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.