Middlesex Day is the 16th of May, the date of the Battle of Albuerra
in which the Middlesex Regiment,
ever since, known as the “Die-hards”, distinguished themselves. The Middlesex Regiment was part of the British forces fighting under the Duke of Wellington
, entrusted to stop the advance of the French into Portugal to avoid being trapped at the village of Albuhera on the Spanish/Portuguese border. The commanding officer of the young Middlesaxon fighters reportedly yelled at the height of battle “Die hard my men , die hard”. The Middlesex men fought ferociously to keep the seemingly overwhelming French forces at bay and the regiment consequently became known as “the Diehards”.
The choice of this date was made as a result of a 1988 poll by the Friends of the County of Middlesex. Recognition of Middlesex Day was also part of the campaign waged by the Middlesex Federation and in 2011 the Middlesex flag flew outside Eland House, the London headquarters of the Department of Communities and Local Government, on Middlesex Day, May 16th.
The occasion was particularly significant, being the bicentenary of the battle. The commemoration was marked by comments from; Eric Pickles, Communities Minister, seen below left,
with stalwart Middlesex and Real Counties champion and patron and president of the Middlesex Federation, Russell Grant, who stated; “Middlesex retains its place in people’s memories and affections, despite attempts to wipe it off the map. The historic English counties are one of the oldest forms of local government in Western Europe. Their roots run deep. And no amount of administrative reshuffling can delete these longstanding and cherished local identities.
Russell Grant reflected that; “Middlesex was first founded in Saxon documentation in704 AD in a geographical description of Twickenham as being in Middlesex. Since local government counties were only created in 1889, it is a pity that over a thousand years of local heritage and national history of our counties, such as Middlesex, is lost because of a lack of a short-lived County Council. Of course, the County of Middlesex – an entirely separate and different entity – continues to exist as it has done for 1300 years but the lack of understanding of modern media and by-passing of local history in our schools has created an historical and geographical vacuum. We hope, in time, our Government will right the wrongs of previous administrations by protecting the identity and integrity of our counties that are at the very fabric of our English nationhood.”
And Middlesex MP John Randall declared “I am absolutely delighted that the Department of Communities and Local Government has been recognising our historic British counties. For those of us fortunate to be from Middlesex to see our county flag flying bravely on Middlesex Day from a Government building is a great moment. This will show that although the county is no longer an administrative county it is very much still a part of our nation. We can celebrate too the exploits of those brave men who fought 200 years ago at the Battle of Albuhera and our flag will help to keep their proud memory and our county’s history alive for future generations.”;
Middlesex Day 2011, commemorated by, Russell Grant, centre, Lord John Russell of Uxbridge right and Brandon Lewis, then Local Government Minister, left.
A decade later the day was celebrated across the county. Middlesex resident Georgia Weston, below left with mayor of Harrow, Ghazanfar Ali in his full mayoral regalia,
arranged the raising of the county flag on the county day, by Harrow Council, at its civic centre.
She is seen here on the podium
where she gave a talk on the history of the county flag.
The day was also celebrated by the Last Stop bar in Brentford, both outside
and especially inside!
The flag flew over Spelethorne Council HQ
and is held here
by Hounslow Councillor Steve Curran left and Hounslow Mayor Bishnu Gurung and seen here
with members of Middlesex Hockey Association and is presented here
by Russell Grant.
The flag also flew or was displayed, at numerous private homes and other sites.