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Mangalore (Malabar Coast, Southern India)

Hostilities in southern India between the British and the forces of the local Muslim ruler Hyder Ali (c.1722-1782), and later, his son Tipu Sultan (1753-1799), led to an ongoing series of regional wars known as the First Mysore War (1767-1774), Second Mysore War (1778-1784), Third Mysore War (1790-1792), and the Fourth Mysore War (1799-1800).

It was during the second of these conflicts that the men of the 73rd. Highland Regiment [at that stage numbered the 2nd. Battalion 42nd. Royal Highland Regiment] earned military distinction in the defence of the fortress at Mangalore on the Malabar coast.

The siege of Mangalore began on the 18 May 1783. Tipu Sultan had succeeded his father to the sovereignty of Mysore and he now pressed his claims to control all of southern India. The British garrison made a successful defense until the end of September when Tipu learned that he had lost the support of his French allies, and an armistice was declared. However hostilities began again soon afterwards, and continued without respite until 23 January 1784. At this stage Lt. Col. John Campbell, commanding officer of the British forces was forced to evacuate the fortress.

However, despite the fact that this was a military defeat for the British forces, the stubborn resistance that the 250 soldiers of the 2/42nd and 1500 Indian sepoys allowed them to negotiate a settlement guaranteeing safe passage to rejoin British forces elsewhere on the Malabar coast.

Peace was negotiated with Tipu Sultan on the 11 March 1784, ending the Second Mysore War (1778-1784), and the 2/42nd Regiment was transferred to Calcutta for active service in the Upper Provinces of Bengal. Then, in April 1786, the regiment became the 73rd. Highland Regiment in its own right, with green facings on the uniforms.

Mangalore 'Battle Honour'

However, it was not until 1796, when Major-General Gerard Lake was appointed Colonel of the 73rd. Regiment, that representations were made for the word 'Mangalore' to be added to the Regimental Colours and Appointments. Royal authority for this was granted in November 1796.

Historical Record of the Seventy-Third Regiment. Compiled by Richard Cannon. London: Parker, Furnivall & Parker, 1851.
Fortesque, J.W. A History of the British Army Vol.III 1763 - 1793. London: Macmillan, 1911.
Haythornthwaite, Philip J.The Colonial Wars Source Book. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1995.

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