Battle Honour 'BOURBON'.

Sunday, 8 July, 1810
Bourbon Battle Honour William Hall
Corporal William Hall raising the 86th Regiment's Kings Colour.

BHBOURBONThe Battle Honour BOURBON is emblazoned on the Regimental Colours of The Royal Irish Regiment.

On 6 March 1810, the 86th (Leinster) Regiment of Foot sailed from Goa via Madras as part of an expeditionary force of British and Indian troops to capture the French island of Bourbon (Réunion).

At 1300 hours on 7 July 1810, the landing party, mostly from the 86th, stormed ashore at Grand Chaloupe. On landing, the Light Company dashed forward, supported by the Grenadier Company and drove the enemy from the shore and the higher ground dominating the shoreline. The remainder of the 86th moved to seize the heights above the main town of Saint Denis and pressed forward to within range of the enemy batteries. Owing to the rising surf, the other two brigades were unable to land and the 86th therefore consolidated their overnight position back on the heights.

BourbonMemorialAt 0400 hours on 8 July, the 86th descended from the heights. They were then seen by the enemy and engaged with shell, grapeshot and musket fire. The Light Company responded by descending the heights at the run and attacked two columns of enemy infantry, dispersing them at bayonet point. Although the enemy tried to reform behind the parapet of their redoubt, the 86th pressed them so closely that the enemy fled once again.

(Left, the memorial raised on Réunion Island to Lieutenant John Graham Munro and '... those Brave Soldiers of His Majesty's the Eighty-Sixth Regiment who likewise fell ... .')

As the halyards of the redoubt's flagpole were shot away, Corporal William Hall, under extremely heavy fire, climbed the flagpole to which he attached the 86th Regiment's King's Colour. Even the French soldiers, who witnessed the daring feat and saw him descend unhurt, raised a loud shout. Soon afterwards, the 86th captured the redoubt and, although the French tried at 1600 hours to recapture it as the other brigades were landing, they realised that they were beaten. The 86th lost 11 killed and 57 wounded out of 420 all ranks; the remainder of the force lost five killed and 10 wounded out of 3,200.

Regimental Orders, dated 9 July 1810, included the announcement:

Corporal William Hall, who hoisted the King’s Colour on the redoubt, is appointed serjeant for his gallant conduct ... .’

BOURBON was one of the 86th's most prized Battle Honours, as the Regiment had experienced the heaviest fighting with the most casualties and had seized the redoubt, which led to the inevitable capture of the island.