Date added: 3 Jun 2015
He was commissioned (without purchase) as Ensign with 32nd ‘Cornwall’ Regiment of Light Infantry on 14 April 1813 and served in the last month (April 1814) of the Peninsula War.
Promoted Lieutenant on 14 January 1819 and Captain on 13 May 1824. In June 1837 he sailed with the 32nd Regiment from Plymouth, bound for Quebec, on barque HMS Rajah in charge of 100+ recruits.
Promotion to Brevet-Major was on 28 June 1838 and to Regimental Major on 19 January 1839. Following service in Ireland and Canada he was, in March 1841, placed on ‘half-pension’.
Although the illegitimate son of William 1743-1819, he did inherit William’s properties in Scotland (1/2 share of Gatehouse of Fleet cotton mills, Gatehouse property & 1/3 share of Dundeuch (parish of Carsphairn), in trust, for the remainder of his life. – ref letter dated 27 Feb 1839 from his Gatehouse of Fleet ‘agents’ to Major John Bertwistle, 32nd regiment, Skipton.
In the 1851 census in Scotland he was recorded as being a visitor in the household of his cousin (and brother-in-law) John Bertwistle - Cargen House, Troqueer, Dumfries. His occupation described as Military Major (half-pay).
In Nov 1851 he became Lieutenant-Colonel and on 17 July 1857 he was appointed Colonel (unattached) –-ref Harts Army List 1858. On 6 Sept 1856 he is recorded as a witness at the marriage in Kirkcudbright of Anna Jane Niven Kissock (elder daughter of his cousin Jane Bertwistle Kissock). Records show that he also maintained close contact with his mother Margaret Dickson (who remained living in Kirkcudbright and married Peter Morrison), his half-brother William & Andrew Morrison and half-sister Elizabeth (Morrison) Rain. (Note- Elizabeth’s son was christened John Bertwistle Rain).
He was recorded in 1861 census as residing at 6, High St., Skipton, in house of his half-sister Jane Smith as ‘Col John Bertwistle’ and was subsequently commissioned Major-General in August 1865. He continued to visit Gatehouse of Fleet and retain links with the family in Skipton (ref letter dated 29th June 1862 to the daughter of a cousin in Skipton) through to his death on 6th October 1867 at the residence of his cousin John Bertwistle (Beaufort Villas, Cheltenham).
Date added: 3 Jun 2015
On 1st March 1815 Napoleon escaped from Elba and landed in France. Nineteen days later he was in Paris and resumed his title as Emperor. His army rallied to him. The soldiers who had been captured during the years of fighting had been released enabling Napoleon to reform his Grande Armée.
The European allies reassembled their armies and prepared to resume the war to overthrow the Emperor yet again. Sunday in June, 200 years ago, on a hill in Belgium, a brave Cornishman called Christopher Switzer carved a little piece of history for himself by saving his regiment's flag.
The hill was Waterloo, 12 miles south of Brussels, where the British Army faced the might of a multitude of battle-hardened French soldiers fighting for Napoleon. Switzer was a colour sergeant in the 32nd Foot (or the Cornwall Regiment) and his battalion formed part of a long line across a hill crest, blocking Napoleon's advance on Brussels.
As cannon balls from the French artillery ploughed into the red-coated ranks, causing horrific casualties, the French infantry marched up the hill towards the British line.
When it mounted the crest Ensign, John Bertwistle, the young officer carrying the Cornwalls' regimental "colour" – its personal flag – was severely wounded by a musket bullet. As he dropped the flag it was caught by Lieutenant Robert Belcher but simultaneously the French infantry closed in and an enemy officer grabbed the flagstaff. The prized colour – a rallying point and symbol of the regiment – was in grave danger of becoming a French war trophy.