August 1st marks Minden Day, which is a regimental anniversary celebrated by certain units of the British Army.
Up to its demise in 1968, the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (previously the 51st Foot) wore white roses in their caps [on August 1st ] in celebration of their victory against the French at the Battle of Minden in 1759 during the Seven Years’ War.
The celebration of the day involves the wearing of “Minden Roses” on the regimental head dress, and, in the case of the infantry regiments, the decoration of the regimental colours with garlands of roses. This recalls that the regiments wore wild roses at the battle that they had plucked from the hedgerows as they advanced to engage the enemy.
The colours of roses varies: red is used by most of the units, but white is favoured by the Light Infantry. In some cases this reflects parts of the regimental recruiting areas: the Light Infantry is associated with part of Yorkshire (represented by a white rose).
In 1975, August 1 was adopted as Yorkshire Day, partly to reflect the presence of Yorkshire soldiers at the battle.
Minden Day is commemorated in the English folk song Lowlands of Holland, which dates to the time of the Seven Years’ War. Like most English folk songs, the song has numerous variants.
One version, which is prevalent in Suffolk, home of 12th Regiment of Foot (1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment), contains the verse:
“My love across the ocean Wears a scarlet coat so fair, With a musket at his shoulder And roses in his hair”.
Pictured is a cane from our collection at the museum which has the Minden Rose displayed on the handle as part of the regimental cap badge of the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.