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Talavera and Waterloo
#1
On my last visit to the Wessex I called in on my way home after landing from a cross channel ferry.

There was a good mix of games and plenty of activity to see. One game that caught my eye did so because of the terrain. The lads playing were using a hexagonal scheme. They explained that, for them, it brought more certainty to the positions of units and their confrontation with other units. To me, it looked like a Strategy and Tactics magazine game brought to life with 3D terrain in natural colours. I have experimented in the past with hexagonal bases for figures but never felt I had the patience to construct a whole field of terrain in a hexagonal format.

The game was re-fighting Talavera and, in conversation, I happened to mention that I had been to the Battle of Waterloo 200th Anniversary re-enactment in 2015. They were quite animated by this and expressed that they were disappointed to have missed the event. It certainly drew a big crowd, even from the re-enactors participating. The report was that 8,000 took part in the event. I make that representing about 18:1 on the actual event, excluding the Prussians which I am sure is the way Napoleon would have wanted anyway. Most wargames don't attain a figure ratio near that level. Sure it was probably the biggest such event ever likely to be staged in Europe. For everyone who missed that one, it all is not lost. According to my Belgique friend and neighbour, there is a re-enactment on the Anniversary each year. He professes his brother took part 2 years previous to the 200th event. The best way to corroborate this is to try trusty Google. Such events are usually described as a Spectacle, same word as English but pronounced completely differently in French.

I believe it is quite common for re-enators to have annual events of the anniversary of Battles. The “significant” anniversaries attract greater numbers of participants. For example, there is an annual event for Stamford Bridge. I went on the 950th and met the Archbishop of York. No really, didn't I just say the significant years attracts more people.

Waterloo is quite a good visit even without a re-enactment. The field is compact and easy to walk around. There has been a lot of investment to improve the museums at the site. Even the buildings on the field themselves have had a makeover. Hougoumont must look much better now than it did before the battle! Certainly it is in a lot better shape than when I visited as part of a Wessex Military Society battlefield trip more than 40 years ago. Smile Big Grin
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