Friday, 10 April 2009


After a sleepless night, due to the heavy and noisy traffic, we woke up feeling tired and weary. Looking out of the window it was a grey sky with light drizzle. Not wishing to waste any more time than necessary we packed, had breakfast and booked out of the hotel.

We left Brussels against the flow of incoming rush hour traffic, and we were soon driving through the peaceful Soignes forest . The sky cleared, and so did our mood. We passed a road sign for Waterloo, and that cheered us even more.

As we neared the town of Waterloo we spotted a nice little bar called Les Couleurs. We stopped for a drink and were delighted that they also offered rooms, and that they were less expensive than our noisy one in Brussels. We dropped off the suitcases and continued to Waterloo.

As we drove through Waterloo we noticed the Wellington HQ museum. This one is well worth a visit. On the day we were there we were the only visitors. I sat at the table where Wellington wrote his famous dispatch, but unfortunately did not take any photographs. I also sat on the bed where Gordon died. Apparently it was Wellingtons bed, but he gave it to the dying Gordon, whilst he sat next door and wrote the dispatch. We stayed there for about an hour.

By the time we left Waterloo it was almost lunch time. We had not seen a cafe, and it was a now a warm and sunny day, so we decided on a picnic. We found a supermarket and bought some bread and cheese and looked for somewhere nice to eat it.

Jan was map reading, which is not her strong point. But this time she did quite well, found a pretty little village with a small park. It was the village of Ohain. At this time I did not know a lot about the battle of Waterloo, but I was fortunate that I had got hold of a book called "Waterloo" by Jac Weller. This proved to be the most perfect battlefield companion. It looks very old fashioned by today's standards, with lots of black and white photographs. However these are ideal for locating exactly where on the battlefield you are. As we had lunch I checked the Index of Places at the back, and read aloud the part this little village had played in the battle.

Ohain was on the far left of Wellingtons battle line, and was held by Dutch Belgian troops. Because there were no British troops in this area, it is not (at least in 1971) particularly well known. Fortunately there is a section about the area in the book, so we got a grasp of the confused fighting that took place here.

There is no mention in the book about the church in relation to the battle, but it is a very interesting building to look around

To be best of my knowledge this card did not play any part in the events of 1815, but it was the closest we could come to something that might have been there at the time.

We bought these old black and white post cards in the local shop. I think they give a much better feel of the village than the colour photos I took. You can almost feel the infantry marching down the cobbled streets.

Another timeless picture of Ohain. Although the post cards were old, the village was not at all changed when we were there. And I felt that this gave a much better impression of what it musts have looked like in 1815 than parts of the battlefield itself - particularly around the Lion Mound.
We spent all afternoon walking around the village, and as evening arrived we returned to our hotel. Very tired, but feeling that the holiday was looking up. We had not yet explored the battlefield itself, but we did have a feel for the area.
Tomorrow we would start to walk the ground. But not at Waterloo, we would start where Wellingtons campaign started - at Quatre Bras.


  1. Excellent stuff - yet another blog "must read" taking me away from the painting table!! :o))

    Keep it up - walking battlefields is a great favourite of mine as well...

  2. I have the exact same Weller book except mine's missing the jacket! I will have to read through the section dealing with Ohain.

  3. Hi Steve

    Thanks for the comments.

    Sorry about the distraction from painting!


  4. Hi Larry

    "Wellington at Waterloo" is an excellent book for a battlefield companion. Great descriptions of the battle with lots of detail. But even more important those wonderful aerial photographs make it so easy to orientate yourself on the ground.

    My book jacket has more or less survived. But the book is very well thumbed, and there are lots of marks direct from Waterloo. It opens on the sections I used most when we were there.

    I was so impressed I immediately bought "Wellington in the Peninsular". But much more of that later.


  5. What a great entry - I look forward to more!


  6. Thanks Greg

    Hope you like Quatre Bras



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