In July 1746, Lieutenant-General Sir John Ligonier led four British battalions - all that could initially be spared following the recent defeat of the Jacobite rebellion at Culloden - to join the allied army facing the French in the Low Countries.
He was nevertheless optimistic. He had been promised command of the British-paid contingent, made up of 24,000 Hanoverian and Hessian troops, and expected to serve on an equal footing with the commanders of the Austrian and Dutch forces.
In the cruellest of betrayals, his expectations were to be confounded; an outcome which – in a most unexpected fashion – caused a fracturing of the allied army. It was a sadly disjointed force which, at Rocoux on 11 October 1746, faced its ultimate test as 80,000 allies arrayed themselves against 120,000 French in arguably the 18th century’s biggest battle.
In this illuminating talk, Dr Alastair Massie brings Ligonier’s journey to life and highlights his importance in the wider campaign to defend the Low Countries.
Alastair Massie worked at the National Army Museum for 27 years, for much of that time as Head of the Department of Archives, Photographs, Film and Sound, and latterly as the Museum’s Head of Research.
He has in the past written widely on the Crimean War. More recently, in 2018, the Army Records Society published his edition (with Jonathan Oates) of the papers of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. His current book, ‘Great Britain and the Defence of the Low Countries, 1744-48: Armies, Politics and Diplomacy’, is published by Helion and Company.