Saturday, 13th May, 2023
The weekend started with an excellent talk on the Saturday evening by the Vice-Chair of the Friends, Major General Rui Moura, on ‘The Paintings of Major Thomas St. Clair’, in the Hotel Dom Luís, followed by a dinner.
Gen. Rui Moura's talk at the Hotel Dom Luís
Thomas St. Clair’s painting, 2nd Siege of Badajoz
Sunday, 14th May
The following day, nearly 100 from a variety of nations attended the Annual Ceremony in Remembrance for those who fell at Albuera and Badajoz at the British Cemetery, Elvas, after a short Eucharist in the Chapel.The customary wreaths were laid at the foot of the memorial plaques and many local dignitaries participated in the ceremony and gave speeches, including representatives from the municipalities of Elvas, Vila Viçosa (for the first time), Badajoz and La Albuera, as well as members of the British, Portuguese, and Spanish military, the three Allies of the time, representatives of the Order of Malta, the British Legion, and the Liga de Combatentes. The Military Attaché from the British Embassy and a representative from the Irish Embassy also took part.
Col. Kian Murphy at the Badajoz wall
Special thanks are due to the Chair of the Friends, Celia Denney and the Committee Members, who organised the day and cleaned up the Cemetery beforehand, as well as to the Rev. Fran Le Blanc, who celebrated Holy Communion before the ceremony and gave the prayers and blessing in the cemetery, and also to Stewart Streeting, who impeccably conducted the ceremony and produced the illustrated programme. Luís Santos of the Portuguese GNR once again ably played the ´Last Post’ followed by ‘Reveille’ at the end of the two minutes’ silence, accompanied by the lowering of the Royal British Legion standard, which was borne by Clive Oakes. On behalf of the ‘Friends’, the Chair of the Trustees, Marcus de la Poer Beresford presented a prize to the Elvas high school student who had the best improvement in English over the past year, and then on behalf of the Friends of the British cemetery, Elvas, the Vice-Chair, Maj. General Moura, presented a gift to Stewart Streeting in recognition and thanks for his many years dedication to both of the annual remembrance ceremonies.
Stewart Streeting receives his gift
Luís Santos, GNR and Clive Oakes, RBL
The Commandant of Badajoz , Gen. D. Pablo Gómez Lera
Gen. Rui Moura at Lt. Col. James Ward Oliver's grave
A lunch was subsequently held at the Varchotel, followed by the customary fund-raising auction of items generously donated by Members. Articles were published soon after the event in the local newspaper, ‘Linhas de Elvas’, and for the first time in the English language newspaper, the ‘Portugal News’, which is published in the Algarve and distributed throughout the country.
Mark Crathorne officiating at the Auction
Members of the Trustees and of the Committee
Monday, 15th May
On the day following the Annual Ceremony, the ex-Chair of the Friends, Maj. Nick Hallidie, organised a visit to Wellington’s Headquarters at Monte da Gramicha, near Elvas, where Wellington stayed from 30 May to 14 June 1811 during the 2nd Siege of Badajoz. Members of the Friends were kindly given permission to visit the property, including the chapel, by the current owners, Henrique Gonçalves, who is the Friend’s Treasurer, and his mother Marivi. Maj. Nick Hallidie described the cavalry skirmish which took place on 22 June, 1811 in front of Gramicha, when the 2nd KGL Hussars faced 14 squadrons of Dragoons and Polish Lancers under Latour-Maubourg, which had forded the Guadiana to their front. Wachtmeister Fielder was seriously wounded and died in Elvas. To the north, the British 11th Dragoons engaged a far superior force of French cavalry under Montbrun, with all 64 being captured. The visit was followed by wine-tasting and lunch at the emblematic Garrafeira de Fronteira, in Elvas.
Monte de Gramicha
Tuesday, 16th May
Several members of the Friends attended the habitual commemoration of the Battle of Albuera in the main square of La Albuera. Wreaths in memory of the thousands of Allied soldiers who fell at the battle of Albuera in May 1811 was laid at the PWRR Obelisk by the Mayor of La Albuera, D. Manuel Diaz Gonzalez, by the Commandant of Badajoz, General D. Pablo Gómez Lera and by Col. Mark Nooney, MC, of the PWRR. Subsequently, wreaths were laid for the Buffs, the East Surrey and the Middlesex Regiments by Lt. Jon Stone, Major William Marshall, Stewart Streeting and Andrew Stevenson. As is now a PWRR tradition, trophies and diplomas were presented by Col Nooney to the two local school students who had excelled in English during the year, and such was the fierce competition that an Accesit was awarded to a third child. After the event, a buffet lunch was organised by the Mayor of La Albuera, after which the tradition was carried out of remembering those fell on the 16th May 1811 with a Silent Toast to the Immortal Memory.
Col. Mark Nooney, MC, Celia Denney, Lt. Jon Stone (PWRR)
Award ceremony for local school students
The Buffs memorial