Remains of British soldier found on battlefield of Waterloo, with the musket ball that killed him still lodged in his ribs

Remains of British soldier found on battlefield of Waterloo, with the musket ball that killed him still lodged in his ribs

The soldier, thought to be British, was 5ft 1in tall and was around 20 years old at the time of his death on 18 June 1815.

Artefacts found with the skeleton include a piece of decorated leather from his uniform, coins, a military issue spoon, and the probable remains of a rifle butt, inscribed with the initials ‘C B’, and it is hoped that the personal possessions will help to identify him.

The remains were unearthed during excavation work for a car park close to the Lion’s Mound monument, a large conical artificial hill built on the site of the Waterloo battlefield to commemorate the location where William II of the Netherlands was knocked from his horse by a musket ball to the shoulder during the battle.  Unfortunately the skull was crushed by a mechanical digger before the remains became visible.

Belgian archaeologist Dominique Bosquet told the Daily Mail:

“The remains were found behind the British lines close to the infirmary, which makes the soldier most likely British.  The position where the skeleton was found would make it very difficult for it to be from a French soldier.  A musket ball was found inside the rib cage.  This was probably the cause of death – a gunshot wound to the chest.  We believe that after he was injured he was carried back from the line and that is where he died.”

Yves Vander Cruysen, director of the not-for-profit organisation ‘Bataille de Waterloo 1815‘, said:

“It is the first time for over a hundred years that a complete corpse of a combatant from the time has been discovered in such a good state.  The body clearly has not been robbed as we found money on him, including a half franc coin from 1811.  There were also other coins which we are having analysed.  He could have been buried by a comrade or simply missed when the bodies were gathered up after the battle for burial.  We hope to find evidence of his regiment from the spoon and the leather epaulets that were found with the corpse. And we know the names of the combatants thanks to military records of the time.  When the soldier’s regiment can be determined we should be able to find his identity.”

‘You can almost see him dying’, the soldier’s skeleton, lying on his back with the musket ball still lodged in his ribs – British soldiers, as portrayed in the film ‘Waterloo’

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