General Sir Colin Halkett (1774-1856)

Fred Halkett
General Sir Colin Halkett (1774-1856)

He was born on 9 September 1774 in Venlo (Pas-Bas), Belgium and died at Chelsea Hospital, London, England on 24 September 1856 at age 82.

Sir Colin began his military career serving as a cadet under his father, Frederick Godard Halkett, who at the time was a Major in the Regiment of Gordon in the Scottish Brigade. His father rose to the rank of Major General.

In England, with the Scottish Brigade, Sir Colin formed a battalion of light infantry of German soldiers. This ultimately resulted in the formation of the 1st and 2nd Light Battalions of the King’s German Legion (KGL). Sir Colin was given command of the 2nd Light Battalion of the KGL.

He served in Northern Germany in 1803-1806, where his brother Hugh a Senior Captain and later Major served under him, and then in Ireland in 1806. He was shipwrecked with part of his battalion on the Rundle Stone off Land’s End in May 1807. Later that year he served in the Isle of Rugen and in the Copenhagen Expedition. In 1808 he went to Sweden.

After Sweden Sir Colin went to Portugal and Spain where he served with distinction under Wellington in the Peninsular Campaign. There he participated in Sir John Moore’s retreat through Spain when the KGL Light Battalions were among the troops retired to Virgo. These battalions repeatedly distinguished themselves in the Walcheren Expedition. Sir Colin commanded the brigade at the Battle of Albuera. Later, after taking command of the Light Brigade and with the 7th Division, he took active part in the operations against Burgos and in the Burgos retreat, where he won the special approbation of Lord Wellington. This command continued at Venta de l’Ozo, where the 2nd Brigade was commanded by his brother Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Halkett, and at the bridge of Samancus. Sir Colin commanded the German Light Brigade during the succeeding campaign, including the Battle at Vitoria, the occupation of Tolosa, the passage of the Bidassoa, and the battle on the Nive and at Toulose.

He became a Major General on 4 June 1814, just before Waterloo.

In the Waterloo campaign he commanded the 5th Infantry Brigade that was composed of the 2nd Battalions of the 30th, 33rd, 69th, and 73rd Regiments, of the 3rd Division. The troops under his command were very hotly engaged at Quatre Bras and then at Waterloo. There were many casualties. Sir Colin received four severe wounds at Waterloo. The Duke of Wellington referred to him in a dispatch as “a very gallant and deserving officer”.

After Waterloo, Sir Colin remained in the British Service. He was for some years (1821-1830) substantive Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Jersey and had a street named after him
there. From July 1831 to 1832 he was Commander-in-Chief at Bombay, India. Then, he was appointed Colonel-in-Succession of the 71st Highland Light Infantry and the 31st and 45th Regiments.

He was made substantive Lieutenant General in 1830 and General in 1841. Sir Colin received many honors. While in the British service he was knighted - the English Order of Bath. Among his other honors were the GCB and GCH, a knight of numerous other orders, and Honorary General in the Hanoverian Service.

Sir Colin’s last assignment was in 1843 as Lieutenant Governor of Chelsea Hospital in London, England and upon the death of Sir George Anson, he became its Governor.

Sir Colin died on 25 September 1856 and is buried in an impressive grave located in the center of Chelsea Hospital’s graveyard.

Sir Colin was married to Letitia CRICKET. She was the widow of Captain Tyler, Royal Artillery. Letitia died on 12 February 1862 in London, England.

There were 4 children - 3 daughters and 1 son.

NOTE: See Photo section for pictures of this great man.
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