William Havelock KH


William was born on 23 Jan 1793 at Ingress Park, Kent, the son of William and Jane Havelock. His younger brother was Henry Havelock who was more famous, being the general who fought in the Indian Mutiny and died at Lucknow. William was also the father of Sir Arthur Elibank Havelock, colonial governor. As a 15 year-old ensign in the 43rd LI he carried the Colour at the passage of the Coa. He became CO of the 14th on the death of John Townsend in April 1845. He was very brave in battle and fell mortally wounded leading the charge at Ramnaggur on 22 Nov 1848 during the Second Sikh War. He left a large family.

His military service began with the Peninsula War in which he served from 1810 to 1814. He was at Busaco, Sabugal, Salamanca, Vittoria, the passage of the Bidassoa, Nivelle, Bayonne, Orthes and Toulouse. He was wounded at Quatre Bras, and at Waterloo he was ADC to General Baron Alten. In that year he was awarded the Cross of the Hanoverian Order, later created Knight of that Order. He served in Corfu with the 32nd, and went on to Bombay with the 4th LD. He was ADC to Sir Charles Colville there. In Madras he was Military Secretary to Lord Elphinstone.

William Napier mentions Havelock in his History of the Peninsula War, when he was serving with the 43rd Regiment at Vera in the Pyrenees in Oct 1813:

'When on a critical occasion our allies, the Spaniards, were wavering under the heavy fire of two French regiments posted behind a strong line of abattis*, Lt William Havelock, attached to Baron Alten's staff, was sent to ascertain how general Giron, who commanded the Andalusians, was progressing. He came up with them near the Puerto, between Vera and Sarre, and seeing the hesitation (Napier says), "His fiery temper could not brook the check, Taking off his hat he called upon the Spaniards to follow him, and putting spurs to his horse, at one bound cleared the abattis and went headlong amongst the enemy. Then the soldiers, shouting for "El Chico blanco" - "the fair boy". So they called him, for he was very young and had light hair, with one shock broke through the French, and this at the very moment when their centre was flying under the fire of Kempt's skirmishers from the Puerto de Vare."

[*abattis are felled trees with the branches left on]

The print of William Havelock is of him as a Lieutenant-Colonel serving as military secretary to Lord Elphinstone in Madras. He is wearing Indian Undress Staff uniform of blue frockcoat with black braid and lace. His cap is blue with gold lace and netted button on top. The print is based on a pencil sketch copied from a watercolour painted by Prince Soltikoff in 1842.

1793 Born in Kent, Educated at Charterhouse
1810 Ensign in 43rd Light Infantry, 12 July
1812 Lieutenant, 12 May
1815 Waterloo and awarded Cross of Hanoverian Order
1818 Captain in 32nd Regiment, 19 Feb
1821 4th Light Dragoons, 19 July
1824 Married Caroline Chaplin
1830 Major, 31 Dec
1841 Lieutenant-Colonel in 14th LD, 30 April
1845 Commanding Officer of 14th LD, 23 April
1848 Died at Ramnaggur on 22nd November


Regimental Details | Commanding Officers




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by Stephen Luscombe