Hedon – The Battle of Waterloo – Letters written on the way to the battlefield

DR MARTIN CRAVEN of Hedon Museum Society has written the letter below regarding a fascinating link that Hedon has with the Battle of Waterloo which was fought 200 years ago (1815) near to the place (in present day Belgium) that gave the battle its name. It was at Waterloo that the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by a coalition of other European armies led by the British under the command of the Duke of Wellington.

“The 18th June will mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. This famous victory over Napoleon ended more than twenty years of conflict in Europe.

Dr Martin Craven

Dr Martin Craven – Hedon Museum Society

“In 1808, a Hedon girl, Jane Webster, married a soldier in St Augustine’s Church. The soldier was John Herron, originally from Ireland and now a private in the Inniskillings Dragoon Guards. The couple stayed long enough in Hedon to have a son, William born in 1810. Then Jane followed her husband on his various postings.

“In April 1815 John left Jane, now expecting her third child, at Derby, setting out with his regiment en route to Waterloo. On his journey John wrote two letters to Jane. Sadly he never returned to Jane as both he and his brother were both killed in the battle.

“Jane returned to Hedon and brought up her three children in the Borough. In time the family simplified their name to ‘Heron’ and descendants of John and Jane still live in Hedon.

“The two letters written by John have been kept safely by the family and they will be on display in the Hedon Museum during the month of June 2015.”

Hedon Museum is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10am – 4pm. Admission is free. Tea and coffee are available.

If you’ve never been to the Museum, then look for the signs that are placed in Hedon town centre every open day.

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Additional historical note about John’s regiment at the Battle of Waterloo: The 6th Inniskillings were part of the Union Brigade of Heavy Cavalry commanded by General Ponsonby. At a critical point in the battle, at 2.00 pm, the two brigades of Heavy cavalry (the other was the Household Brigade) were ordered to charge a massive French assault of infantry and cavalry which was bearing down on the allied line. The charge of the Heavy cavalry saved the day. The Union Brigade smashed into the French infantry and then on to the artillery. But the charge carried on too far and the Inniskillings were attacked by fresh French cavalry and suffered heavy casualties: 193 out of 400, plus 190 horses. General Ponsonby was killed. – Inniskillings Museum

Photo: Actually the 2nd Dragoons (Scots Greys). The 6th Inniskillings were part of the Union Brigade of Heavy Cavalry alongside the 1st Dragoons (Royals) and 2nd Dragoons (Scots Greys) commanded by General Ponsonby. Shared via Getty Images.

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