domingo, 20 de mayo de 2012

Charles Elwell, Captain of the Grenadier Guards

 Este es el discurso (en inglés) que hizo Charles Elwell, Capitán de los Grenadier Guards el 5 de mayo de 2012. En la foto vemos a Charles Elwell entregando al alcalde una estatua en plata de un Grenadier Guard.

I am here to represent Her Majesty´s First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards, the regiment of Colquitt and the regiment I also serve, when required, but from which I retired many years ago. I am here to express our appreciation of the manner in which you are commemorating Col Colquitt and of the honour you do him and to us, his regiment. We give our heartfelt thanks to all those who have made this occasion possible;
Firstly to His Excellency the Mayor, their excellencies of the town hall and, above all to the people of Alcalá de Guadaira. The effort and cost you have expended to enable this occasion to take place is an example of the sort of solidarity and generosity shown during the best moments of the time when our two nations fought together during the War of Independence. The very difficult economic conditions we are living through at present make this effort all the more laudable.
Second, I must thank you members of The Association of the English Cross. It was your curiosity backed by dogged detective work which set the whole thing alight. In particular I must thank Andrew Martin who has been such a solid supporter of this event.
Third, thanks and congratulations to the Colquitt clan. Under the leadership of Sam Westmacott you have demonstrated a determination and tenacity worthy of your ancestor and without which this would not have come to pass.
Please will you allow me a few words to talk about the origins and history of our regiment. We were first formed around the person of the man who was to become Charles the Second who was then in exile in Bruges. At that time, as you will be aware, Bruges was under the dominion of the Spanish crown. The first engagement we were involved in was the Battle of the Dunes when we fought alongside Spanish troops against an English force in what was the last battle of the English Civil War. And so we were born on Spanish soil and fought our first fight with Spanish allies against an English army, and yet when Charles was restored to the throne he decreed that we should be the senior regiment of his guards, ranking above all other infantry regiments in the English army´s order of battle.
Some one hundred and fifty years and many battles later we were again in the Iberian peninsular. The regiment fought from Cadiz to the Pyrenees, passing via Seville where Col. Colquitt fell. It was not long afterwards, on the field of Waterloo that the regiment was involved in the most celebrated action of its long history. After hours of bloody conflict Napoleon, in a last desperate throw of the dice, launched his Imperial Guard at the English line. These superb veterans had been undefeated in dozens of battles throughout Europe and amongst them were the Imperial Grenadiers, the elite of the elite. This force had taken no part in the battle until that moment when they crashed into the depleted and exhausted ranks of His Majesty´s First Regiment of Foot Guards. But the Foot Guards held them. First they held them and, then after the most tremendous conflict they flung them back and charged them. The most feared troops in Europe, the invincible Imperial Guard had been put to flight. Dismay and disbelief swept through the rest of the French army on seeing this and they turned tail, threw down their weapons and ran from the field. It was to honour and remember this historic moment that by Royal Decree the regiment was renamed The First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards, the only regiment in the British army whose name was won on the field of battle.
I suppose that in the minds of many people the Grenadiers are mostly associated with ceremonial duties taking place within the relatively harmless arena of Buckingham Palace. And seeing the magnificent figure of L/Cpl Vickers, who we are so lucky to have present, it is easy to understand why. However, it should be remembered that it is first and foremost an elite fighting force, trained to the very highest standards. Two centuries after Col Colquitt died near here fighting to free Spain the regiment he served continues to shed its blood on foreign soil. The regiment is now in the Helmand province of Afghanistan and just eight days ago Guardsman Roland was killed in action. When we observe silence to remember Col. Colquitt I would ask that you also remember Roland and his family and his comrades. And I ask that we give thanks that there still exist men and women who possess the virtues of courage and honour which shone in Colquitt and who are prepared to pay the ultimate price in defence of those we love and that which we hold dear.
I have with me a present for the people of Alcalá de Guadaira, it is from the Lt. Col. And all ranks of the regiment. It has a plaque inscribed thus
“To the City of Alcalá de Guadaíra from The Regimental Lieutenant Colonel and All Ranks, Grenadier Guards on the occasion of the Inauguration of the Monument in the Cruz del Inglés in memory of Lieutenant Colonel John Scrope Colquitt, hero of the Peninsula War in 1812” .It is a token of gratitude for the honour you have done us and a reminder of the friendship which exists between us.

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