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British Cemetery Elvas

British Cemetery in Elvas

The Middlesex Regiment

The Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge's Own), known as The Die-Hards, was formed from two regiments, the 57th of foot, founded in 1755 and the 77th of foot founded in 1787.  It was one of the principal London based regiments. In 1881 these two regiments were renamed The Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment) under the changes of the Cardwell system, whereby a regiment had one battalion abroad on foreign service and one battalion at home, providing fresh soldiers. This they remained except for a change in the order of the name in 1920 to The Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge's Own) until being absorbed into The Queen's Regiment in 1966.  The Queen’s Regiment was merged in 1992 into the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment. 

The Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge's Own) can be proud of a total of 116 battle honours, 11 officers and soldiers who have won the Victoria Cross and a winner of a George Cross, uniquely awarded to Colonel Newnham MC as a prisoner of war of the Japanese. 

Both the 57th and 77th fought in the Peninsular War, gaining eight honours between them. The regiments bore the name of the county then, 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment and 77th (East Middlesex) Regiment. 

Lieutenant Colonel Inglis of the 57th was severely wounded at the Battle of Albuera where the regiment formed part of Maj.Gen. Hoghton’s Brigade. His horse was shot from under him and he was severely wounded. He lay on the ground, refusing to be moved to the rear, and called to his soldiers “Die Hard, 57th.” The  regiment thus acquired the nickname of “The Die-Hards”. 

Capt. George Kirby of the 57th was wounded at Albuera on 16 May and died of his wounds on 10 June 1811. He may be buried in the British Cemetery, Elvas. His obituary in The Gentleman’s Magazine July 1811, p. 90 read: ‘Lately…At Elvas, from the wound he received on the 10th of May [sic], at the battle of Albuera, Captain Kirby 57th regiment, second son of the late Rev. John K. of Mayfield. Sussex.’ 

The Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge's Own) inherited the designation "Duke of Cambridge's Own" from the 77th Foot, to which regiment it was awarded in 1876. The regiment was also permitted to bear the coronet and cypher of Prince George, Duke of Cambridge on its colours and badges. The regiment was granted the plumes and motto of the Prince of Wales in 1810 for twenty years' service in India. The Duke was colonel-in-chief of the regiment from 1898 to his death in 1904.

Middlesex Regiment Collection