Appeal to restore ‘neglected’ Waterloo memorial

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A BELGIAN man with family links to the north-east is appealing for support in his mission to clean up a north-east soldier’s memorial at Waterloo.

Peter Kasch, whose wife Florence originally hails from Methlick, told the times that the memorial to Sir Alexander Gordon - the Duke of Wellington’s aide de camp at Waterloo - was sadly neglected and overgrown, while memorials around it were well kept.

Speaking to the Times, Mr Kasch said that it had been a disappointment to discover the state of the memorial, which commemorates one of Wellington’s most trusted lieutenants.

“We recently hosted visitors from Scotland who were staying with myself and my wife, and we took them to see the battlefield, 15 kilometers south of Brussels. The souvenir shop was full of Napoleonic memorabilia, which prompted one of my guests to comment: “I thought we won this war!

“Later, when driving through the battlefield, I passed the memorials to the men who fought there. I discovered that Sir Alexander Gordon’s memorial, erected by his sister, was completely overgrown with raspberry bushes and trees - it evidently hasn’t been maintained for a long time.”

Having had no luck in appeals to the municipality of Waterloo to have improvements made, he is appealing to history-enthusiasts in the north-east to help make the case for a restoration.

“At the site of the battle, the French memorials are beautifully maintained: it is a shame that one of the British army’s finest young officers, and a local man, has his memorial forgotten.”

The Times contacted the Belgian consulate in Penicuik, near Edinburgh, to speak to Consul Yves Lemarchand, who said that he would pass on our request for information about the memorial to the Building Administration, a federal department of the Belgian Ministry of Finance, which is responsible for maintenance of the memorial.

The present Lord Aberdeen told the Times that he had visited the site himself, and had also found it neglected.

“I visited three or four years ago, and was very disappointed by the state of the monument,” he said. “I made enquiries about the possibility of getting together a team of my own staff and making repairs to it, but I was told on no uncertain terms that as it is a listed monument, it wouldn’t be allowed.

“I do know, however, that there are serious moves afoot to refurbish the whole site, including the Gordon Monument, by Waterloo 200, who are organising the celebration of the 200th anniversary. I am confident that progress is being made.”

Alexander Gordon of Haddo was brother of George Gordon of Haddo, who later went on to become earl of Aberdeen and Prime Minister. He was shot from his horse while delivering dispatches during the famous battle, which saw Napoleon finally defeated by the allied armies. Wellington, never noted for his displays of emotion, is reputed to have been severely upset by the loss.