Rare remains of soldier found at Waterloo

Fri Jun 15, 2012 7:56am EDT
 
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By Philip Blenkinsop

WATERLOO, Belgium (Reuters) - The skeleton of a soldier, probably British and with the initials C.B., has surfaced two centuries after he was shot in the chest during the Battle of Waterloo, in a find unrivalled in more than a century.

C.B. might have remained a few hundred meters (yards) behind the British and allied front line beside a field of wheat for centuries more, were it not for plans to build a car park in time for the 200th anniversary of the battle in 2015.

Dominique Bosquet, of the archaeological department of Belgium's Walloon region, watched as a mechanical digger stripped away 120 sections of the future car park last week, shouting for it to stop as it broke into the soldier's skull.

"We realized it was something exceptional," Bosquet said, standing over the site where the remains were found. Behind him loomed the large "Lion's Mound" memorial ordered by Dutch King William I to mark the spot where his son was knocked from his horse and wounded during the battle.

"It's a soldier found probably at the site of his death."

The Battle of Waterloo, fought on June 18, 1815, marked the final defeat of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte to a coalition of forces under Britain's Duke of Wellington and Gebhard von Bluecher's Prussian army.

Napoleon, initially defeated in 1813, had escaped exile on the Mediterranean island of Elba and returned to power for a period now called the Hundred Days.

After Waterloo, he was confined on the Atlantic island of St Helena until his death in 1821.   Continued...

 
A musket ball placed between the ribs of the skeleton of a soldier killed in the Battle of Waterloo, is pictured at the site where the bones were found in Waterloo, in this handout photo taken June 5, 2012. The skeleton of the victim, probably British and with the initials C.B., has finally surfaced two centuries after he was shot in the chest during the battle in a find unrivalled in more than a century. REUTERS/Dominique Bosquet/SPW-DG04/Handout