Amongst the riders I see the blue and yellow uniforms of the Kings German Legion - very true to the books! And I can't help thinking of the Richard Sharpe of the books again, when standing very near the horses - big creatures, to be sure
.They look down at you, open their mouths with the big teeth and snore at you. I don't want to sit on one of them, no thank you! I understand in this moment quite well why Sharpe, grown up where you wouldn't think of riding horses (perhaps eat them - but riding?) doesn't like to ride and avoids that when he can.
It is impressive, when the cavalry finally meet with us after two or three hours. They had to follow other routes, since we walked on small footpaths.
Apropos eating - with great foresight Anne has prepared packed lunches for us, so we don't have to shoot our rabbit on the way. A big advantage, I feel, because knowledge about loading, aiming and shooting is very theoretical with us three.
And also apart from that, we don't have rifles.
|That food can also be used in an inventive way against the "enemy" comes out when I chat with an (English) vivandière: Put apples in a basket, offer it to a French officer, when he bends over the basket - zack! A hit on the head. Giggling we look in the direction of the small French attachment that have joined us. Over the time of the march jokes start to go around about these English re-enactors who play French soldiers! How can they do that? Well, our fake French friends explain very reasonably, without them, what would the so brave British forces have had to do??|
|Well, very true, when you think of it.|
Also very fitting to have the French with us - soldiers are soldiers, and they have more in common than you would think at first: They share the same experiences and there are tales enough of the small friendly encounters between the battles: The shared bottle of wine during a long night watch, things like that.
And I remember also suddenly, that Bavaria, occupied during the Napoleonic reign, had to provide soldiers for "l'Empereur"... I look again at the Men in French uniforms - and blink! - for a second they become Bavarians... And a strange fear grabs for that moment at my heart.
English and French?
or Irish and Bavarian?
On the British side, there were of course the many Irishmen, who joined their forces. Involuntarily I look in the direction of Daragh - "Sgt Harper", who walks with us.
Evi: In fact, Daragh was kind enough to walk with Renate and I for a while, after he had realized that is was indeed the two of us.
Anne: He ... stayed in front the whole of our ten miles, waving a green branch in front of him, almost as if saying “I come in peace in spite of this fearsome group behind me!".
|So, here we all are, such an unlikely mixture of people with very different backgrounds and experiences - come together for a common goal. It cannot have been so very different in the era we do re-live here a little bit - with all live-like consequences that simply come along with a group on the march. We stop at one time after climbing up a pretty steep piece of the path because one of the soldiers needs medical aid from Dan Paylor who, despite his modern clothes, is the "official" medic of the 95th Rifles - carrying all the time a mighty big and mighty heavy looking first aid rucksack!||
"Dr" Dan in action....
The Marching takes it's toll: Rifleman, rightfully exhausted... after three days of marching
Everybody is thankful for a break...
Rifleman, lending his shoulder to a hurt comrade
Also amongst us camp followers the long march asks for its toll:
Anne: ...within a short time poor Evi had taken a stumble and ruined two knees and an ankle and a Japanese lady had walked into a tree branch...
Evi: I felt grumpy about my own stupidity. Despite my bruises I managed to walk the whole distance, and almost as fast as I usually walk on even grounds. And no sore muscles afterwards, only icepacks became my new best friends for a few days. But our paramedic Don himself was the best of his patients – he had hurt his feet badly on the very first day of their march and it got worse over the time. His feet were black and blue and heavily bandaged.
Evis wounded knee...
|But despite these mishaps and a growing tiredness there is a jolly atmosphere throughout the day. I start to feel every muscle in my legs - not used to march so long in my heavy mountain boots, and when we finally reach Caversham, I'm not unhappy.|
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background-photo: Anne K.
all other photos: rg
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by rg/ 21. Oktober 2011