Orders, Decorations and Medals (19 & 20 March 2008)

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Date of Auction: 19th & 20th March 2008

Sold for £1,000

Estimate: £1,100 - £1,300

Military General Service 1793-1814, 4 clasps, Busaco, Albuhera, Vittoria, Pyrenees (Samuel Hough, 34th Foot) edge bruising and polished, otherwise good fine £1100-1300


Samuel Hough, a bricklayer from Newton, Cheshire, enlisted in the 34th Foot in April 1809.

Posted to the 2nd Battalion, which arrived in Portugal in the following year, he was present at Busaco that September, although his unit took little part in the action, but at Albuhera in May 1811, as part of Abercrombie’s Brigade, the Battalion was heavily engaged and lost three officers and 30 men killed, and four officers and 91 men wounded. It was next present in the action fought at Arroyo dos Molinos that October, where a large number of French prisoners were taken, including a band and drums, as a result of which the 34th became the only regiment in the British Army to be granted the battle honour “Arroyo dos Molinos”.

Next engaged at Vittoria in June 1813, the Battalion sustained 76 casualties, but far worse was to follow in the passes of the Pyrenees on 25 July, when, taken by surprise and overwhelmed by a superior French force, it suffered 300 casualties, among them Hough, who received ‘a gunshot wound of the right leg near Maya Pass in action with the enemy’ (WO 97/518 refers). Possibly he received his wound as a member of the 34th’s picquet stationed atop Aretesque Hill, part of a 400-strong force that was crushed by the French inside an hour with terrible loss, but more likely he was hit in the 34th’s equally gallant assault made on the same hill later that day:

‘It was death to go on against such a host, but it was the order, and we went on to destruction, marching up a narrow path, with men pumped out and breathless. We had no chance. The Colonel, always a good mark, being mounted and foremost, was first knocked over, very badly wounded. We persevered, pushed on, made a footing, and kept our ground’ (Sir Charles Oman, Wellington’s Army, refers).

The serious nature of Hough’s wound is shown by the fact that he was in the general hospital, or aboard ship, from this date until his final discharge in November 1814, when he was awarded a pension of 9d. a day.

At the time of the 1851 census, he was living with his wife Catherine at 5 Sutton Lane, Newton, and his occupation was given as ‘Bricksetter/Pensioner’. He died at the same address in September 1859, aged 79 years.