18th June 1815
The Battle of Waterloo took place on 18th June 1815 ending 20 years of conflict in Europe. Britain’s great military victory ended the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte and was one of the most decisive battles in the history of Europe. It was fought by 191,300 soldiers – Wellington’s army had 67,000 soldiers, Blücher’s army 52,300 and Napoleon’s army 72,000. During the battle a total of 48,500 men fell or were severely wounded.
Yet 200 years after the Battle of Waterloo, there was no memorial on the site to commemorate the British troops. By contrast the site boasts The Wounded Eagle memorial, dedicated to the last soldiers of Napoleon’s Grand Army, and The Hannover Monument, erected in honour of the Soldiers of the city of Hannover. The only monument to a Briton is The Gordon Monument , opposite the Hannover Monument. It was built in 1817 in honour of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Alexander Gordon KCB by his family.
Belgium, Waterloo, Butte Du Lion. Photo of stone with explantion of battle.
Waterloo remembered in London
At Waterloo Station in London there is a new memorial to the 24,000 allied soldiers (British, Prussian, Dutch and Hanoverian soldiers) killed in the Battle of Waterloo.
The unveiling ceremony in London by the current Duke of Wellington, Charles Wellesley, took place on 10th June 2015.
According to the Daily Mail the memorial is a large replica of the reverse of the Waterloo Campaign medal – the first medal to be given to every solider in a battle regardless of their rank – made in solid bronze by the London Mint Office and the artist Jason Brooks. The Waterloo Memorial features Nike, the Greek goddess of victory and has a “tribute to the fallen soldiers carved in granite, along with the Duke of Wellington’s words: ‘My heart is broken by the terrible loss I have sustained in my old friends and companions and my poor soldiers. Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.'”
Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter told the Daily Mail ‘With the 200th anniversary of the Battle this year, it seems only right that these brave soldiers should be commemorated with a plaque in the form of a giant medal that reflects the huge sacrifice that they made. Not only that, it is at a place that will forever be linked in people’s minds to the Battle – Waterloo Station – to ensure that they will never be forgotten.’
Wellington’s heroes remembered in Belgium
A Waterloo monument, designed by sculptress Vivien Mallock, was also unveiled on the battlefield in Belgium in 2015. The unveiling was conducted by Prince Charles at a ceremony on 17th June 2015.
Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Astrid of Belgium toured Hougoumont, which has recently undergone a £3m project to restore it following years of neglect. The new memorial standing just over 6ft high, features two life-size British soldiers struggling to close the north gates of the farm at Hougoumont during the attack by the French. The defence of the farm was so strategically important that Wellington later said the outcome of Waterloo “turned on the closing of the gates at Hougoumont”. The new memorial also features quotes from the Duke of Wellington. One reads ‘Next to a battle lost the greatest misery is a battle gained’, while the other says ‘Never was a place more fiercely assaulted nor better defended’.
Barry Van Danzig told the Daily Mail, ‘It is now 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo and there are monuments on the field to the Prussians, the French, the Dutch and the Hanoverians. In fact, every nation that was there is commemorated except the British. It is absolutely right that these magnificent men are commemorated and we have been very proud to have played our part.’