Over the weekend of 18th-20th June nearly 5,000 re-enactors gathered just south of Brussels in Belgium to re-enact the Battle of Waterloo.
There were about 2,500 re-enactors portraying the French Army, led by Napoleon (played by Frank Samson).
On the other side, representing the Allied Armies of Britain, Holland and Prussia, commanded by Wellington, Blucher and the Price of Orange, there were around 1,750 re-enactors. There were also around 400 horses and 150 canon on the battlefield.
The two sides set up authentic military bivouacs about 5kms apart from each other and over the weekend, somewhere between 70,000 – 100,000 people visited the site, to explore the bivouacs and watch a series of re-enacted events. There were maneouvres and shooting demonstrations as well as a living recreation of military life in 1815. On Saturday evening there was a re-enacted battle on the field at Placenoit, but the main event was the re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo, which took place very near La Haye Sainte, in the shadow of the Butte du Lion.
People from all over Europe took part: from France, Spain, Portugal, Malta, Poland, Italy, Romania, the Czech Republic, Russia, Holland, Belgium, the UK… they came from all over. There were even people from the US, New Zealand and Australia.
The affair is first and foremost for fun – as the Allied CO, Wagg Ellis-Jones says, “It’s an armed creche!” but participants are also quick to remember that the original battle resulted in the loss of 11,000 men and 10,000 horses. 35,000 men were left wounded on the field, many of whom lay in the mud for 2-3 days waiting for medical help.
The re-enactment at Waterloo is growing thanks to the internet which makes it so much easier for the members of each regiment to find each other and keep in touch.
The Battle of Waterloo is re-enacted every year by a hardcore of re-enactors, but the next large re-enactment will be in 2015, to mark the 200th anniversary of the orginal battle.
Drum played by Oliver Delingpole (9th Foot)
Fife played by Jack West (1st Foot)
Bagpipes played by Mario Tomasone (42nd Highlanders)
For more information see www.1815.be
Courtesy Best Western