Household Cavalry Museum have launched its new summer exhibition. For the first time in two centuries a Napoleonic Eagle captured on the battlefield at Waterloo is being reunited with the medal of the soldier who won it.
At 2pm on 18th June 1815 Serjeant Francis Styles, a Londoner from Holborn, charged with Wellington’s Heavy Cavalry against the massed ranks of French infantry attacking the allied position. Styles and his Squadron Leader, Captain Alexander Kennedy Clarke, found themselves in the midst of desperate fighting where they seized one of the two Eagles which were captured at Waterloo, writing their names into legend. These two eagles, along with the Duke of Wellington’s dispatches telling of the Allied victory, arrived in London three days after the battle on 21st June 1815, exactly 206 years ago. After more than a decade of war, London and Britain rejoiced.
This summer, as museums and cultural venues finally open fully, the long-lost Waterloo Medal of Serjeant Francis Styles of the Royals (1st Dragoons) – now Blues and Royals – will be displayed at the Household Cavalry Museum on Horse Guards with the actual Eagle of the 105e Regiment d’Infanterie de Ligne, which he captured during that fateful battle.
Styles’s medal was lost to the Regiment after his early death in 1828. It disappeared from the record until last year when it was put up for sale on eBay in the United States. A serving Household Cavalryman, Corporal of Horse Richard Hendy, spotted this and flagged it to the Museum. It was duly purchased for the museum with donations from serving and ex-serving Household Cavalrymen.
Colonel (retd) James Gaselee, the Museum Chairman said, “CoH Hendy’s discovery couldn’t have come at a better time. The Museum has been hit hard by the successive lockdowns and having the medal join our collection, with the loan of the 105th Eagle, will I am sure, draw visitors back to Horse Guards.
“The story of Styles is an epic one and I’m looking forward to others hearing more about him and the incredible characters who charged with him that day. I encourage history fans of all ages to get involved, visit the Museum or follow the Museum on social media to show your support.”
Thanks to the generosity of the National Army Museum, the Eagle so iconic to members of the Blues and Royals and an artefact of national importance, will be loaned to the Household Cavalry Museum to join the medal. Over the summer a special temporary collection will focus on the cavalry heroes of Waterloo – from Jack ‘Bear Shaw’, a champion boxer and male model killed at Waterloo, to Lord Uxbridge, who lost his leg in the closing moments.
Major Tom Mountain (31), the Blues and Royals Squadron Leader said, “Every single soldier in the squadron, and across the regiment, is fiercely proud of the legacy made at Waterloo by Styles and those he rode with. Today we wear the eagle on our sleeves, and for many, we have it tattooed on our skin. It means that much to us. It embodies what it means to be a Household Cavalryman and epitomises the courage, teamwork and sheer grit we expect from our people.”
Justin Maciejewski, Director of the National Army Museum said,“It is a great honour for the National Army Museum to loan the Eagle of Napoleon’s 105th Infantry Regiment, a precious object from our national collection, so it can be reunited with the medals of Serjeant Styles at the Household Cavalry Museum this summer.”
The Museum will reopen fully with the Styles story from June, after a full ceremonial exchange of the eagle on Horse Guards Parade, and will be putting on special Waterloo walking tours, activity trails and special events. The new exhibition trail will explore the courage, carnage and controversies of Wellington’s cavalry at a battle which secured almost a century of peace in Europe.