Monday, 29 June 2015

Waterloo 2015 - Part 3 - The Battle

For the first post in this series see here: Part 1
For the second post in the series see here: Part 2

Flushed with the experience of all those lovely ladies (see Part 2) on our way to the battle reenactment, we finally were let in to the grandstands and made our way to the standing area at the far side of the battlefield.

Originally we thought that we would be disadvantaged standing for nearly 4 hours waiting and then watching the battle instead of paying extra for a seat, but in the long run I think we had a better deal and a better view.

One criticism about the event I did have was that the tannoy commentary was atrocious on the saturday (I believe people had complained after the friday battle and the commentary was supposed to have been rectified - but not in my opinion)

Standing on the field a few hours before the actual battle started at 8pm we did get to see the armies march on as well as the placement of the massed batteries of cannon. Small cavalry engagements took place as well as a few minor skirmishes between scouting parties of light troops.

Then it was suddenly 8pm. The battle, which would recreate the allied counter attack, started with a crescendo of cannon fire and the charge of cavalry across the ground. Donzelots division marched in perfect precision down the slope towards La Haye Sainte, soon to be repulsed by the garrisoned troops and allied counter attacks from cavalry.

The Scots Greys thundered across the field through the French ranks just as 200 years ago and reached the gun line only to be chased down by fresh Lancers!

The far side of the battlefield encompassing Hougoumont was a haze of thick smoke and nothing could be seen for the most part. Occassionally the fog of war would part and suddenly a blur of blue movement would be seen (from the French Troops) then a savage massive volley of fire from the redcoated defenders.

We watched mesmerized solidly for the whole two hours and it was right in front of our position that the Prussians marched on the French Flank and also placed a full battery of guns which when fired in unison shook the ground under our feet.

Suddenly a huge cry of Viv La France was heard and the ranks of the Imperial Guard advanced on the weakened allied line. As they crested the ridge, a huge body of red coated guardsmen stood up and loosed such a fusilade into the pack ranks of the Old Guard that the quivered...stopped...then turned. The Old Guard was retrating, the allies advanced and Napoleon was seen to be fleeing the field. Wellington had secured his victory and the face of European history had bee changed.

What an incredible sight and feeling to be stood on the same ground and although of a smaller scale, relive that fateful battle. Very priviledged to be able to attend the Waterloo Bicentenary.





Friday, 26 June 2015

Waterloo 2015 - Part 2 - Around the Battlefield

For the first post in my Waterloo adventures see here: Part 1

After the Camps our group had the rest of the day to explore around the battlefield and its many historical monuments and places of interest. Unfortunately due to time constraints we were not able to go farther afield and visit the likes of Quatra Bras, Ligny and Placentoit.

So on carrying on up the Brussels/Charleroi road we stopped to observe La Haye Sainte. This pivitol building is now a working farm and access is strictly denied to the public by its owners, however access was afforded to the Allied Reenactors who had the privaledge of parading and then marching through this historic site.

All along the road just offset from the path are numerous monuments and statues, dedicated to various Allied and French units.
Monument to the Hannoverian Infantry of the Allied Army 

Fallen Eagle Monument to the French Elite Garde Imperiale
Monument to the brave stand 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot
Monument to the Dutch Belgian Forces of the Allied Army
Napoleons Statue behind his Headquarters - Le Caillou
Monument to Captain Mercer and G Troop Royal Horse Artillery who took part in conspicuosly defeating the massed French Cavalry Attack
Plaque to Maj Baring and the KGL at La Haye Sainte
Plaque to French Forces of Donzelots Divison who took La Haye Sainte
Monument to General Gordon, Aide de Camp to Wellington
Statue to the French 6th Regiment D'artillerie Pied under Colonel Hulot who supported attacks made by the French 1st Corps

After taking note of the various Statues and Monuments we had a quick look round La Belle alliance. This building on the Brussels/Charleroi road is reputedly where Wellington and Blucher met, shook hands and agreed upon the Prussians pursuing the defeated French forces back to Paris. La Belle Alliance wasnt open to the public, but the side doors on the road to Placentoit were open and a couple were selling some extreamly gorgeously illustrated books (similar in style and quality of Osprey but hardback) unfortunately they were all written in French.

With everything possibly seen (I think) we made our way back to the Lions Mound and Lions Village where I had arranged to meet up with Stefan Ko. Stefan had driven up from Dussledorf for the day with two of his friends and it was a wonderful experience managing to meet up with and have a very pleasant chat about hobby/history/blogging topics, we had our picture taken under the (non original) Elm Tree at Wellingtons Crossroads. Stefan was a most excellent bloke and hopefully it wont be the last time we get to meet. I didnt envy his drive back to Germany in the early hours of Sunday morning but glad he arrived home safely.

A quick look round the rest of the village souveniers and buildings, bumping into a couple of Napoleons Officers and then some very nice food consumed, whislt we were devouring our rather nice nosh the Garde Imperiale Band paraded outside the Panarama building at the bottom of the Lions Mound and proceeded to play. Most fantastic and soon the crowds were flocking to watch. We decided then to get to our watching area for the battle early to beat the crowds. Yeh us and countless thousands of others!!

Although not complaing as due to our early dash for places to watch the battle, I came across Emperess Josephine and these lovely ladies. Definately a photo opportunity and a few Ladies in waiting got my number as old Boney was going to get beat, so they would be unemployed soon ;-)

Oh whats a poor Englishman to do eh???