Than a true brave

A 2nd Life Guards trooper, Thomas Playford, knew Shaw and was present at Waterloo. He recorded: “I was acquainted with a singular character among the guards of the royal person. His name was Shaw and he was 6ft high and possessed a powerful athletic frame. His features were large and coarse; his countenance indicated a measure of good nature and determined purpose.

“His broad chest, muscular arms and large bony hands denoted a powerful antagonist to be encountered in combat. He was well versed in the use of the broadsword and could use the shining blade with a speed of a flash of light, but he also knew the science of pugilism. Few could stand before him. A blow from his sword would have been dangerous and disabling if not fatal and a stroke from his clenched fist dreadful to a weak man. “The morning was clear, the rain abated and Shaw, others and I were sent in search of food. Finding an abandoned wagon loaded with bread, [we] each took a sack of loaves, and went to a farmhouse for cheese or bacon. At that moment a cannon gave indication of approaching battle. ‘The work is beginning’, said Shaw, ‘Come lads, let us hasten to our regiment; we have each our share of duty to perform today’. “Our brigade formed under the brow of a hill near the centre, dismounted. The field was in front of us, but it was hid from our view by the rising ground. We heard a thunder of cannon, the fire of musketry and the shouts of combatants. We saw many wounded passing towards the rear. Shot and shell that passed over our heads struck behind us in great numbers.

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