sábado, 28 de abril de 2012

Gibraltar Chronicle, Friday April 27th 2012

Memorial for officer 200 years on

Grenadier Guard Lance Corporal George Vickers, 22, who is charged with sounding the Last Post during a memorial service on May 5 in Alcala de Guadaira.

A Grenadier Guards officer who died fighting for the Duke of Wellington two centuries ago is to receive a 10,000 euro (£8,175) memorial in the Spanish town where he was laid to rest.
Lieutenant Colonel John Scrope Colquitt of the First Foot Guards died of fever in either Seville or nearby Utrera, Spain, on September 4, 1812 after fighting Napoleon’s troops in temperatures of 40 degrees during the Peninsular War.

On May 5, a memorial will be unveiled in the neighbouring town of Alcala de Guadaira at the site where Lt Col Colquitt was buried, as a member of the Grenadier Guards in full regimental uniform sounds the Last Post on the bugle.

The monument will be situated in a part of town known as La Cruz del Ingles (the Englishman’s Cross) after the cross which once stood over Lt Col Colquitt’s grave.

Its inauguration comes as Spain commemorates the bi-centenary of events in the Peninsular War, which pitted the allied nations of Britain, Spain and Portugal against Napoleonic France and lasted from 1808 to 1814.

Relatives of the soldier will travel from Britain to join local historians, dignitaries and representatives of the Grenadier Guards.

Among them will be psychologist and author Sam Westmacott, who only discovered she was Lt Col Colquitt’s cousin five times removed when a local history group investigating his story contacted her.

The story of how Lt Col Colquitt’s remains came to rest in Alcala de Guadaira and the origins of the name “the Englishman’s Cross” have only recently emerged from the mists of time.

Born in 1775 in Liverpool, he was the son of the city’s bailiff and studied at Rugby public school and Trinity College, Cambridge, before joining the elite Foot Guards regiment as an ensign.

During the Iberian campaign, Lt Col Colquitt fought the French in the liberation of Cadiz and then led his men into battle in Seville on April 27 1812.

Upon his demise a few days later, members of his battalion carried their 37-year-old leader’s remains to Alcala de Guadaira, where they were stationed.

They asked the locals for a Christian service and burial, but the Spanish would not allow his body to be laid to rest in the town’s cemetery because he was an Anglican “heathen”.

Instead they offered a stone cross as a burial site on a hill outside the town.

An eccentric Scottish adventurer and friend of Lt Col Colquitt, Lieutenant Colonel John Downie, later went to the town and carved a tombstone under the cross.

As Alcala de Guadaira expanded over the decades, the cross and Lt Col Colquitt’s remains were moved elsewhere.


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