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Our Waterloo too!!!!

sunny 22 °C

This ground is soaked in blood, no sooner had we left the Ardennes and the tragedy of the battles around Bastogne and and La Roche 80 years ago than we arrive in Waterloo the site of Napoleon's last stand. In 1815, 100 years before WW1 Napoleon escaped from the island of Elba, gathered loyal followers, challenged Louis XV111 and again put his plans in play to subjugate as much of Europe as he could.

Seeing a possible return to his attempted mastery over all of Europe a number of European countries determined to end the constant warfare combined under the command of the Duke of Wellington in order to end this turmoil. Wellington was joined by Dutch, German and Belgian forces to try to halt his plans, Waterloo in not far from Brussels and was, at the time, a part of the Netherlands but is now a part of Belgium. Napoleon was keen to take on Wellington and his troops before Austria and Russia became involved.
The opposing army's met on a single day in June 1815 with Napoleon bringing some 72.000 men whilst the allied army's totaled approx 120.000 men. In one single day of battle Napoleon's causalities were around 33,000 whilst Wellingtons totaled 22,000 almost equal in total to the British losses on the first day of the Battle of the Somme just 100 years later. It is unfathomable how that much death can stain the earth in such a short amount of time.
Whilst the outcome of Waterloo was a close call and many seem to suggest that the reason Napoleon lost was because he wasted too much time early on in the day giving the Prussians time to arrive with support for Wellington. Ultimately the tragedy was experienced by all. In the wake of the devastation Wellington was quoted ; "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost, can be half so melancholy as a battle won."
This saw the last of Napoleon but it also brought in what was referred to as 'Pax Britannica' a time of peace that lasted for almost 100 years where there were no further battles on the European continent.


Given the significance of the battle it didn't take long for the first memorials to be erected on the site. Ten years on the recognisable 'Lion's Mound" was built at the request o the Dutch king on the spot where his son (who survived the battle) was wounded on the shoulder and knocked from his horse., it was built from the soil of the battle ground and can be seen for miles around. There a 227 steps to the top with a Lion Monument on the top.

As the 100th anniversary approached a rotunda was erected with a panorama depiction of the battle for a full 360 degrees.
Much more recently a 'high tech' interactive museum has been built underground so as not to impact the historic sky line. The museum takes you on a journey to discover the circumstances that led to the battle, a detailed analysis of the various stages of the battle and the outcome for the average soldiers and for the commanders. There was also a 4D theater experience of the battle. We did struggle with tech sources but we were definitely not alone.
Back to Goes from here and time to rest with family before celebrating John's 70th birthday.

Posted by Seniorcitizens 07:48 Archived in Belgium

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