A Ballymena soldier will be under the spotlight at national commemorations for Waterloo 200 when he carries the Duke of Wellington’s baton into St Paul’s Cathedral in front of the Royal Family and assembled dignitaries.
Ranger Joseph Nixon (19) from Ballymena is serving with the Royal Irish Regiment, one of whose ‘ancestral units’ was the famous 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot who held their square despite ferocious enemy fire at the battle 200 years ago.
Because of the valour of both the Inniskillings and the Connaught Rangers throughout the Peninsula Wars, the Royal Irish Regimental Colours will also be amongst those on parade at the national service.
Commanding Officer 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Graham Shannon says it’s a period of great pride and reflection. “Waterloo 200 is a special event for the Regimental family. It was a battle of strategic significance and we are proud to carry the heritage of the 27th Inniskillings forward today.
The extreme bravery and determination shown by the Inniskilings at Waterloo is a reflection of the spirit of Irish soldiers who have fought in the British Army for hundreds of years.”
The Royal Irish Regiment is the only Irish Regiment of the line remaining.
Lt. Col. Shannon added: “Napoleon himself commented about the “stubborn bravery of the Regiment with castles in their caps” (the Inniskilling cap badge) we are that Regiment today and are extremely proud of the Irish heritage that we stand for.”
Lieutenant Marcus Riley from Lisburn will be Queens Colour Bearer for the National Remembrance Service. He said: “It is a genuine honour to be appointed Ensign to the Queen’s Colour of The 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment at the Waterloo Day Parade. I am immensely proud to represent the Regiment here on parade and to commemorate our part in one of the most important battles in history.”
Stuart Potter from Newtownards is the Regimental Sergeant Major.
He said: “The Inniskilling saved Wellington’s line. The impact on the Regiment was huge. Of the 15 Officers present 14 were killed. Of the 670 other ranks 498 were either killed or injured.
“At the height of the battle the Inniskillings were offered Officers from a neighbouring Regiment. As a mark of the trust that the Regiment put into its Non-Commissioned Officers Major Hare, the Commanding Officer said ‘the sergeants like to command the companies, and I am loathed to deprive them of such an honour’.
“This is a mentality that the present Regiment continues today and is evident throughout our culture and outlook. On 18 Jun 15 members of The Royal Irish Regiment will attend a service in London to mark the battle and remember the brave Irish soldiers who have gone before us. On 20 Jun 15, the current Irish soldiers will remember the battle with a ceremonial parade. As the parade draws to an end the Commanding Officer will order the battalion to “form square” and the officers will leave the parade to mark the moment at Waterloo when the sergeants took command of the battalion. 200 years on, sergeants still like to command the companies.”