• ARRSE have partnered with Armadillo Merino to bring you an ARRSE exclusive, generous discount offer on their full price range.
    To keep you warm with the best of Merino gear, visit www.armadillomerino.co.uk and use the code: NEWARRSE40 at the checkout to get 40% off!
    This superb deal has been generously offered to us by Armadillo Merino and is valid until midnight on the the 28th of February.

Forlorn Hope

What's this about then? Only found out about it today:

Forlorn hope - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A forlorn hope is a band of soldiers or other combatants chosen to take the leading part in a military operation, such as an assault on a defended position, where the risk of casualties is high. The term comes from the Dutch verloren hoop, literally "lost heap", and adapted as "lost troop".[1][2][3][4] The old Dutch word hoop (in its sense of heap in English) is not cognate with English hope: this is an example of false folk etymology.[5][6][7] However, in present-day Dutch the only remaining meaning is lost hope.
In the days of muzzle-loading muskets, it was most frequently used to refer to the first wave of soldiers attacking a breach in defences during a siege. It was likely that most members of the forlorn hope would be killed or wounded. The intention was that some would survive long enough to seize a foothold that could be reinforced, or at least that a second wave with better prospects could be sent in while the defenders were reloading or engaged in mopping up the remnants of the first wave.
A forlorn hope was typically composed of volunteers and led by a junior officer with hopes of personal advancement. If the volunteers survived, and performed courageously, they would be expected to benefit in the form of promotions, cash gifts and adding glory to their name. The commanding officer himself was almost guaranteed both a promotion and a long-term boost to his career prospects. As a result, despite the risks, there was often competition for the opportunity to lead the assault.
The French equivalent of the forlorn hope, called Les Enfants Perdus or The Lost Children, were all guaranteed promotion to officers should they survive, so that both men and officers joined the dangerous mission as an opportunity to raise themselves in the army. By extension, the term forlorn hope became used for any body of troops placed in a hazardous position; e.g. an exposed outpost, or the defenders of an outwork in advance of the main defensive position. This usage was especially common in accounts of the English Civil War, as well as in the British Army in the Peninsular War of 1808–1814.

When was it last used, any particular regiments which were used more often? Any infamous incidents? Was the term still used in WWII/Dunkirk for rearguard action or on the first wave of D-Day? Do any other countries use this term?

You need some edumacation. I suggest watching the full serious of Sharpe, where in one example there is a splendid example of the forlorn hope.
Funnily enough I bought the full Sharpe Box Set for Ethel Jnr at Christmas and he and I are now watching them together. A very worthwhile buy and one of the best Christmas presents that you can buy for yourself via someone else!
I lik the idea of transliteration giving us Forelorn hope from Dutch verloren hoop, and adapted as "lost troop", from the description of the mission the idea of losing your hoop has quite a modern resonance.

I suspect the term goes back to the C16th.
I'm pretty sure I read somewhere, that any forlorn hope survivors were awarded a badge of honour. Some sort of laurel leaf affair worn on the sleeve cuff.
I'm pretty sure I read somewhere, that any forlorn hope survivors were awarded a badge of honour. Some sort of laurel leaf affair worn on the sleeve cuff.
I'm sure I read in Sharpe (yes I know it's fiction but Cornwell's usually pretty good with his research) that only the Rifles gave out the laurel wreath badge and the Redcoat battalions didn't offer a badge of distinction.

Wasn't the Sergeant of the party certain to become an Ensign and the officer to be bumped up a rank IF they survived?
BL... was this term forlorn hope used in the civil war... or the sealed knot ?? not being funny, but I have never come across a PERIOD referance to the term
Found this on the Royal Armouries' website:

Charles I and his son Charles, later Charles II, were also depicted wearing the LionArmour on the Forlorn Hope medal which was commissioned by Charles I in1643.This medal was issued by Charles I to the first soldiers who attacked the enemyin battle. Perhaps Charles intended the Lion Armour on the Forlorn Hope medal to beseen as a symbol of his sovereignty as monarch and indicate the hereditary nature of​
monarchy, by showing his son also dressed in the same armour.

Page 5 here


and the medal is here:

HC34 – CHARLES I (1625

Distinguished Service - campaign & gallantry medals | Rhagor

In the true story of Badajoz, a young Ensign of the 95th was leading the Forlorn Hope, he actually survived, unsure if he went onto becoming a General?
I know that it was Cuidad Rodrigo where the Forlorn Hope won the day (led by a junior officer of the Rifles called Gurwood - not sure if he made General later). Definitely worth reading Harry Smith's autobiography on it although he gives credit to 2 other officers for being first on the ramparts, Uniake and Johnstone and says Gurwood milked his part and the glory by getting the Governor and presenting his sword to Wellington (or whatever title he was using at that time). Its a good read with some great insights, you just have to skip the part about Badajoz - he gets dull and sappy for a bit.

Latest Threads