Donald Graves

Fix Bayonets! by Donald Graves

A Royal Welch Fusilier at War, 1796-1815

The Biography of Thomas Pearson

jonathon riley, fix bayonetsForeward By Major-General JP Riley, DSO

As the last Colonel of the Royal Welch Fusiliers and the current Chairman of the Regimental Trustees, I am honoured to write the foreword to this biography of such an eminent Royal Welchman. I am also delighted to do so from a personal point of view, since there is much in this book which is of interest to the general reader and student of history as well as to the regimental enthusiast. Thomas Pearson's career spanned the whole of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, that titanic, world-wide struggle from which the British Empire emerged victorious. Pearson was present at some of the major continental actions of the war and was wounded several times. He fought at Albuhera, one of the bloodiest days in the history of the British army, but it is his contribution to the war in Canada for which he will best be remembered. That war is still studied on this side of the Atlantic since it was and is overshadowed by events in Spain and central Europe. At the time, it was fought on a shoestring but with considerable skill and daring. The courage of those involved, fighting a determined and capable enemy in far larger numbers, ensured that Canada survives to this day as an independent country.

Pearson the soldier is relatively easy to define, therefore. Pearson the man, however, is far more difficult, since he left no diaries or memoirs and precious little correspondence. Donald Graves has had to do some painstaking research to show us Pearson's character. Pearson seems to me to be an example of all that has typified the Royal Welch Fusiliers throughout its history: courage, honesty, fortitude, good humour in adversity, an absolute refusal to be beaten, and an insistence of the highest standards of professional conduct He may not have won many popularity contests, but this would not have worried him for a second. What mattered to him was that he had been true to his country, his regiment and his family.

I commend this excellent, well researched and very readable book, and on behalf of all Royal Welchmen I thank Donald Graves for his labours.

Major-General J.P. RILEY, DSO
Caernarfon, Wales


Copyright © 2006

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