Re-enactors head to the Fens for Battle of Waterloo event

William Rhodes St Mary's the Virgin Church Doddington

A re-enactment group will take part in a Battle of Waterloo memorial event at the graveside of William Rhodes at St Mary's the Virgin Church in Doddington. - Credit: March and District Museum

Re-enactors will remember the Battle of Waterloo at the graveside of a Fenland soldier as part of an annual memorial event. 

The 95th Rifles Living History Society will commemorate the 206th anniversary of the event at the headstone of William Rhodes at St Mary’s the Virgin Church in Doddington. 

Mr Rhodes, who was baptised in Doddington in 1783, served in the British Army between 1804 and 1816 culminating in the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815 where he was wounded. 

David Edwards, historian and archivist at March and District Museum, said: “William married Mary Lucas at Doddington in 1816.  

“William was buried at Doddington in 1864 and the inscription on his grave reads: ‘William Rhodes who died triumphantly in God 17th November 1864 in the 84th year of his age.    

‘During his military career of 14 years, he fought valiantly for his country in 45 engagements the last of which was at Waterloo under Wellington’.” 

The memorial event is usually held in Belgium, but this year, a short ceremony will take place due to Covid-19 restrictions.   

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Mr Rhodes served with the 95th Rifles having fought for the British Army in engagements such as the Peninsula Wars. 

His regiment is also screened as part of 1990s television drama series Sharpe starring Sean Bean. 

But seven months after the Battle of Waterloo against Napoleon and his forces, the rifleman was removed from the regiment at the age of 35 due to an injury he sustained to his right arm. 

For most of the battle, Mr Rhodes was positioned to the left of the Namur Road opposite La Hale Sainte farm. 

But having fell back to the Ohain Road as the farm was taken by the French, it is believed Mr Rhodes sustained his injury in one of these two locations. 

Mr Rhodes won nine clasps to his Military General service medal during his military career, after the medal was created in 1848 for soldiers involved in battles between 1793 and 1814. 

Mr Edwards said he has made contact with Mr Rhodes’ great-great-great grandson and hopes he can attend the event. 

The ceremony, which may include four to five members of the re-enactment group, will take place on Friday, June 18 at 6pm.