The King's German Legion
Patrick Harris -
The King's German Legion was founded as a result of French occupation of Hanover in 1803. Due to this occupation, the Hanoverian Army had been disbanded. Many of its officers and men fled to England; where they were organised into a mixed corps of artillery, infantry and cavalry to be called the King's German Legion. The unit served continuously from 1803-1816, when it was disbanded. Many of the units were absorbed into the Hanoverian Army, later becoming part of the Imperial German Army. The Legion served in many campaigns in the Napoleonic Wars, most notably the Peninsular War and the Waterloo Campaign. The Legion was comprised of approximately 14000 officers and men.
During the Waterloo Campaign, the KGL (Light Battalion) defended the house of La Haye Sainte against many fierce French attacks, including several led my Marshall Michel Ney. The garrison defended the house valiantly through most of the day, though repeated attempts to relieve and restock the garrison met with disaster at the hands of French Cuirassiers, most notably the Fifth Line Battalion of the Legion. After six hours of near constant assault by an overwhelming number of French troops, the garrison ran out of ammunition. They continued to fight with bayonets and swords but soon realised that further resistance was futile. The shattered remnants of the garrison retreated back to allied lines, leaving their dead in the now burning farmhouse. Only 42 out of 450 men survived. The French took possession of the farmhouse, opening up the path for the Imperial Guard to advance on the Allied line, and we all know how that turned out....
Today a monument stands outside of La Haye Sainte honouring the King's German Legion for their extreme sacrifice in the face of overwhelming odds. It is my opinion that had the Victoria Cross existed at that time, every man would have received one.