Saturday, 10 May 2014

Going Dutch. Part 2.

More coffee and crepes and Drill.

I  went and did some sketching, I like to draw a quick scene or two at every event but also I like it as a camplife scene and members of public often stop and look, I had several chats with members of public. Then went and tested out musket. Yep, all was well.

Battle. Day 2.  Started much as yesterday, a cavalry charge down the field, then an artillery duel! Exept the heavy horsemen from the charge had formed up just a few feet infront of us and those horses were skittish and downright going-round-in-circles-ish about the big guns. An accident of one sort or another was expected, but not forthcoming.

We advanced over to the left side of the field where the British were coming up. As practiced in drill some of us went forward in skirmish order, and I immediately let loose at a rifles officer. There is a real change in mindset when skirmishing, released from the ranks, an individual aiming at an individual. However I had ballsed up as skirmishers work in pairs and the forward one is meant to wait for the rear one to have loaded up. D'oh!  I knew this from drill just this morning but battle is not a drill and things you should know or have practiced can just slip away under 'presure'. About two minutes later I did it again. Impetuous fool!

We rejoined the main unit and began to fall back, just as we did so I looked down the field and saw a Red lancer charge up to a British square and make a deftly lunge that struck a redcoat in the stomach, pitching him forward as she raced away.. it was one of those moments that sticks in your mind.

Soon we all climbed into an almost waist high ditch between fields and started firing on the advancing foe, another novelty of the battle. When we fell back further still we were charged by the Black Brunswickers, however they had to clear said ditch to attack which somewhat through them into disarray and it was them that got bundled backwards.

However the end was nigh and we mostly went down in a rush of jeering redcoats. Forming up from the dead and wounded the crowds cheered everyone as we marched from the field.

Soon after I went to investiate the traders tents and bought a plate, some flints and a pocket watch (well, a battery powered one for 20 euros but looks good). I should mention I had my new glasses for this event, having had no joy from major chains being able to fit lenses to the olde spectacles I'd got on ebay I went to a small local optician (Rayner and Taylor) and they supplied and fitted prescription lenses for £50.

Another night of socialising around the campfires, after the cold of the night before I nipped into my tent (yes, you read correctly, John lent me a tent) and began to put some extra socks and undergarments on.. when from the heavens a voice called out 'They're giving away free beer at the beer tent!'
Sans one gaiter and holding a shoe I put my head out to ask everyone what was going on, but they had already gone! So I slipped the shoe back on and followed on. Naturally there was a great atmosphere at the beer tent whilst it lasted.  People seemed to have enjoyed the Sunday battle more, I don't know what makes one battle better than another, maybe today went smoother after a 'practice run' or folk got to do something a bit different like jump in and out of ditches or scrabble at Swiss guardsmen on a big wooden platform.. perhaps sometimes things just come together well. Everything about the event was friendly and well organised.

Next morning those who remained straggled together, John and I brought the tents down and packed and went into town in search of breakfast.
I was glad we did, there had not really been time to sample the area and we found an open cafe for coffee and a Croque Boer. Also in there was one of the organisers who showed us that the event was on the front of the local paper and that numbers of participants and spectators had exceeded all original plans. He also told us of a memorial event coming up for a British bomber that crashed in 1944, some of the crew survived and his uncle had hidden one of the airmen in a small house, not far from where we had camped. History is never far away.
Outside a local man came up and shook our hands and thanked us for coming. This was a touching way to end our time in Hoogstraten. I doubt it was a battle I would have got to if not for being a 200th anniversary thing, but who knows, maybe another year..

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