Date added: 15 Jun 2015
by Chloe Cutts, Simone Fisher, Phoebe Sutton, Nicole Ward, Robbie White and Chantelle Wilson.
Who was John Hird?
John Hird was born in 1790 in Chapeltown. He was 22 years old when he joined the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards on the 9th of January 1813.
He was with the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards "Employed with the Baggage" on the field of Waterloo. He was wounded 5 times on the 18th of June, and could not use his left hand. Due to his disability he was discharged as unfit for further service on the 4th of March 1816. He worked as a grinder after he left the army.
He is buried in a graveyard in Chapeltown.
Who were the Life Guards?
The 2nd Regiment of Life Guards were a cavalry regiment in the British Army, part of the Household Cavalry. It was formed in 1788 by the union of the 2nd Troop of Horse Guards and 2nd Troop of Horse Grenadier Guards. The Household Cavalry were the very elite of the British cavalry and would normally serve as the King’s bodyguard.
The 2nd Regiment had the nickname “Cheese Mongers”. This came from when they began to recruit merchants into the unit from 1788.
John Hird became one of the 2nd Regiment in 1813 when a lot of young men were joining. He was “employed with the baggage” which were the supplies of food, machinery and clothing for Wellington’s army. He had to guard it.
What did John Hird do at the Battle of Waterloo?
Accounts of the battle say that the Household Cavalry were ordered to support the British counter-attack on Ney’s infantry columns from the top of the hill.
It is possible that it was during the charge that John Hird was wounded five times and his hand got injured.
Once cavalry have charged it is very difficult to call them back and many soldiers in John’s regiment were attacked by French cavalry because they had gone out too far.
What happened to injured soldiers after the battle?
After the battle, there were many wounded soldiers. We know that John Hird’s hand was wounded because it says this in his discharge papers.
If he had been able to walk, he would have found an ambulance but if he wasn’t able to walk, he would had to wait on the battlefield for hours for someone to come and pick him up.
If he had needed a surgeon they would have had to amputate his hand quickly so it wouldn’t get infected. There were no painkillers or antiseptics so this would have been very painful and dangerous. They sometimes made soldiers drink some alcohol to numb the pain. He would have had to keep still and then a surgeon would cut off his hand with a saw.