Our esteemed leader has been skiving off again for a jolly around Europe – It’s not at all strange then that Johns jaunt just happened to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Waterloo!
Luckily he was followed by our good friend Tony Clements, with his trusty old camera, for this leg of the journey so we can all partake of the splendid pageantry surrounding Waterloo.
Well here I am along with my ECW chums from the Sealed Knot Regiment, formed newly 2 years ago especially to go to these celebrations. Proud we are too as the 2nd biggest single firing line, 44 redcoats (1 sergeant, no officer or colours) of the Kings Own! Here we are all resting in our encampment, ahead lay several action packed days
Preparing to march with the Band giving us the rousing “lilie Bolero” The battles kicked off most unusually at around 8pm till dusk at 10pm, normal convention would have battles at a more civilised 2pm-5pm & home for Tea.
Above; Grim Brunswicker guards Wellingtons HQ tent (note the skull and cross bones insignia – do you remember that Mitchell And Webb sketch on C4 “Are We The Bad Guys”?)
‘Les Bleus’ there were plenty of fine studies of uniforms – much effort being placed on correct dress of the period (Albeit very clean, when it comes to wargaming I like a lot more dirt & weathering on my troops), indeed there were units from across the world including (although technically not at Waterloo) a detachment of Royal Marines from Malta and some lost Russians! Ideal material for any wargamer of the period.
Close order drill in searing heat of midday, such fun! With many nationalities and small units there was much ‘blocking’ going on; 10’s added too to make 20 for a regiment and 2 units of 20 matched to make a brigade, just as with our wargames.
And it’s not all flat you know, making a line much harder to adhere too than you’d expect – rather like my wargames table… ahem.
Dull makes perfect…..
Chasseurs of the guard discuss weighty matters
R.A. foot battery – it was alleged that there were some 100 guns present this anniversary! We, the public, were allowed unrestricted access in the encampments where there were many fascinating details of campaign life.
Pre battle uniform inspection
Proud ensigns carry the Kings Colour and Regimental Colour (The Kings Colours are always on the right as they march unless you have a Guards regiment who do the opposite – Wargamers take note!)
New Monument to the defenders of Hougoumont. Lovely
Restored buildings in time for the 200th anniversary looking splendid
French panache, what’s not to like!
Guards in deep blue greatcoats as would have been seen at Waterloo!
Light Dragoons having given their horses a day off
French Line plod to the front – note the height of the modern corn field behind the line, roughly 4 foot. Back in the 1800s corn fields would have been 5’5″ to 6 Foot in height, imagine marching through that when it was wet!
Swanky, but can they fight?
A fantastic end to the week for me and I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the sights I’ve been able to share with you. With over 5000 re-enactors, 300 cavalry, & those 100 guns (well the 30 I saw anyway) and near on 120,000 spectators, I can at least say that 200 years on I could truly see the spectacle of so many people in the one place. In fact that’s the same amount of troops near enough that actually took part before the Prussians arrived!
Of course some of the highlights for me were watching the British troops marching out of Le Haye Sainte, and the 95th skirmishing across the fields – something most farmers would not turn a blind eye to! Although we were able to get many a fine shot ourselves some of the events were out of our sight or just so inspiring you just had to be there to marvel. Here are some of the shots from the worlds press to help you feel the terrific effort put in by so many heroic men and women from across the globe on this auspicious occasion. Roll on 2025 will you join us for the next great anniversary event?
Inspired? then re-enact your own Waterloo with these sets: