Date added: 24 May 2015
Dedicated to my 4th great grandfather
From Patricia Mullineaux (nee Garbett)
1. Position of Troops before the Battle
2. Closing of the gates at Hougoumont
3. An old postcard I have from the early 1900s of Hougoumont Farm
4. John Mason's Discharge Paper
I have been researching my family tree, and in 2013 I found out that my 4th great grandfather was at the Battle of Waterloo, I thought, Wow, this is amazing, and since then I have read a number of books on Waterloo, especially regarding the battle for the Hougoumont farm where my ancestor fought.
My 4th great grandfather was called John Mason born in 1795 in the Staffordshire village of Bradley. He was an agricultural labourer before he enlisted into the 3rd foot guards on the 6th Dec 1813 at the age of eighteen. I know he was at Quatre-Bras before marching on to Waterloo. The soldiers had very little to eat, and it rained heavily on the evening of the 17th and throughout the night before the battle, so by the morning the soldiers were thoroughly soaked through, and hungry!
Private John Mason was one of the 3rd foot guards sent down from the ridge to defend the Hougoumont farm. I know he was sent into the orchard area initially and that the orchard was only enclosed by hedges. Wellington regarded Hougoumont as the anchor for the Battle. If the French had been able to take Hougoumont they would have been able to roll up the allied army from the right. So this is where Napoleon began the battle at 11.30am by sending thousands of his troops led by his brother Jerome Bonaparte to attack the Hougoumont farm. By 3pm the French had committed 12,500 men just in the fight for Hougoumont against just 2,600 defending it! The battle for the farm continued into the evening of Sunday June 18th, and though they were vastly outnumbered by the French, the guards stood firm.
During the long battle to keep the farm John Mason was wounded in his right side and lost his left hand, he was just twenty years old, but he survived. John's discharge papers dated Oct 1815 state that in consequence of being wounded in his right side and having lost his left hand at Waterloo 18th June 1815 is rendered unfit for further service and is hereby discharged. And to prevent any improper use being made of this discharge, by it falling into other hands, the following is a description of the said John Mason. He is about 21 years of age, is 5 feet 10 inches in height, brown hair, brown eyes, fair complexion. He has served for a period of 1 year and 312 days.
John eventually returned home to his village, and in 1818 he married Elizabeth James in the village church. They had eight children although some did not survive infancy. Their 2nd son Henry born in 1823 was my 3rd great grandfather. On census forms John Mason's occupation is stated as being agri-labourer & Chelsea pensioner. He seems to have remained in the little village of Bradley for the rest of his life, I think he had had more than enough adventure to last a lifetime! How I would have loved to have met this brave young soldier in his splendid uniform who lived 200 years ago, crazy thing to say as after all he was my ancestor, but I am so proud of my brave John Mason that I would have loved to have known him!
John died in Dec 1870 at the age of 75, his wife Elizabeth died 17 months later in May 1872. They are both buried in Bradley village churchyard.