200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo

Friday, June 18, 1915

Rest Billets, Bethune

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for day: “Order for stand to cancelled, conditions normal.”[1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY:  This day in 2015 marks the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo

Battle of Waterloo square

“The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. A French army under the command of Napoleon was defeated by the armies of the Seventh Coalition, comprising an Anglo-allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington combined with a Prussian army under the command of Gebhard von Blücher.
Upon Napoleon’s return to power in March 1815, many states that had opposed him formed the Seventh Coalition and began to mobilise armies. Two large forces under Wellington and Blücher assembled close to the north-eastern border of France. Napoleon chose to attack in the hope of destroying them before they could join in a coordinated invasion of France with other members of the coalition. Waterloo was the decisive engagement of the Waterloo Campaign and Napoleon’s last. According to Wellington, the battle was “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life”. The defeat at Waterloo ended Napoleon’s rule as Emperor of the French, and marked the end of his Hundred Days return from exile.

Napoleon delayed giving battle until noon on 18 June to allow the ground to dry. Wellington’s army, positioned across the Brussels road on the Mont-Saint-Jean escarpment, withstood repeated attacks by the French, until, in the evening, the Prussians arrived in force and broke through Napoleon’s right flank. At that moment, Wellington’s Anglo-allied army counter-attacked and drove the French army in disorder from the field. Pursuing coalition forces entered France and restored King Louis XVIII to the French throne. Napoleon abdicated, and travelled to Rochefort intending to flee France for the United States, but was persuaded to surrender to Captain Maitland of HMS Bellerophon, part of the British blockade, and was exiled to Saint Helena where he died in 1821.

The battlefield is located in Belgium, about 15 km (9 miles) south of Brussels, and about 2 km (1 mile) from the town of Waterloo. The site of the battlefield today is dominated by a large monument, the Lion’s Mound. As this mound was constructed from earth taken from the battlefield itself, the contemporary topography of the battlefield near the mound has not been preserved.” [2]

“A century ago today, upon the plains of Flanders, almost within sound of the great guns that roar around Ypres, British valor, aided at the eleventh hour by Blücher’s swift marching Prussians, pulled down Napoleon. From that day, until the eager hands of Emperor William clutched at world-power a year ago, no British troops had been seen upon the fields of the Low Countries – the cockpit of Europe. Looking back into the centuries it seems the fate of the Islanders once in a hundred years to die on the plains of Flanders and in the fens of Holland for some great cause.” [3]

Battle of Waterloo drum
RMR’s Battle of Waterloo drum

THE RMR’s WATERLOO DRUM:  “In recognition of the alliance with the West Yorkshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales’s Own), – later the Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire, [and now the 1st Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment ] – the ‘West Yorks’ presented the Royal Montreal Regiment, in 1936, with a Regimental Drum which had been carried by the 14th of Foot, then known as the Buckinghamshire Regiment, at the battle of Waterloo, on 18th June 1815.

The Waterloo Drum followed the Royal Montreal Regiment overseas in 1939 and appeared in every ceremonial parade until its retirement in January 1948. It is ensconced in a glass protective case which is placed near the Regiment’s Colours in the Officers’ Mess.

It was the 3rd Battalion of the 14th Foot that fought at Waterloo, commanded by Lieut.-Col. Francis Tidy. Fourteen officers and three hundred of the five hundred and forty-eight privates who took part in the battle on the right of the line near the Nivelles-Hougemont road, were under twenty years of age.” [4]

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, June 18, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089758.jpg
[2]   Wikipedia contributors, "Battle of Waterloo," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Battle_of_Waterloo&oldid=637396195 (accessed December 13, 2014).
[3]   “War Summary,” The Globe (1844-1936), Toronto, Ontario, Friday, June 18, 1915, pg 1, col. 6.
[4]   Allan Patrick, & Lt.-Col. R Jarymowyez, CD, The Royal Montreal Regiment 1945-1989, The Royal Montreal Regt., Westmount, 1991, pg. 272.

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