Lieutenant John Vandeleur of Worcester

THE JUNIOR CAVALRY OFFICER WHO BECAME A HERO

By

John Vandeleur of Worcester, who fought at Waterloo with the 12th Light Dragoons, began the day of 18 June as a spectator to the battle of Waterloo. He ended it as a hero, after seeking out and rescuing his commanding officer, left for dead on the field.

John Vandeleur of Worcester was in many ways typical of the sort of young man filling the junior commissioned ranks of Wellington’s army. The Vandeleur family was an Irish one, and John’s father was one of three brothers, all of whom had served as army officers.

Of the three, one had fallen victim to illness and the other had been killed in action in India, whilst John’s father – also John – had risen to command a cavalry regiment before being obliged to leave the service due to the poor state of his health.

With his wife and growing family, he had retired to Barbourne, on the outskirts of Worcester. The family finances appear to have been less than robust, for although there was money enough to keep up a house and to set five sons on their way in life, there was none to spare to allow John and the two younger brothers who followed him into the Army to purchase their way through the ranks.

KEYWORDS: Napoleonic Wars, Waterloo, Napoleon, Wellington, Worcestershire

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