Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Eighteen fifteen

I was at the 180th anniversary battle re-enactment. Having driven over with a carful of likeminded pissheads friends, we met up with hundreds of re-enactors from all over Europe and beyond. Between drinking sessions we were billeted in local schools.

A curious thing happened on the way to the battle site. I had 'senior officers' in my car, and I was also in uniform, as a junior artillery officer. Asking how to get through the traffic, a motorcycle cop took one look at all the gold braid, said, "Suivez-moi" and we carved our way through the congestion accompanied by twos and blues.

I spent the entire afternoon of the battle on the ridge overlooking the battle site with the rest of the artillery, shooting at the French. Our four-pounder ran out of black powder, and we had to nick some from some nearby Germans.



Gnomad said...

I have visited that same location myself with more than a few chums, not for a re-enactment though, but as part of our education as junior NCOs

That was where I won the "Battalion Anorak" trophy for knowing more than the tour guide and the museum curator about the armour, weapons, uniforms and tactics of the period.

What is slightly odd, at least from an Englishman's point of view, is the proliferation of memorials celebrating the French "achievements" but so few celebrating those of the forces of Blucher, Orange or indeed Wellington. One would almost think that the French had won, judging by the monuments.

One such memorial to a French Pioneer Corporal goes on at some length about his heroic defence of a certain gateway at a certain farmhouse, and makes no mention at all that the defence failed and that the French Corporal was, metaphorically speaking, made to kiss his own axe by the rather more determined assault of the First of Foot Guards.

I did feel sufficiently moved by the experience to visit Les Invalides to pay my (admittedly two-fingered) respects at the mausoleum of the late Corsican and was almost beaten up for my pains by some very short-haired and "patriotic" young Frenchmen, but thats another story.

LGoC said...

Tradition/urban legend has it that newly minted wearers of the maroon beret visit Les Invalides and ask who's tomb that is.

"M'sieur, that is the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, the greates soldier who ever lived!"

"Really, where were his jumps?"


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