Recce – Redcoats in the Pyrenees

 

The second of the Guild recces on the Peninsular War found found Members in the Pyrenees between 26th and 30 July. Let by Graeme Cooper, we knew from the previous recce that we were going to be in for a treat.

The purpose of the 5-day recce was to visit the 1813-14 Peninsular War battlefields of the Pyrenees and follows the footsteps and actions of an army that had been built and nurtured by a great leader over the five preceding years. The battlefield of Vitoria where Wellington achieved one of his greatest victories. After a strenuous (for some!) stroll , we took in the land bridge at Sorauren to look at Foy’s demise. Then it was the Pass at Roncesvalles and the Pass at Maya where George Bell witnessed the carnage of being on the back foot.

At Vera, we visited the scene of Cadoux’s action at the Bridge where 10,000 French were stranded on the Allied side of the river searching for a crossing point. They found a narrow stone bridge which was defended by 80 of the 95th Regiment. The ‘Grasshoppers’ held the bridge for 2 hours until being overwhelmed. Captain Cadoux was killed. Perhaps the highlight of that day was the search led by Graeme, which seemed like a wild goose chase at the time, which culminated, with the help of a large slice of sheer luck, in finding the lost grave of Captain Cadoux in a small local cemetery. Many years of ivy which had grown over the memorial were cleared by a gardening detail while puzzled locals looked on.

We then went on to recce the Nive, St Pierre, Vera, San Marcial, and the Nivelle battlefields.

We had a beautiful final day before departures in San Sebastian looking at the siege and assault and the Crossings of the Bidassoa.