Monthly Archives: February 2016

Lieutenant Arthur Brooke, 44th Regiment, in Flanders 1794-5

Continuing my interest in the Duke of York’s campaign in 1793-5 in Flanders and the Netherlands, I visited the Pubic Record Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast. Included in their archives is Arthur Brooke’s diary of his war experiences between 1794 and 1814. His diary is more famous for his account of his participation in the 1812-14 war with the USA, but also includes his experiences in the Mediterranean theatre during the Napoleonic Wars. Unfortunately his diary for 1794 & 1795 deals more with the dreadful retreat than the fighting, but is still of great interest;

“On the 31st of October 1793 got my first commission in the 44th Regiment as Ensign, & joined it in Dublin Barracks, where I was quartered till the 25th April 1794, when I embarked at the Pigeon House for England. Landed at Liverpool and marched from thence to Dartford & Gravesend, marched through London. The year 1794 embarked at Gravesend for Ostend to join the Duke of York’s army. Went from Ostend to Antwerp. Antwerp a beautiful town, the church an elegant structure. I there saw a fine picture of Christ ascending to Heavan. Marched from Antwerp to Breda from thence to Bois-le-Duc & from there to Nuimegon[sic] on the banks of the Waal, where we took up our position till late November, when the British army retired[?] across the Rhine , I never saw a more dreadful retreat. Men women & children were froze to death & the greater part of the Army lost; this dreadful weather lasted till March, when we arrived at Hamburgh and in April embarked for England, when I arrived on the 25th of May 1795 at Sunderland, in the north of England.”

(Source: PRONI D3004D/1, p. 1)

Although he doesn’t mention it in his diary Brooke was promoted to Lieutenant on the 26th November 1793 (Source: Army List 1795, p.142). Lt Brooke left the UK with Lord Moira’s force which was sent to reinforce the Duke of York’s army. Thus, Sir Arthur Brooke would have fought at Boxtel with the 44th Foot in Wellington’s First Battle.


Lt Brooke with the 44th Regiment at Boxtel - in reserve at right rear.

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in the Titanic Quarter, Belfast


Firing Shells from Long Guns in 1779

Following on from my article regarding the use of howitzer shells in long guns in the 1793-5 campaigns in Flanders, here is the full text from the experiments during the siege of Gibraltar;

“(Sept. 25) An experiment was recomd. by Capt. (now Major) Mercier, 39 regt., viz.: to fire out of guns 51/2″ shells with short fuses, which was tried on 25 Sept. and found to answer extremely well. These small shells, according to Mercier’s method, were despatched with such precision, and the fuses calculated to such exactness that the shell often burst over the enemy and wounded them before they could get under cover. This mode of annoyance was desirable on many accounts: less powder, and the enemy more seriously molested. The former was an advantage of no small consequence since it enabled the Governor to reserve, at this period, what might probably be expended to greater benefit on some future occasion; it will also account for the extraordinary no. of shells which were discharged from the Garrison. The enemy attempted this practice, but never could bring it to perfection.”

(Source: Minutes of the Proceedings of the Royal Artillery Institution, vol.29, 1902-3, p.93)

The Great Siege
Stewart and Shells for long guns in Flanders

Long gun at Gibraltar - (c) Scott Wylie