Forgotten soldier who fought at Waterloo to be remembered 200 years on at North Herts ceremony

Trooper George Arnold's headstone, which is being replaced after becoming old and worn.

Trooper George Arnold's headstone, which is being replaced after becoming old and worn. - Credit: Archant

A forgotten soldier who fought at Waterloo will be honoured at a special ceremony next week, 200 years after the famous battle.

The letter about Trooper George Arnold which appeared in The Times in 1868.

The letter about Trooper George Arnold which appeared in The Times in 1868. - Credit: Archant

Trooper George Arnold was among the British men commanded by the Duke of Wellington who defeated Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grand Armee on June 18, 1815.

Although the battle is one of the most famous in British military history, much less is known about the soldiers who fought alongside counterparts from the Royal Prussian Army on the rolling fields outside the small Belgian village.

That was something Stevenage-based military tour company Battle Honours wanted to change after coming across Trooper Arnold’s story earlier this year.

Although born in Shillington, the soldier is known to have lived in Pirton and served in the 16th Light Dragoons calvary regiment. He joined the ranks in 1800 and fought throughout the entire Peninsula War of 1807-1814.


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His links to the North Herts village prompted a remarkable appeal from the Pirton vicar of the time to The Times.

Writing in November 1868, the Rev R. Lindsay Loughborough asked for donations to make Trooper Arnold’s life a little more comfortable ahead of his 90th birthday in the following January.

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Despite an incredible response, Trooper Arnold died in February 1869 so most of the resulting fund was spent on a headstone at St Mary’s Church in Pirton.

After another Times appeal in March this year, history is set to repeat itself in the form of a new headstone to replace the barely readable churchyard memorial, which will put right an error in the original stone which said Trooper Arnold’s regiment was the 17th Lancers.

Battle Honours, based at Stevenage’s Business and Technology Centre, has organised a commemoration event at the church to unveil the new headstone next Thursday, June 18, led by the Rev James Robertson from St Mary’s.

Herts historian Dan Hill, who has backed the appeal, said: “The Battle of Waterloo is universally known, even to those who have no particular interest in military history.

“Most people could tell you that the Duke of Wellington commanded British forces that day and that he was opposed by Napoleon Bonaparte.

“Beyond that, much less is popularly known, particularly the stories behind the thousands of men who followed the colours on both sides.

“Trooper Arnold was one of those long forgotten warriors who took to the field that day and his incredible story has only this year been rediscovered.

“We are delighted to be able to mark the bicentenary by rededicating his headstone 200 years on.”

For more information about Trooper Arnold visit www.battle-honours.eu/george-arnold.

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