In June it will be two hundred years since the Battle of Waterloo and there are lots of books being published on the subject ranging from monster sized biographies of Napoleon Bonaparte or Wellington, to endless blow by blow accounts of the fighting and its aftermath.
One of the most compact and compelling of these publications is Julia Tugendhat’s book Children at the Battle of Waterloo. This book was originally published in 1979 and Julia has produced a revised version.
The book is an hour by hour account of the battle from the viewpoint of the children and young adults who were caught up in the fighting. The children range from fifteen year old Lord William Lennox, two German brothers who unwittingly find themselves on the battlefield, a French drummer boy, seventeen year old William Leeke who is facing battle for the first time and six year old Mary Adwicke who with her mother is a camp follower.
‘They put a skinny chicken in the camp kettle to boil. Mary was a skilled scavenger and had caught it near the farmhouse during the afternoon. After they had eaten, they stretched out together on the bloodstained ground and went to sleep, untroubled by the sounds of suffering around them.’
Julia writes with a clear and compassionate voice. She gives a detailed account of the battle strategy whilst at the same time reminding us of the human cost.
The relaunch of the book is timely not only because of the anniversary of one particular battle but because there are still some fifteen year olds who are finding themselves drawn into conflict.
Produced by The Choir Press
Illustrated by Robin Tronson
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