Friday, April 29, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
When Napoleon abdicated (the first time) as emperor General Van Merlen returned home and joined the military forces of the newly planned United Kingdom of the Netherlands (which was to be a dual Dutch-Belgian state) thinking, like many, that Napoleon was gone forever. However, in 1815, Europe was surprised when Napoleon came back and quickly assumed power for himself again. Belgians like General Van Merlen who had fought in the French service were looked at with some suspicion, however, he was loyal to his new country and remained in the service of the Dutch-Belgian Army. This was particularly painful for General Van Merlen since his younger brother was, at the same time, on the other side, fighting in the service of the French II Corps of General Reille. At the battle at Quatre-Bras General Van Merlen led his forces into battle against the French. He commanded the 2nd Netherlands Light Cavalry Brigade which consisted of two regiments: the 6th Dutch Hussars and the 5th Belgian Light Dragoons.
At 3.00 PM General Van Merlen charged his horsemen into the battle against Foy and his advancing infantry. His men cut and slash in the French lines but were hopelessly outnumbered by the arriving cavalry of Piré. Everyone was hard pressed and the fighting was desperate, even the Duke of Wellington had to jump behind the line of the 92nd Highlanders to save himself from the French. General Van Merlen and his brigade lost 171 men at Quatre-Bras. When the main battle of Waterloo began, Van Merlen was kept back with Collaert in reserve in the fourth line near Mont St Jean farm. However, when the French cavalry charged the Allied lines, riding through the infantry who formed squares, Van Merlen had numerous occasions to make counter-attacks against the French horsemen all afternoon. There is a story that in one such frenzied fight he captured a French general who had been an old acquaintance of his when in the service of Napoleon. Rather than make him a prisoner, Van Merlen saluted the Frenchman and said, “General, this is my side of the battlefield, yours is over there. Take care of yourself; farewell!” and let him go back to his side. However, only a short time after this act of chivalry, he was badly wounded and taken to the Mont St Jean farm where he suffered for two hours before finally his death came. He had fought all over Europe in several services but his last words were that he died peacefully because he had never harmed anyone.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
|The famous "Canaries"|
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
First World War and read the view of an American visiting the battlefield.
The idea for showing this movie came from The Cross of Laeken who showed the funeral of King Umberto II of Italy, husband of Princess Marie-Jose of Belgium. They show the royal figures of around the world who came to the funeral of King Baudouin. I saw the Crown Prince of Italy though I don't think they point him out and I think they made a mistake confusing the Crown Princess of Sweden with the Queen of Sweden.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
I had not read much about how much controversy surrounded King Leopold II until I came to university and discovered how many people really hate him. All I knew of King Leopold II was the stern figure of pictures and statues but what I associate the most with Leopold II was the many buildings he left behind. As a child I was taken to see the sights and remember it seemed as if everything really magnificent was built by King Leopold II. Because of that I assume is why the image in my mind I have of his reign was an image of splendor and greatness for the country, a time when Belgians were together in big dreams, big adventures and basically acting bigger than most countries so small would. I always like that. It is hard to view all of these tremendous buildings and not have an awesome feeling I think. I wish the coastal retreat had been finished, what I have heard makes me think that would have been magnificent but, here are some favorites I recall of the magnificent monuments left behind by the second King of the Belgians, the legacy of Leopold II.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
This scene is from the movie "Indiana Jones and the Trenches of Hell". I should give background: Indiana Jones lied about his age and joined the Belgian army as "Henri Defense" to fight in World War I. Before this scene it is explained that his company had been through heavy fighting and all their officers and sergeants are killed. That is why the lieutenant and sergeant are French, they are temporary until Belgian replacements can arrive. The French nor Belgians are happy about this "our countries have had their differences" the lieutenant says but, I like the French general saying the Belgians "are hell on the enemy" (yes!) and they get into this heavy fighting seen here. It seems very realistic to me though I don't know about the Germans horses wearing gas-masks, I never saw that before, seems unreal. Good showing though of how hard the fighting was for the Belgian troops in World War I.
Monday, April 4, 2011
The King and politicians may be upset with Prince Laurent over his recent private visit to the Congo, but he still has some public support. On 1 April Prince Laurent and Princess Claire visited Ghent where the crowd applaused for the Prince an extra-long time. The mayor thanked him heartfully for coming to keep the engagement despite all of the bad press and criticism he has been getting since going to the Congo. He called the prince very brave even and Prince Laurent was so touched he and the mayor embraced each other. Perhaps not everyone in the public is so stupid as the politicians and media people think and they can actually see how ridiculous it is to treat Prince Laurent in such a way to simply divert attention from their own glaring failures. I hope the prince knows not everyone is against him!