in 1811 the men from the Middlesex Regiment (The TV series starring Sean Bean was based on them) were part of the British forces fighting under the Duke of Wellington against Napoleon.
On this very day, May 16th, the Middlesex Regiment were entrusted to stop the advance of the French into Portugal or the British could have been trapped in Dunkirk fashion with their backs against the sea.
Instead of Dunkirk the village on the Spanish/Portuguese borders was Albuhera, and it was here the Middlesex men fought ferociously to keep at bay the overwhelming forces and might of Napoleon’s army to give time for the British and Wellington to retrench.
The commanding officer of the young Middlesaxon fighters yelled at the height of battle “Die hard my men, die hard”. After this tumultuous, history-turning event the Middlesex Regiment became known as the Diehards and on their Regimental badge are inscribed the words “Albuhera”.
And this is one reason why on this day. May 16th, we salute all the men of Middlesex who have fought under their County’s banner from their earliest recorded battle – the Battle of Hastings in 1066 right through English and British history to similar actions as at Albuhera in the First World War, World War II and Korea.
As the supporters of the Middlesex Regiment gathers today in their HQ from their museum at Bruce Castle in Tottenham to their barracks in Mill Hill and Hounslow and one of their regimental drums at St. Mary’s Church, Staines, we must remember the history and heritage of this band of soldiers who have inspired generations to be proud of their County and who have scuppered the plans of more than one dictator at the eleventh hour.
Now the fight to retain the magnificent and honourable Middlesex name is against bureaucracy, or some politicians who wish to merge, disband or abolish a century of history.
That is why May 16th has come to mean more than a battle for it has become the loadstone of perpetual Middlesex pride, lest we forget this is the name that men through over a thousand years of history have rallied to in England and Britain’s defence.
Middlesex have never let our country down, but there are those who have let our County down, lest they forget May 16th is our day,
Middlesex Day, we will remember them.