The Keep Military Museum, Dorchester, Dorset
Lt Col Colquhoun Grant CB, 1780 - 1829
The Duke of Wellington's Head of Intelligence
The First Devon & Dorset
Colquhoun Grant was brought up in Morayshire. At the age of fifteen he obtained the rank of Ensign in the 11th Regiment of Foot (later the Devon Regiment). When the 11th raided Ostend, Grant was captured and spent almost a year in captivity at Douai. Later he served with the 11th in the West Indies, Madeira and in the Peninsula.
He soon became a trusted 'Intelligence Officer' of whom Wellington later said 'no army in the world ever produced the like'. He spent much time in enemy lines, but always in uniform, conducting secret intelligence, but never acting as a spy. On one occasion he was surprised by some French Dragoons, was taken prisoner and sent to Salamanca. Subsequently he escaped and made his way to Paris and England before returning to Spain and engaging in further 'intelligence duties'.
Following a period on half-pay in 1821 he was transferred to the 54th Regiment of Foot (later the 2nd Dorset's) who was then proceeding from the Cape to India. Under his command the 54th flourished and served with distinction in the first Burmese War, which resulted in Grant being awarded the CB (Companion of the Order of the Bath). Service in India and Burma took its toll on his health and as a result he left the army in 1829 and died the same year at Aix La Chapelle where a monument was erected in his memory. The life of Lt Col Colquhoun is recalled in a book entitled 'The First Respectable Spy' by Jock Haswell.