Military Historians – Charlatans, Liars, and Plagiarists!

… and I thought I was applying normal academic disciplines when I wrote military history.

“…Military history really is the armpit of of all historical disciplines. It is popular, and lucrative, which means it attracts the worst of charletans [sic], liars, and plagiarists, and those interested in making the most out of the least work. It can also pander to the most adolescent ‘Lord Jim” fantasies of derring-do…a romanticism which by its nature needs to diminish or refute real historical evidence to survive. And it can do this while holding the reader and the public in contempt – regurgitating outright lies, re-assemblling the same fanciful colour pictures in yet another slightly different book cover…”

Frank, of the Knapsack Museum.

Posted on the Facebook page of the 2nd battalion, 95th Rifles

See 6 for the full article.

Any comments? I’m certainly wondering where I’ve been going wrong. “Lucrative”? “The least work”? I don’t think so. Perhaps I’ve been working in the wrong period! (Carole Divall)


French on the March

Thanks to Paul Chamberlain for creating links to a sequence of the music to which the French armies marched. These can be viewed on either the Waterloo Association or Waterloo200 Facebook pages. Stirring stuff. We could now do with something similar for other armies of the period.



Sept 11/12       International Conference at King’s College, London

Nov 9                Belgian Tourist Board Float in Lord Mayor’s Show


March              Fondation Napoleon Conference at Waterloo, Belgium

April                 End of Peninsular Campaign, study weekend at Higham Hall

June                Peninsular War 200 Conference at Apsley House

June                Road to Waterloo event at Royal Hospital, Chelsea

July                 Quatre Bras re-enactment at Blenheim Palce

November      Evolution of Medicine 1815-1915 at Royal College of Surgeons

December      Waterloo scene in British Military Tournament

December      Wellington College hold pageant based on Wellington at Wembley


January           Exhibition at Windsor Castle until December

February         “Bonaparte and the British” at British Museum until October

March              Wellington exhibition at National Portrait Gallery until June

March              Belgian Tourist Board event at Wellington Arch

May                  “March for Peace” at Waterloo, Belgium


10/11                 Army hold Pageant on Horse Guards

17                      Wellington Banquet at Guildhall

18                      Commemorative Service at St Pauls

18                      International Conference in Vienna

18                      International Event at Waterloo/ecumenical service/tattoo

18                      New Waterloo Dispatch departs Waterloo

18                      Apsley House Dinner

19                      First re-enactment on battlefield

19                      New Waterloo Dispatch departs from Brussels

20/21                Regency Fair in St James’s Square

20/21                Generic weekend of Waterloo events

21                      Second re-enactment on battlefield

21                     New Waterloo Dispatch arrives St James’s Square

September     Spectacle of War exhibition at Royal Academy

Other exhibitions planned at British Library and Cambridge University Library 


Latest News

A list of events leading up to the bicentennial commemoration in June 2015 may be consulted in News and Events. Further information about these events will be posted as it becomes available.

Details of The Richard Holmes Memorial Prize (KS3 and KS5) may be found in Education News.

How things can change in three weeks. At Waterloo, encamped at Hougoumont, it was impossible to look at the iconic buildings without feeling despair. A week later, at the Chalke Valley History Festival, people were beginning to believe that they could be saved now that the Chancellor has agreed to inject money into their restoration. And last weekend, at the Schools History Project Conference, a good number of teachers were feeling positive about teaching Waterloo (and the Napoleonic Wars). Some were also intending to make a visit Waterloo an additional part of a trip to WWI battlefields.

War walks – Waterloo

One to revisit if you’ve already seen it and to watch if you haven’t! The much missed Richard Holmes “walks” the battlefield of Waterloo. Access at War Walks – Waterloo (SOIE02) (

1914 and 1815 Commemoration

An interesting approach to commemorating both the Christmas Truce of 1914 and the Battle of Waterloo has been developed at Mildenhall College, Suffolk, under the direction of Dan Greef, Head of History. Read the details in ‘Education News’ or ‘News and Events’.

I’m sure you’ll agree that the idea is one other schools could copy as a reminder that both WWI and the Napoleonic Wars were crucial European events.

1914 and 1815 Commemoration

From Dan Greef, Head of History, Mildenhall College, Suffolk:

We have seen in the popular media, History being used to tell a national story, to reinforce our own national identity. However, at Mildenhall College we have decided to use the past as a way to bring young people of different nationalities together. In December 2012 we as a college arranged a trip to the battlefields of Flanders, Belgium, to see the places associated with the Christmas Truce of 1914. However, we decided that this would be a fantastic opportunity for us to partake in international collaboration with a school in Germany. Through the UK-German Connection we made links with the Gymnasium Theodorianum school in Paderborn, Germany. We met on a bright December morning in Ypres and spent the day visiting many battlefield sites including Hooge Crater, Prowes Point, and many cemeteries. We also located the spot where Bruce Bairnsfather wrote about the meeting in no-man’s land and where each side came together to share the Christmas of 1914. When in no-man’s land we found time to share friendship with our new German friends. As we had brought a football we even had a little kick-about! As the sun began to set we made our way to the Ploegsteert Memorial and sang Silent Night/Stille Nacht in alternate English and German verses, ending by everyone shaking hands.

Since that meeting and subsequent visit to Paderborn in March, our combined students are now designing our own monument to remember this warm fraternal moment in the cold winter of 1914. We plan to have completed this by the end of this summer term and the village of Mesen has already offered to provide us with a space to erect our finished work. Our German students have given a talk about their experience to the German Monumnets and Cemeteries Commission who have been so taken by the project that they have agreed to help funding towards out project, meaning that we can now employ a stonemason to sculpt the design that our students create.

Where next with this work? We will unveil the monument with both schools present. Then we are looking for more opportunities to remember the Christmas Truce in the centenary year of 1914.

We have seen first-hand the momentous impact that this project has had on our students at home and in Germany. Our next step is a school trip to Waterloo this July with a view to make the same contacts with schools in France and perhaps even other nations involved on that momentous day in June 1815.


Loyalist Soldiers at Waterloo

I’ve just been searching the Waterloo Roll for the ancestor of a contact from the US and found myself wondering how many men who fought there were loyalists or the sons of loyalists like the man I was looking for. Probably the most famous was Colonel Sir William Howe de Lancey, Deputy Quartermaster-General. Another was Captain Alexander McNabb of the 30th, killed by grapeshot late in the battle. There must have been many more. Any information would be welcome.

From Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter

I was interested in the piece on Lt Matthew Anderson as one of the great controversies is ‘Who defeated the Imperial Guard?’ The 1st Guards claim this feat and were rewarded by the Prince Regent with a new title, ‘Grenadier Guards’. It was on July 24th that the 1st Guards received the following order:

HRH The Prince Regent in the name of the Sovereign, has been pleased to direct that their Regiment should henceforth be styled ‘The First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards’ in commemoration of having defeated the French Imperial Guard at Waterloo.

However, there is a strong claim by the 52nd Foot that it was their flank action which actually stopped the Middle Guard in their tracks and led to their defeat. So is the 1st Guards’ feat a myth to join several other myths of the battle?