Melbourne Parish Church

In the heart of the Community

Waterloo & Henry Gooch

Ensign Henry Edward Gooch lived in Melbourne Hall and is buried in Melbourne Cemetery on the north side of the chapel.  The east window in Melbourne Parish Church is dedicated to his memory.

The Battle of Waterloo 18th June 2015 (Hougoumont)

The battle commenced at around 11.30 in the morning with a tremendous cannonade and a French assault on Hougoumont.  This farm was a strategically vital position in advance of the Allied line.  Although the defence of Hougoumont had a significant bearing on the outcome of the battle overall, it truly was a battle within a battle.

Hougoumont was successfully defended for the entire duration of the battle, mainly by the British Guards under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James Macdonnell (Coldstream Guards).  Wellington committed a total of only 3,500 men to the defence of Hougoumont, the French some 14,000 to the attack.  The casualties were in similar proportions, namely 1,500 Allied dead and wounded, 5,000 French.

At around 12.30, one of the most famous incidents of the entire Battle of Waterloo took place.  This was the closing of the North Gate at Hougoumont.  About 30-40 French soldiers had battered down the gate and burst into the courtyard.  Lieutenant Colonels Macdonnell and Wyndham, Ensigns Gooch and Hervey and six other Guardsmen managed to push the gates shut in the faces of the onrushing French.  All those who had burst in were slaughtered to a man, except for one drummer boy whose life was spared.  After the battle Wellington said that the outcome of the entire battle hinged on this one single dramatic incident.

From ‘The Waterloo Roll Call’

This gallant defence of Hougoumont is a matter of history.  More than once was the place nearly taken by the French.  "The French, however," says Siborne, in his graphic account of the battle of Waterloo, "succeeded in forcing the gate; but the defenders betook themselves to the nearest cover, whence they poured a fire upon the intruders, and then rushing forward a struggle ensued which was distinguished by the most intrepid courage on both sides.  At length Lt Col Macdonell, Capt Wyndham, Ensigns Gooch and Hervey, and Sgt Graham, of the Coldstream Guards, by dint of great personal strength and exertions, combined with extraordinary bravery and perseverance, succeeded in closing the gate against their intruders."  The struggle for the possession of Hougoumont went on the whole day until the French retreat set in late in the evening.

Professor Richard Holmes, the television historian, in one of his ‘War Walks’ programmes on the battle said that, to him, this particular incident was the most decisive and politically significant in all military history.  The whole face of European history could have been changed but for this single action.

COLDSTREAM REGIMENT OF FOOT GUARDS (2nd Battalion)

Gooch – (Under Ensigns)

Henry Gooch 23 July, 1812 

Promoted Lieutenant and Captain 28th October1819.  Quit the service as Lieutenant Colonel, 11th June 1841.

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