40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot
The 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot
The regiment was raised at Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia in August 1717. After forty years in Nova Scotia, the 40th where relieved by the 43rd regiment and went to Halifax to prepare for service in the Seven Years' War. They also saw service in Barbados and Cuba. In 1763 the regiment returned to Nova Scotia where it served until 1767 when it was transferred to Ireland.
This was the first time in its 48 year history that the regiment served on British soil, but not for long. The regiment was sent to serve in the American Revolutionary War in June 1775 and took part in several engagements over the next 8 years. In August 1782, the regiment took a county title as the 40th (the 2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot and embarked for home in November 1783. For the rest of the century the regiment saw service in a wildly spread variety of locations, from the West Indies to Holland, South America to Egypt.
In July 1808 the regiment embarked for Portugal as part of Sir Arthur Wellesley's army for service in the Peninsular War. They fought in the very first battle of that campaign at Roliça in August 1808 and went on to take part in almost every major engagement including Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Salamanca, and Vitoria. They then pursued the French Army into France and fought at the Battles of the Pyrenees, Nivelle, and Orthez before taking part the final battle of Toulouse in April 1814. The regiment returned home in June and in October they were sent to New Orleans for service in the continuing ‘War of 1812’ returning home at the end of that conflict in March 1815.
In May 1815 the regiment was rushed to join with Wellington's army just before the Battle of Waterloo commenced. Initially placed in reserve, they were later in the day moved to the centre of his line to a position near La Haye Sainte. They held firm all day and helped drive off Napoleon's final massed infantry attack, ultimately losing 170 killed or wounded, including their commanding officer Major Arthur Rowley Heyland. The regiment then formed part of the Army of Occupation until returning to England in April 1817.
The facings of the 40th regiment were buff as were their straps, which was a common practice among regiments with ‘Buff’ facings. The officer’s braid and buttons were gilt and their breeches were also Buff.
310gm Limited edition of 50 c/w authentication certificate
Illustration by David Higham