Today, 23 September, is Assaye Day, when the Regiment remembers one of its most famous battle honours: the Battle of Assaye in 1803 – which, the Duke of Wellington (as he was later known) considered was the finest thing he ever did in his fighting career.
The small British army of c9,500 men managed to defeat the much larger army of the Maratha Empire, numbering some 70,000 – an amazing feat, although, casualties were extremely high. The victory was in no small part due to the men of The 74th Highlanders – dubbed by Wellington: “My fighting regiment”! In this action, perhaps the keenest ever fought in India, every officer present with the Regiment was either killed or wounded, except for the Quartermaster, James Grant, who would usually have been to the rear. However, seeing so many of his friends fall, he rallied the troops and fought with them to the end of the bloody battle, when only about 80 men could answer their names at the roll call.
The East India Company presented the Assaye Colour to the 74th, among others, and The Royal Highland Fusiliers as the successor regiment continued to carry this third Colour, the only regiment in the British Army to carry a third Colour. This tradition is continued by our successor Battalion: The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Colours are usually carried by young officers; however, in memory of Quartermaster Grant’s heroism, the Assaye Colour is always carried by a Quartermaster.
Our mascot, Bugle the Assaye Elephant, commemorates the elephant which is featured on the Colour, and wishes you a very happy Assaye Day!