WATERLOO 1815 ‘LIEUT. W.M. HERN, 2ND BATT. 44TH REG.FOOT.’
At the battle of Quatre Bras, the 44th as part of Sir Dennis Pack’s brigade, along with the 42nd and 92nd Highlanders. During the height of the battle, Pack’s brigade was ordered to take up positions covering the farm of La Bergerie. This strategically important position was just in front of the main crossroads, the high road of which leading to Brussels/Waterloo and the loss of which would threaten the entire Allied position. Advancing in line, the 44th and 42nd were surprised by French lancers , both regiments taking heavy casualties as they did not initially have time to form square. However both regiments eventually managed to form a combined square and the attacks were eventually driven off.
Mauled by French cavalry, the 44th suffered one of the highest casualty rates of the day, particularly in Officers, where they lost 17 of the 25 combat officers killed or wounded!. Praised by Wellington for their steadfastness on this day, two days later they would again be tested, loosing a further 3 Officer and 61 men killed and wounded.
Lieutenant Hearn was in Captain Mackrell’s No 2 Company, along with Lieutenant Martin and Ensign Whitney, both Hearn and Whitney being wounded. Mackrell was not present at Quatrebras/Waterloo as were a large number of Officers, indeed the 44th were only able to field 455 officers and men during the battles of 16th – 18th June 1815. The 44th suffered a 44% casualty during the battles, the majority at Quatre Bras.
The published medal roll from 1992, incorrectly transcribed his name from the original roll as ‘Hearn’. The Original medal roll from which the medal was named, very clearly give his name ‘Hern’, the regimental history ‘Hern’ and ‘Herne’. The Muster/Paylists note him as ‘Hern’ and ‘Hearne’. His record of service gives ‘Hearn’ and it must be assumed, since William wrote the record of service, this must be the correct spelling and is therefore the spelling used in this write up. However if researching further, the use of any of these spellings may gain results.
Condition for a Waterloo medal is a fantastic NEF. Attractive dark patina, with original steel clip to which has been attached with rings and a suspension to form a fob of some sort. The old silk ribbon used is black and the condition of the medal itself suggests if it was used as a fob, it wasn’t used much. Possibly the use of a black ribbon signifies it was used at Hern’s funeral or in mourning?? The ribbon could of course be changed to a standard Waterloo ribbon, however the use of a black ribbon is surely part of its history.
A superb medal to an officer casualty for one of the most desirable Regiments who served in the Waterloo Campaign. Sold with research on CD and copied.