In the lead up to the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, a new war memorial to honour the 24,000 soldiers of the Anglo-Allied and Prussian forces who were injured, died or went missing on that historic day, has been unveiled by the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo station.
The Waterloo Memorial has been co-created by The Samlerhuset Group, London-based artist Jason Brooks and the local Waterloo 200 committee We Are Waterloo. Samlerhuset has funded the installation on behalf of charity Waterloo 200.
The centerpiece of the memorial is a giant replica of the reverse of the Waterloo Campaign medal, depicting Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory. Experts in medals and coins, Samlerhuset cast the medal centerpiece in solid bronze to a diameter of 65 cm. The memorial also features a tribute to the fallen soldiers carved across four inlayed Portland Stone slabs, incorporating the Iron Duke’s famous quotation:
“My heart is broken by the terrible loss I have sustained in my old friends and companions and my poor soldiers. Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.”
Veteran broadcaster and historian Peter Snow gave a talk about the significance of the Battle and the Allied co operation, while Waterloo-descendant Chris Heyland gave a moving tribute to his great-great-grandfather, Major Arthur Heyland, who fell at Waterloo, reading from a letter he wrote to his wife Mary on the eve of the Battle.
The whole event was opened by Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, co-Chairman of Waterloo 200, who also closed the ceremony following the playing of the Last Post by a bugler from the Household Division who also brought along an original bugle that was found on the battlefield at Waterloo in Belgium.
The Duke of Wellington said, “It is an honour to unveil the Waterloo Memorial in tribute to the thousands of men from many nations who fought and died in just a few hours two hundred years ago. It is important that the sacrifice they made, which led to a century of peace across Europe, should never be forgotten.”
James Deeny, Managing Director of Samlerhuset UK, added, “It is only fitting for the Waterloo Campaign Medal to be at the heart of a memorial to the soldiers who fought at the Battle. The medal is an important piece of history in itself as it was the first medal commissioned to be given to all the soldiers present at a battle, irrespective of their rank. Before this, medals reflected army hierarchy, with gold medals being given to senior generals through to tin medals for privates.”
Tim Shoveller, Chief Executive of the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, said, “We are both honoured and privileged to have played our part in the creation of a memorial at London Waterloo station. It is a fitting place for this stunning tribute to the men who died at the Battle of Waterloo; it will be seen by the millions who frequent the UK’s busiest railway station for years to come.”
The stone carving and installation of the plaque was carried out by South East London stonemason Perry Scott.