Drummer Billy Wilson

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Tiny Castle
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Drummer Billy Wilson

Postby Tiny Castle » Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:06 am

Hi

I hope someone can help me, I am part of a new group that is forming the 32nd Cornwall regiment of foot.

Several people have mentioned Drummer Billy Wilson as being a hero of Badajoz by drumming, even though wounded, to encourage men into the breach. The story goes that General Hill presented Billy with a medal at church parade before the Badajoz medal was generally given.



Although this is "known" in Cornwall I am having severe trouble finding reference to it in any of the usual books, does anyone have any information that we can use for our interesting bits on display to the public.

I have tried a quick look through Hills letters on Google but still came up blank.

all info would be gratefully received.

Many thanks

Tiny



Merlon

Postby Merlon » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:05 am

I'm sorry to say that the 32nd does not list Badajoz as a battle honour. The following regiments only have Badajoz as a battle honour , namely 4th, 5th, 7th, 23rd,27th, 30th, 38th, 40th, 43rd, 44th, 45th, 48th, 52nd, 60th, 74th, 77th, 83rd, 88th and Rifle Brigade.

contct details for Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Museum are at
http://www.armymuseums.org.uk/museums/0000000026-Duke-of-Cornwall-s-Light-Infantry-Museum.htm

http://www.regiments.org/regiments/uk/inf/032DCLI.htm

http://lightinfantry.org.uk/regiments/dcli/duke_timeline.htm


32nd were at Salamanca maybe something occured there?
Last edited by Merlon on Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tiny Castle
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Postby Tiny Castle » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:36 am

Hi Merlon

Thanks for the reply

I have been to the Bodmin Museum (and extremely helpful they were) to do some research and although the 32nd is not listed as being at Badajoz I assume Billy Wilson and his father were attached to another regiment or later transfered into the 32nd.
Billys father was said to have been killed guarding a caravan in India much later whereas Billy although wounded became a big noise in the local council around St Austell. Tbe story goes that a man by the name of Dodds or Dobbs shot the Frenchie that wounded Billy. But with the various spellings of name and them not being "hocifficers" its hard to trace.
Many thanks
Tiny



Merlon

Postby Merlon » Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:13 pm

On doing a bit more research, it appears that pre 1814 medals were issued to officers only.
The only other medal that might be eligible is "The Military General Service Medal 1793 - 1814". This was offered to surviving veterans in 1847 with a clasp for each battle honour.

Sorry



Tiny Castle
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Postby Tiny Castle » Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:27 pm

Hi Merlon

You seem to be having the same dead ends as I had

The reason that Billy was so well remembered was that a senior officer possibly Gen Hill himself was so impressed by Billys actions that he took a medal of his own (or had one produced) and presented it to Billy at a Sunday church parade.
When Billy was later awarded a medal/clasp the story goes that he refused it and opted to keep the one he had originally been presented with.

There isnt much more to tell or is there?

Many thanks
Tiny



Tiny Castle
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Postby Tiny Castle » Thu Dec 06, 2007 10:35 am

The information I have been given with no evidence to back it up
Is that they often mis-spelled names either on purpose or due to errors.
There was a letter? written from the peninsula The Wilsons Mum Martha Dad Henry and Billy boy
The story goes that General (Lord?) Hill mentions the incident in Four letters but I have scanned those available on the web with no luck.
The Chaplain finished his sermon on a Sunday after Badajoz 1812 and then Billy was presented with a medal that was made up for him we dont know what it was exactly. Billy was assualting the "small" breach when he was wounded in the left arm and right leg but kept on drumming covered by his father and a man named Dobbs who shot a fusilier dead.
It is said he did recieve the Badajoz medal later in life, is there such a medal?
Billy and his mother came back to St Austell in 1817 and set himself up as a carpenter under another name in order to get onto the local council
Dad Harry became a Captain in the East India company and was shot dead while on patrol protecting trade goods.
That is about all we can get but actual evidence that we can quote is proving very hard to get, I have contacted St Austell council and not recieved a reply and really am just hoping that somone will just say oh yes in a certain book there is reference to the incident.
Recently reading Richard Holmes "Redcoat" it seems that disgraced soldiers were given the option to serve abroad permenantly could this have been Harrys punishment?



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wurzul
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Postby wurzul » Mon Dec 10, 2007 1:46 pm

Hi Tiny,
The Military General Service Medal 1793/1814 had a clasp for Badajoz. This would have been issued to Billy later in life, since it wasn't released until 1847 (?) Naval and Military Press have a roll of recipients available.

http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:hn4R ... =clnk&cd=3

Some forward thinking individual Commanding Officers issued Regimental awards to their troops for superior service or bravery. Regimental medals were awarded to deserving officers and men by their regiment, and were the only means of recognising outstanding service.
It sounds like thats what Billy received. Theres an example of one awarded after Ciudad Rodrigo here (about halfway down).

http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:HIu1 ... =clnk&cd=2

It might be worth raising it with the British medal forum, they are very knowledgeable (dontcha just love the interweb!)

Have you considered going through the muster rolls at the National Archives? Its a schlep but you never know..

Cheers, Ben



Tiny Castle
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Postby Tiny Castle » Mon Dec 10, 2007 2:12 pm

Hi Ben
Thanks for helping
I am narrowing the search down day by day
really good web site from digger
Hope to be able to post somthing positive on this site soon
(with everyones help)



Tiny Castle
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Postby Tiny Castle » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:43 am

Has anyone seen reference to this person in any of Ian Fletchers excellant books on the peninsula war



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wurzul
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Postby wurzul » Thu Dec 13, 2007 3:37 pm

Tiny,
I had a flick through 'In hell before Daylight', the Badajoz tome, and found nothing. :( I see he had another out on Badajoz in 2005; perhaps there is new material in that?
Cheers, Ben



Tiny Castle
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Postby Tiny Castle » Fri Dec 14, 2007 12:41 am

Thanks for looking I can cross that one off the list

I have seen he edited a book called "recollections of an old 52nd man" witten by a soldier by the name of Dobbs which is the name of the soldier that killed the French fusilier that wounded Billy. I have ordered it and heres hoping.

Tiny



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wurzul
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Postby wurzul » Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:36 am

Tiny,
What regiment do you have Billy in at Badajoz? I'll be in Kew next week and IF I have time I'll pull the muster roll. PM me if you want to chat further.
Cheers, Ben



Merlon

Postby Merlon » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:14 am

Tiny castle's PM to me reads
[The story goes that General (Lord?) Hill mentions the incident in Four letters but I have scanned those available on the web with no luck.
The Chaplain finished his sermon on a Sunday after Badajoz 1812 and then Billy was presented with a medal that was made up for him we dont know what it was exactly. Billy was assualting the "small" breach when he was wounded in the left arm and right leg but kept on drumming covered by his father and a man named Dobbs who shot a fusilier dead.]

If Dobbs was in the 52nd Foot that means it was the Light Division along with 43rd Foot along with 1/95th and 3/95th Rifles.

There were three breaches at Badajoz, in the Trinidad and Santa Maria bastions also in the wall between them. The Light Division assaulted the Santa Maria breach Despite numerous assualts the breach was barely contested at the summit. The Light Division lost 68 officers and 861 men killed and wounded out of 3000 commited to the assault.
The only real benefit of the breach assualt was to draw French attention away from the diversionary attacks made by Picton, Leith and Powers which actually carried the town.




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