The Military General Service Medal, with 4 clasps, Roleia, Talavera, Busaco and Albuhera, awarded to Robert Allen of the 29th Foot was sold in our June 18th 2008 auction, where it realised £1,437.
The Sutherland Fencibles were raised for the third time in 1793 by Colonel William Wemyss and Robert Allen enlisted on the 19th April 1793. The unit served in the 1798 Irish Rebellion and was disbanded at Fort George in April 1799. On disbanding the new 93rd Regiment was recruited from the recently disbanded Sutherland Fencibles.
Robert Allen did not however join the 93rd with many of his comrades but transferred to the 29th Foot on the 29th March 1799. The 29th Foot were also in Ireland in 1798 for the rebellion and it is possible that Private Allen liked what he saw of them. In 1799 just after joining the 29th Foot they sailed for Holland and the Helder-Bergen campaign under the Duke of York where he was wounded for the first time in the left leg.
On returning from Holland the 29th Foot were stationed in Guernsey, Plymouth and Exeter before proceeding to Halifax, Nova Scotia from 1802-1807. They arrived in the Peninsula in August 1808 and took an active part in the first action of the campaign at the Battle of Rolica on 17th August 1808. The 29th Foot suffered 190 killed and wounded, the highest casualties of any British Regiment in this action. Private Allen was wounded for the second time at this battle in the left breast.
Private Allen was present at the Battle of Talavera on 27-28th July 1809 where the Allies suffered over 6,000 casualties with the 29th distinguishing itself. They succeeded in driving the French from a vital hill by charging with fixed bayonets. They captured 2 French colours but the eagles had been unscrewed prior to capture denying them the honour of capturing the first eagle of the war. The Regiment suffered 189 casualties. After the battle Wellington wrote to the Secretary of State "My Lord I wish very much that some measure could be adopted to get some recruits for the 29th Regiment it is the best Regiment in this Army.”
He was present again at Busaco on 27th September 1810 where the Allies repulsed the French attack before withdrawing to their prepared positions behind the Torres Vedras.
The Battle of Albuhera on 16th May 1811 has been described as one of the fiercest ever fought with withering volley fire being faced at very short ranges. The Allied losses were again over 6,000 with the French suffering over 8,000. James Allen was wounded for the third time in the side. During the battle the Regiment suffered heavy casualties and the colour party were all killed, but a young officer had ripped the colours from the poles and hid them in his tunic before he died and when their position was retaken by the British the colours were recovered never having fallen into the hands of the French.
On 13th October 1811 the Regiment were ordered to return to England to recover after its 3 years of campaigning. Private Robert Allen was discharged on 24th June 1817 having completed 24 years and 67 days service.
Only 5 MGSMs with this clasp combination have been issued, all to the 29th Foot.