Friday, 26 March 2010

The Battle of Casteau and St Denis 14th August 1678

By Ian Woodbridge
Member of the
Guild of Battlefield Guides

The Battle of Casteau and St Denis was a little known action which took place just to the north of Mons in Belgium at the culminating point of the war between the Dutch and French which commenced in 1672. 

Whilst a little known action, it is controversial as the draft Treaty of Nijmegen had been signed on 10 August, 4 days beforehand, which should have brought the 6 year conflict to a close.  There is evidence that both William of Orange commanding the Allied Army and Duke of Luxembourg commanding the French Army went ahead and fought the battle anyway.

Both sides were evenly matched, the French at approximately 40,000 and the Allies consisting of some 50,000 Dutch, Spanish and various German contingents (men from Munster, Brandenburg, Zell and Osnabruck 15,000) and the Anglo-Dutch Brigade commanded by the Duke of Monmouth (Charles II illegitimate son).  The main English Army of 16,000 was not present as it had just disembarked in Holland.  At the time John Churchill was Charles II personal liaison officer to William and so it is possible he was present at the battle.

The battle was also extremely costly in terms of lives for the period with 3000 men killed and 4000 wounded.  The allies on the attacking lost approximately 2000 killed and 2500 wounded and the French lost 940 men killed and 1560 wounded in defending.

The battlefield is largely unspoilt to this day.  The action commenced at the Abbaye of St Denis, the period gates of which are in the photograph below.   It finished with vicious hand to hand fighting at about midnight in the manor house and castle which stood on the site of the current farm built in 1711 (located in Casteau) where 800 Huguenots fighting for the Dutch were put to the sword.  


Thursday, 18 March 2010


By Wybo Boersma
Guiding Member of the
Guild of Battlefield Guides

Badge Number 30

20 March 2010: There is no danger of Q-fever in the Northern parts (Nijmegen, Groesbeek, Arnhem and Oosterbeek) of the Market Garden Battlefield.
By Rob Lemmens
Member of the
Guild of Battlefield Guides

In the south of the Netherlands there's an outbreak of Q-fever. As it transmitted through the air anyone in the area can be infected. It seems to be a very resistant bacteria (a new mutant) that survives in very harsh (heath, sun etc.) circumstances. People can get very sick from this infection and in some cases (1-5%) suffer a life time damage of the heart.

The infected area is more or less the "Market Garden" campaign area.

Riqueval Bridge

By Dermot Gallagher
Member of the
Guild of Battlefield Guides

Photograph taken last weekend of Riqueval Bridge spanning the St. Quentin Canal north of Bellinglise, which was captured intact on the 29th September 1918 by Captain A.H.Charlton and nine of his men from the 1/6th Battalion North Staffordshire Regt.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Sicily - Ponte Primasole Bridge

By Mike Peters
Guiding Member of the
Guild of Battlefield Guides,
Badge Number 19

I visited Ponte Primasole in company with Tim Saunders on Tuesday 9 March 10.  Much to my surprise and Tims the objective of 1 Parachute Brigade during Operation FUSTIAN is no more!  The bridge including its footings has been removed and there is no immediate prospect of it being replaced.  For any members intending to cover the fighting around the bridge or indeed the route of 4th Armoured Brigade up to Catania this presents a small logistic problem.  The opening of the new Autostrada has removed the traffic from the area - it is VERY quiet now however, access is an issue.  The Durham Light Infantry Memorial is still in place in the Nature Reserve car park but is now the only physical link to the action of 1943.  You will have to decide which bank you intend to use for your stand as there will be a significant time penalty in transit if you intend to view the crossing from both the North and South banks.  I would suggest the North bank is the better option - with the DLI memorial at hand.

The photographs show how bare the river bank is on both sides without the bridge that replaced the origional.