The Battle of Minden

British Regiments that took part in the Battle of Minden, 1759

The Seven Years War took place from 1756 to 1763. England and Prussia were allied against France and Austria. On the 1st August 1759 the allied Forces of some 41,000 men under the command of Prince Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, assembled in the vicinity of Minden. The British contingent of 10,000 was under the command of Lieutenant General Lord George Sackville. The French had a Force of 51 000 men and were under command of Marshal Contades.
Prince Ferdinand had previously divided his army in an attempt to encourage the French to attack, but by the early hours of 1st August 1759 he had concentrated his troops in a position North West of the town of Minden extending from Minderheide to Petershagen. The fields and hedgerows were full of wild red and yellow roses and the British soldiers picked these and placed them on their hats.
Due to a misunderstanding in the transmission of orders. the British infantry brigades, under their Commanders Waldegrave and Kingsley, began to march towards the French. To the surprise of everyone, including Prince Ferdinand and his staff and the French Commanders, the British Infantry marched forwards into a hail of fire and attacked the French cavalry – the first recorded incident of this kind in military history. Despite very heavy losses, the Infantry, supported by two batteries of Artillery, continued their attack and forced the French to retreat. Lord George Sackville was ordered to attack with the British cavalry to rout the French but failed to do so. After the decisive attack by the British infantry. the Allied Force advanced and drove the French off the battlefield. Of the 4,434 men who went into battle with 6 British infantry regiments. 78 officers and 1,252 soldiers were killed or wounded. All the regiments still celebrate the 1st August and have the word “Minden” embroidered on their Colours and Battle Honour.
At Todtenhausen, on the road between Minden and Petershagen opposite the Gastsrätte Lohrmann. stands a Memorial to those who fell in the Battle, On 1st August it is customary for wreaths to be laid there at a small ceremony arranged by Minden Garrison which is attended by the German Kreis and Stadt authorities and representatives of the British regiments that fought in the Battle, together with representatives of the German Armed Forces.
In Minden Museum there is a special room devoted to the Battle with many interesting exhibits collected from the battlefield. The churches of St Mary and St Martini hold records of the burials and marriages of British soldiers from the time of the battle. Kingsley Barracks was named after Major General Kingsley who commanded one of the British infantry brigades.