The day after I saw the absolutely fantastic Battle of Waterloo 200th Anniversary Re-enactment, we visited a small town nearby called Braine-l’Alleud.

In 1815, Braine-l’Alleud had a population of around 2,500 and 250 houses, most of them with two rooms on the ground floor. A ladder led to the two bedrooms under the rafters.

There was a toilet outside the back door which was emptied twice a year. But most sewage was used on the land, or thrown into the gutter.

Yes, that’s right. They had an average of 10 people living in each house.

About one in five houses had an alcohol licence.f5704512

On Saturday, 17th June 1815, the weather was terrible. Late afternoon, the town filled up with Dutch-Belgian soldiers who were soaked and covered with mud.

Up to 10 soldiers were billeted in each overcrowded house.

With the cauldron over the open fire, the drying-out soldiers and the family members, it must have been pretty whiffy in there!

At 11.30 on Sunday, 18th June, trumpets rallied the troops, who were all very drunk!

It’s amazing that these troops repelled Napoleon’s Imperial Guard at 7.30 pm!f5684032

Dawn on Monday 19th June broke over a horrific sight like something from Dante’s Inferno.

180,000 men had fought on the battlefield, and 50,000 of them lay dead and wounded amidst the corpses of horses, abandoned cannons and other military and personal belongings.

Looters grabbed what they could, not caring if their victims were alive or dead.

Local Mayors were held responsible for stolen items, including horses. But after house searches and appeals fell on deaf ears, they finally bought back stolen goods!f5672640 (Small)

Braine-l’Alleud sprung into action. Mayor Panquin started organising everything from dawn with his two deputies.

He requisitioned all the local farmers to load the wounded onto their carts, and, with the help of the Sisters of the Marolles, their young boarders, and the local people, the Church of Saint-Etienne was transformed into a hospital, filled with straw on the ground and bales to be used as operating tables.

The doctors arrived and checked all their surgical instruments with the nuns’ help, laying out alcohol, laudanum, tincture of opium, and gangrene prevention. They showed some people how to use bandages and tourniquets and to pile up the lint.f5746880

Now the weather turned fiercely hot and the heat and stench in the church was unbearable. So the Mayor arranged for 16 stained-glass windows to be removed.

For two days the blood-stained victims, who were mostly French, were collected in carts and delivered to all the barns around the town. 30-40 cartloads arrived daily.

Sadly, on the 25th June, there were still 40 cartloads of the most seriously wounded men waiting to be taken somewhere for treatment.

A lot of rapid amputations were done. Surgeons discovered that, drastic as it seems, amputations often prevented gangrene, which could kill.

Seeing the town’s re-enactment really brought the happenings of 1815 to life and made me think about their unselfishness when it was desperately needed.f5791296

All around the Waterloo Battlefield, similar sites were full of volunteers frantically working to save hundreds of lives, including in the Waterloo Brewery, Mont St-Jean which was set up as a hospital by the Duke of Wellington, and treated over 6,000 wounded British with the help of the local people.

A lot of the Belgians opened their own homes – and their hearts – to help the wounded of both sides, some of whom were their enemies, even though most of them were struggling to earn a living to support their own families. And a lot of them had their crops destroyed, their food donated to the troops, and their lives generally disrupted by the Battle. But they went out of their way to give help when it was needed, to complete strangers.

I’d love to find out how many lives they saved, and whether any friendships were formed and carried on through the years to come.

I think that what they did was as memorable and moving as the Battle!


www.whybelgium.co.uk, http://www.museewellington.be/


For the Waterloo memorial and other events and Napoleon’s last headquarters http://www.waterlooandbeyond.be/en/actualites





The Waterloo restaurants in Waterloo were








More about Hougoumont Farm



Belgian Tourist Office- Brussels & Wallonia

217 Marsh Wall, London E14 9FJ

Tel : +44 (0) 20 7531 0392





About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd www.andrewsuk.com No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.