over the colour swatches at their tailor’s)! 🙂
[Stop Press: David has just given us a preview of a new version of the 4th Battalion flag, in glorious light blue! However, he’s changed the design to an even more pleasing version, with the badge of Hanover in the centre and the Roman numeral in the canton. He’s changing ALL the flags, so I’ll have to go back and change the lot… You can go right off some people…]
Above: DeLaune’s (4th) Battalion of the Légion Britannique in skirmish order.
Above: The Dragoon Squadron of DeLaune’s (4th) Battalion of the Légion Britannique. As usual, the Dragoon Squadron wore the same uniform as the parent battalion, with the addition of a button-coloured (white) aiguillette on the right shoulder. Horse furniture was the same for all squadrons; red with button-coloured lace edging and embroidery.
Above: Fircks’ (5th) Battalion of the Légion Britannique. This battalion was officially commanded by Major von Fircks for the duration of the war, though executive command was actually exercised by a Major von Mauw for most of that time (for reasons that are unclear).
Above: Fircks’ (5th) Battalion of the Légion Britannique. This unit also wore red coats with white metal buttons, though this time with black cuffs, white turnbacks and white waistcoats.
Above: Fircks’ (5th) Battalion of the Légion Britannique. David’s lovely flags again follow the British regulations of the period, which stated that regiments with black facings were to have a Regimental Colour with a black field. superimposed with a red St George’s Cross.
Above: Fircks’ (5th) Battalion of the Légion Britannique deployed in skirmish order.
Above: The Dragoon Squadron of Fircks’ (5th) Battalion of the Légion Britannique. Once again, the squadron wore the uniform of the parent battalion, though with a button-coloured (white) aiguillette on the right shoulder and red horse furniture with button-coloured lace edging and embroidery.
Above: The massed Dragoon Squadrons of the Légion Britannique. As discussed in Part 5, each battalion of the Légion Britannique had its own organic Dragoon Squadron, comprising 101 men at full strength. However, in battle the five dragoon squadrons were often grouped together as an ad hoc regiment. One well-recorded example is that of the Battle of Warburg, fought on 31st July 1760, where the five squadrons were grouped together on the right flank of the Legion, under the command of one Major von Hattorf. This grouping was formalised in October 1762, when the five squadrons were officially brought together under Hattorf’s command as Dragoon Regiment ‘Von Hattorf’.
Above: The massed Dragoon Squadrons of the Légion Britannique. Old Glory 15s do actually produce a dedicated Légion Britannique Dragoon pack, but as luck would have it, I happened to have 15 spare Old Glory 15s Austrian Dragoons, which would serve perfectly well as Légion Britannique Dragoons. Each squadron works out at around two figures apiece, though my ‘normal’ unit size is 12 figures, so I added two extra figures to the 1st Squadron (in the centre). Sue me.
Above: The massed Dragoon Squadrons of the Légion Britannique. I’ve already covered all the uniform details, so I won’t repeat myself here. I wanted to use the 1st Squadron guidon as the unit standard, so 1st Squadron needed to go in the centre… Not very historical, but again, sue me… So from left to right as we look at them, we have the 4th Squadron, 2nd Squadron, 1st Squadron, 3rd Squadron and 5th Squadron.
Above: The massed Dragoon Squadrons of the Légion Britannique. David Morfitt again came to the rescue with regard to flags, producing a very nice sheet of five squadron guidons. They’re in typical British style; the crowned central panel has the letters ‘LB D’ for ‘Légion Britannique Dragoons’. Two of the corner panels have the running horse badge of Hanover, while the other two panels have the squadron number in Roman numerals. It’s just a shame to waste the other five guidons! 🙁
Anyway, that’s it for the Légion Britannique! They’ll probably be getting their first outing on the wargames table in November, when we’ve got a refight of the Battle of Warburg planned as part of a tabletop game event to be held in Tenby. There’s also a small wargame local club open day at Haverfordwest Cricket Club next Saturday (23rd September) and we’re going to be refighting the Battle of Clostercamp. I’ve therefore been doing rather a lot of painting (despite now having the title ‘Monopthalmos’), including these rather spiffing Hessian gunners. I just love those guns…