Walking down the path towards Sneaton church, and ignoring the houses next door and the cars on the street, you’d be forgiven for thinking little much has changed in 200 years.
The meadow sweet is thigh high and the the trees form a green canopy.
Sheep are grazing around the graveyards to keep the grass down and you look out to Whitby with a view undisturbed.
Rev Veronica Carolan guides us to the gravestone of Colonel Samuel Rudyerd who fought and survived in the Battle of Waterloo.
Soon, some of the finest military will hold a simple service around the grave of the Colonel who fought bravely and survived one of history’s most defining battles, Waterloo.
Around the country at the same date and time simple acts of remembrance were held, with the last post played and the memory of the Battle of Waterloo honoured.
Colonel Rudyerd is buried with his mother in Sneaton churchyard.
He had a distinguised and active career, before and after the Battle of Waterloo.
Appointed as second lieutenant in March 1803, he was promoted steadily until reaching Colonel in 1846. He served in bomb vessels off the coast of France in 1804, and the Coast of Ceylon and was present at the capture of Travancore in the East Indies.
Later, he served in the American War of 1812 where he was afloat on a bomb vessel off the coast of New Orleans.
After this war he returned to Europe and was posted to Major Lloyds Brigade where he was present at both the Battle of Quatre Bras and Waterloo as the battery Second Captain.
The most famous battle in history took place on Sunday June 18.
The French Army,under the self-proclaimed French Emperor Napoleon, marching on Brussels was stopped at Waterloo by an army of British Redcoats, Germans and Dutch led by the Duke of Wellington.
Wellington was the finest military commander of his day, the only exception was Napoleon, and this was where they would face each other. Only one man could win.
Colonel Rudyerd would, like all the men fighting, know that Napoleon had to be stopped, and in Belgium.
British and Prussian armies joined together and planned to invade France.
But Napoleon with his trademark bravado took the fight to them and marched his army north from Paris, crossed the border and aimed to capture Brussels.
His strategy was to stop the Prussian and British joining forces.
He failed, but put up an almighty battle.
The Duke of Wellington positioned his army of 67,000 and during the battle against 69,000 troops, he was in he thick of every crisis.
But it was Wellington’s strategy that conquered and with typical English understatement he said it was a “close-run thing.”
Colonel Rudyerd wrote about the battle in a letter from Whitby to Captain William Sitborne, his memories of that day.
This abbreviated extract gives a startlingly clear depiction of how bloody and hard this battle was. It impresses on how ferociously all men on both sides fought, and so tirelessly in extreme conditions.
It is telling how close Colonel Rudyerd was to the Duke of Wellington during the Battle of Waterloo. Testament to a simple fact, you only want the elite with you at the front.
Whitby, January 6 1835
“When at the close the British Infantry advanced in line to the charge, it very much resembled the curvature of the surf upon the shore.
“My horses, ammunition wagons were in rear of our guns undercover of a little hollow between us and our Squares of Infantry.
“As horses were killed or rendered unservicable, the harness was removed and placed on wagons or elsewhere. Every gun, every carriage, spokes carried from wheels, all were struck in many places.
“The Cuirassiers and Cavalry might have charged through the battery as often as six or seven times driving us into the square. When advancing on our fire I have seen four or five men and horses piled upon each other like cards, the men not ever having been displaced from the saddle, the effect of a cannister.
“The Duke and all his staff were frequently in our rear, under the heaviest fire, also the Prince of Orange. I saw the fore-legs taken from the horse of one of his highness’s A.D.C’s at the shoulders.
“My own horse was shot through with a nine pounder shot behind the saddle flap, and did not fall for some time.
“Some of the Cuirassiers were left, every charge among our guns, killed.