Waterloo 1815, Corporal Charles Conwell, 52nd Foot, who particularly distinguished himself in the advanced party of the stormers of St. Sebastian.
Charles was born in Artera, Magherafelt, Co. Derry, he enlisted at Belfast for the 52nd Foot 10th September 1806, aged 33, for unlimited service.
He went on to fight with the Regiment throughout the Peninsula, he was present at the Storming of St. Sebastian 31st August 1813, and is specially commended on his papers as being a member of the bravest of the first soldiers into battle, who volunteered as part of the ‘Forlorn Hope’.
The battle began at 9am on the 26th August with heavy bombardment from 30 guns in two batteries facing the site of the old breach. The artillery reopened at dawn on the 31st, by a stroke of good fortune one shit had disabled a mine which had been laid under the main breach. at 10.55 am, one hour ahead of low tide, the bombardment lifted and this is when the assault against the main breach began. The Forlorn Hope consisted of fifty volunteers from each battalion of the 1st, 4th and Light Divisions totalling 750 brave men, who proceeded to begin the British assault on the fortress.
Although Charles served during the Peninusla he did not receive an M.G.S., the Waterloo is his sole entitlement.
He is on the roll as entitled to the rare 52nd Foot Regimental Medal ‘Forlorn Hope Medal’ (Balmer R390). During the Peninsular War, the 52nd fulfilled their dual role as line and light infantry by contributing to fortress assault parties.
The companies that led the breach assaults were known as the "Forlorn Hope", (from the Dutch "verloren hoop" (lost troop)).
It was deemed an act of high honour, since the lead troops faced the greatest danger. The 52nd contributed to the Forlorn Hope at the sieges of Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz (1812) and San Sebastian. Officers and sergeants who survived would be very likely be put up for battlefield promotions (although it was not assured) while other ranks would receive laurels from their commander also with the chance of promotion being greatly increased. The 52nd, however, offered its own recognition: those who survived the Forlorn Hope at Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz were entitled to wear on their right arm a badge displaying a laurel wreath and the letters "V.S." for "Valiant Stormer". This honour was awarded by the 52nd's commanding officer, and was restricted to the 52nd.