MILITARY GENERAL SERVICE 1793-1814, 3 CLASPS ROLEIA, TALAVERA, ALBUHERA ‘R. FRIEUR, 29TH FOOT’
Richard Friar, age 22 from Sedbergh, Yorkshire, enlisted into the 29th Foot on 14th September 1807. Friar served with his regiment during its entire service in the Peninsular but seems to have been somewhat of a bullet magnet as he was wounded in all three major battles he took part in. According to his record of service;
‘His period of service being expired and was wounded in the right breast and left shoulder severely at Roliea in Portugal 17 August 1808 again at Talavera in the left knee, ball lodged, on 28th July 1809 and again at Albuhera 16th May 1811 and in the right thigh severely’.
Even after all these wounds, Friar would continue in service with his regiment until he was finally discharged on 1st August 1815.
At what was the first battle of the Peninsular War, the 29th Foot suffered by far the heaviest casualties at Roleia; 33 men being killed and 118 officers and men wounded, which was not far off 3 times more the number suffered by the regiment with the next highest casualties. At the Battle of Talavera, the casualties were also very high, the 29th suffering a further 183 in killed and wounded. However at the bloodbath at Albuhera, the regiment, who formed part of Hoghton’s Brigade (along with the 1/48th and 1/57th), took a catastrophic number of casualties. Going into action with just 507 men, 324 officers and men of the 29th were killed and wounded!
After the battle what was left of the battalion was formed into a provisional Brigade with what was left of seven other equally battered battalions. In August 1811 the 29th was formed into a provisional battalion, along with the 2/31st and 66th Foot. However in October 1811 they were ordered home to recruit and did not return to the peninsular.
Military General Service medals to the 29th Foot are one of the scarcer regiments on the market with just 150 medals being awarded, a large number of these being held in the Regimental museum. Regimentally the maximum number of clasps is 5, the others being Vimiera (after Roleia) and Busaco (after Talavera). Friar was no doubt in hospital being treated for wounds during these battles.
Excellent accounts of the 29th Foots service at the battles Friar served at can be found on the excellent Regimental Museum website:
A note regarding the surname on the medal: The Military General Service Roll by Mullin states; ‘Not on roll. I have seen this medal and it is undoubtedly genuine. Frieur on medal. On musters and discharge papers 8/8/15 as Friar and Friear. Private collection 1978’.
However this is incorrect, Friar is on the original medal roll; see picture (copy full page included). On this roll, the roll that was used to name the medal, his name is down as ‘Richard Friear’! Therefore what we have is Richard Friar’s medal, which when applying for the medal was incorrectly transcribed as ‘Friear’ and when being named a ‘U’ was impressed in error instead of a ‘A’.
Condition NVF, 3 EK’s between 5 and 6 o’clock, otherwise GVF. Sold with copy discharge papers. To have a medal to a soldier who was wounded at all three of his clasp actions, is quite a rarity, especially so as these are the 29th’s best clasps.