During the American
Revolutionary War (1775-1783) the French and Spanish saw an opportunity to
profit from the fact that the British army was forced to concentrate large
numbers of troops on the North American continent. Between June 1779 and
February 1783 they besieged the Malta Peninsula their fleets blockading the
Garrison under the British General Elliot from the sea while forts and trenches
cut the Malta Garrison off by land.
The conditions were
terrible, rations were just enough to keep the men from starving and scurvy
broke out amongst the ranks. Along with the British soldiers defending the
Peninsula were three Battalions of troops from Hannover, a further two Hannover
battalions were stationed on the Island of Minorca.
During the siege
there was constant skirmishing between the protagonists and two major actions.
In November 1781 the British carried out a surprise night raid in order to
disrupt a planned Spanish attack. They killed approximately 200 Spanish
soldiers and destroyed supplies, weapons, ammunition and positions.
In September 1782 the
French and Spanish carried out a combined operation. Over 5 000 men manned 10
Floating batteries with a total of 138 heavy guns. 86 heavy guns were in
positions on the landside along with 43 000 troops who were to attack the
fortifications. On the 13th of September the French and Spanish guns
opened fire. The Garrison artillery responded sinking three of the floating batteries;
the Spanish had to scuttle the other 7 due to heavy damage. Approximately 700
men on the ships were killed.
The Siege was lifted
in February 1783, the Garrison had lost 1 231 men and had fired 8 000 barrels
In October 1783 King
George the 3rd gave the 3 Hanoverian battalions who had fought at
Gibraltar the honorary title of “Gibraltar Battalions”. They were each
presented with colors which showed the Rock of Gibraltar and the motto “Mitt
Eliott Ruhm und Sieg”.
The Bearskins worn by
the soldiers would have a scroll with the word “Gibraltar” on it and their
tunics would be adorned with a blue armband with the motto “Gibraltar”.
Renewal of the Cuff-Title
On the 24th
of January 1901 Kaiser Wilhelm renewed the Tradition for the Hanoverian units
now integrated into the Prussian Army.
“I would like to
renew, in my army, the distinction awarded by Kürfürst George the 3rd
to the men of the three Hanoverian Battalions involved in the defense of
Gibraltar. The Füsilier-Regiment General-Feldmarschall Prinz
Albrecht von Preußen (Hannoversches) Nr. 73, Infanterie-Regiment von
Voigts-Rhetz (3. Hannoversches)
Nr. 79 and the Hannoverschen Jäger-Bataillon Nr.10 are hereby authorized to
wear the Light Blue „Gibraltar“ cuff title on the right sleeve.”
According to the article by Hans Zopf in the Zeitschrift
für Heereskunde, „Gibraltar und das Traditions gibraltarband alt-hannoverscher
Truppenteile“ it would be embroidered in yellow thread for other ranks and gold
bullion for officers.
The Cuff title was worn up until the end of the war in
1918 but numerous photos of the units for which it was authorized show that supplies
lagged and many replacement personnel in the ranks did not receive one.
Above: Three versions of the Cuff-Title
The Cuff-Titles were hand sewn by a number of makers resulting in variations depending on the Company, Tailor or contracted individual who sewed the item.
From the top:
-- One of the high quality early, possibly Prewar cuff-titles
-- The bullion cuff title belonging to as yet
unidentified Oberleutnant of the I. Batl. of the Infanterie-Regiment von
Voigts-Rhetz (3. Hannoversches) Nr. 79. It is a high quality bullion that has faded
to a base color of silver over the last 100 years.
-- The cuff tittle belonging to
an Oberleutnant der Reserve in the Füsilier-Regiment General-Feldmarschall
Prinz Albrecht von Preußen (Hannoversches) Nr. 73. The officer in question joined the Regiment in late
1917 and it seems that the Cuff Title is a late war production made with
materials of a lesser quality than the Prewar titles.
Due to the quality of the Early Cuff-Titles it is difficult to differentiate between Bullion and Early titles. This Photograph appears to show an officer with a bullion title.
I will be expanding this page to include more photos of soldiers wearing the cuff title as well as more examples of the title, if you have any please contact me on GMIC