Having seen the discussion engendered by Iain on the Guards at Hougoumont, I was struck particularly by the claim that there was a southerly wind causing the fire to spread at Hougoumont. This surmise made on the back of an off hand comment by Wellington is wrong. The wind throughout the battle was westerly turning to north westerly later in the day. I remembered an excellent article on this which is to be found at https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com wea.246.04.pdf
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I agree that the exact weather at any location is up for debate, but wind directions are pretty certain.
Lol…, I love debates like this ! Not being an Historian like yourself, it forces me to think again and eventually do a U-turn before it’s too late.
In the meantime, something I’ve noticed over the past seven years is the inconsistency of many Historians. (despite 200 years of archive research) Because of it and with my ‘mentor’ having advised me to be careful with Clay’s Narrative, I turn and ask myself a simple question…, who should we believe ? A primary source like Wellington (of all people) or conflicting archive reports. (which even pushed you to write an excellent book separating the ‘fake news’ from the truth)
In addition, and I think everyone will agree, even todays’ Meteorologists equipped with billion£ satellites to ultra-sophisticated computers, they're often at a loss to tell you if you’ll need an umbrella in the afternoon. I have an electronic satellite-controlled clock in front of me providing everything from atomic-timekeeping to cheese-on-toast; however, it’s also indicating clouds and snow, despite the brilliant blue sky over our garden.
Anyway, getting back to primary sources… As a Theorist, I have studied that letter sent to Macdonnell with a lot of interest and I would find it very difficult to have it classified as “a passing comment.” He must have taken a good ten minutes to write it and another ten before that, summing up the situation. Meaning that when he says; “I see the haystack has caught fire to the barn,” it obviously means that the smoke was heading his way and could probably even smell it.
Of course, I understand the importance of that letter and its implications, as it’s only when one researches the parallel consequences that the sentence becomes an eye-opener; over and above the minor detail of the wind direction. As such, if we can’t believe Wellington, who can we believe ?
For the time being, and try as I may, there’s another supporting comment from the ridge that day but I can’t find it. However, there’s another tell-tale theory that’s worth its weight in gold.
Because John Franklin is assisting a New Zealand Director for a new Waterloo film, I found myself obliged to change my screenplay to a traditional book format.
In my screenplay, I had the runup to the start of the battle with Napoleons’ bands bellowing out the marseillaises and other fanfares. Whereas, when the camera turns 180° to the ridge, all that can be heard is the flutter of colours, an occasional wing flap of a pigeon and sergeants ‘bawling’ in whispers. It was Eamonn O’Keeffe who put me right at the time as I originally had both sides battling it out using crochets and quavers.
Anyway, during my time with the Scots Guards, I not only served in Clay’s Light Company (left Flank) but also with the Pipes and Drums. Now, when a Piper is on the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle playing ‘Lights Out’ for the Tattoo, if he has a frontal wind, nobody can hear him. This is why a mate of mine (Gavin Stoddart) installed a microphone, not just for the BBC recordings but also to allow the spectators hear the tune.
Same goes for a battalion on the march…, with the band upfront. A slight wind and the company at the back will find themselves out of step.
Getting back to Waterloo, if the wind was in any direction other than southerly, few people would have been able to hear the music on the ridge…, let alone provide a title for the melodies. And with you knowing more than most, I’m sure you’ll agree that the music was well documented by dozens a mile away on the ridge.
Lol…, despite the ‘programmed’ snow and clouds, I can see my neighbours sunning themselves in their garden.
Kind ReGuards…, Iain.