Today is a day to remember the British army’s greatest 19th century triumph, the Battle of Waterloo. If the British and Prussian-led coalition had not been victorious at Waterloo, Napoleon’s 100 days would have become a French 100 years.
The British victory owed much to the bravery and initiative of a member of the ranks of the Royal Wagon Train, Brewster. He saw that the defenders of the farmhouse at Hougoumont were running out of ammunition. So, he slipped out through the French lines and, under heavy fire, brought back to Hougoumont fresh supplies of ammunition. Without Brewster’s intervention, the farmhouse would have fallen—as La Haye Sainte did—and the battle would have been lost.
But despite these noble tales of heroism, Waterloo has become a rather forgotten battle. Hougoumont itself was falling into disrepair, with souvenir hunters simply looting the site. But, thankfully, something is now being done about this.
George Osborne, who is surprisingly passionate about the battle and its importance, has committed public money to help with the restoration of Hougoumont for the 200th anniversary of the battle next year. But private support is still needed. Do have a look at the Project Hougoumont website if you have a chance. This is an event worth commemorating.
More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.