The British Army in 2017 is in unchartered territory. They haven't been at war for three years. After controversial campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan there is political and public opposition to military intervention overseas. The Army's budgets are under pressure and they have the smallest troop numbers since the days of Cromwell. But with the rise of the so-called Islamic State, the threat of a new cold war in Eastern Europe and famine and conflict in Africa, the British Army has to play a new role in a deeply unstable world.
Status: In Development
Runtime: 60 minutes
Army: Behind the New Frontlines - Battle of Waterloo - Netflix
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. A French army under the command of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by two of the armies of the Seventh Coalition: a British-led Allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington, and a Prussian army under the command of Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Prince of Wahlstatt. The battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Upon Napoleon's return to power in March 1815, many states that had opposed him formed the Seventh Coalition, and began to mobilize armies. Wellington and Blücher's armies were cantoned close to the north-eastern border of France. Napoleon chose to attack them separately in the hope of destroying them before they could join in a co-ordinated invasion of France with other members of the coalition. On 16 June Napoleon successfully attacked the bulk of the Prussian army at the Battle of Ligny with his main force, while at the same time a portion of the French army attacked an Allied army at the Battle of Quatre Bras. Despite holding his ground at Quatre Bras, the defeat of the Prussians forced Wellington to withdraw north to Waterloo on the 17th. Napoleon sent a third of his forces to pursue the Prussians, who had withdrawn parallel to Wellington in good order. This resulted in the separate and simultaneous Battle of Wavre with the Prussian rear-guard. Upon learning that the Prussian army was able to support him, Wellington decided to offer battle on the Mont-Saint-Jean escarpment, across the Brussels road. Here he withstood repeated attacks by the French throughout the afternoon of the 18th, aided by the progressively arriving Prussians. In the evening Napoleon committed his last reserves, the French Imperial Guard, to a desperate final attack, which was narrowly beaten back. With the Prussians breaking through on the French right flank, Wellington's Anglo-allied army counter-attacked in the centre, and the French army was routed. Waterloo was the decisive engagement of the Waterloo Campaign and Napoleon's last. According to Wellington, the battle was “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life”. Napoleon abdicated four days later, and on 7 July coalition forces entered Paris. The defeat at Waterloo ended Napoleon's rule as Emperor of the French, and marked the end of his Hundred Days return from exile. This ended the First French Empire, and set a chronological milestone between serial European wars and decades of relative peace. The battlefield is located in the municipalities of Braine-l'Alleud and Lasne, about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) south of Brussels, and about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the town of Waterloo. The site of the battlefield today is dominated by a large monument, the Lion's Mound. As this mound was constructed from earth taken from the battlefield itself, the contemporary topography of the battlefield near the mound has not been preserved.
Army: Behind the New Frontlines - First French infantry attack - Netflix
D'Erlon's men ascended the slope and advanced on the sunken road, Chemin d'Ohain, that ran from behind La Haye Sainte and continued east. It was lined on both sides by thick hedges, with Bylandt's brigade just across the road while the British brigades had been lying down some 100 yards back from the road, Pack's to Bylandt's left and Kempt's to Bylandt's right. Kempt's 1,900 men were engaged by Bourgeois' brigade of 1,900 men of Quiot's division. In the centre, Donzelot's division had pushed back Bylandt's brigade. On the right of the French advance was Marcognet's division led by Grenier's brigade consisting of the 45e Régiment de Ligne and followed by the 25e Régiment de Ligne, somewhat less than 2,000 men, and behind them, Nogue's brigade of the 21e and 45e regiments. Opposing them on the other side of the road was Pack's 9th Brigade consisting of three Scottish regiments: the Royal Scots, the 42nd Black Watch, the 92nd Gordons and the 44th Foot totaling something over 2,000 men. A very even fight between British and French infantry was about to occur. The French advance drove in the British skirmishers and reached the sunken road. As they did so, Pack's men stood up, formed into a four deep line formation for fear of the French cavalry, advanced, and opened fire. However, a firefight had been anticipated and the French infantry had accordingly advanced in more linear formation. Now, fully deployed into line, they returned fire and successfully pressed the British troops; although the attack faltered at the centre, the line in front of d'Erlon's right started to crumble. Picton was killed shortly after ordering the counter-attack and the British and Hanoverian troops also began to give way under the pressure of numbers. Pack's regiments, all four ranks deep, advanced to attack the French in the road but faltered and began to fire on the French instead of charging. The 42nd Black Watch halted at the hedge and the resulting fire-fight drove back the British 92nd Foot while the leading French 45e Ligne burst through the hedge cheering. Along the sunken road, the French were forcing the Allies back, the British line was dispersing, and at two o'clock in the afternoon Napoleon was winning the Battle of Waterloo. Reports from Baron von Muffling, the Prussian liaison officer attached to Wellington's army, relate that: “After 3 o’clock the Duke's situation became critical, unless the succour of the Prussian army arrived soon”.
A little after 13:00, I Corps' attack began in large columns. Bernard Cornwell writes “[column] suggests an elongated formation with its narrow end aimed like a spear at the enemy line, while in truth it was much more like a brick advancing sideways and d'Erlon's assault was made up of four such bricks, each one a division of French infantry”. Each division, with one exception, was drawn up in huge masses, consisting of the eight or nine battalions of which they were formed, deployed, and placed in a column one behind the other, with only five paces interval between the battalions. The one exception was the 1st Division (Commanded by Quiot, the leader of the 1st Brigade). Its two brigades were formed in a similar manner, but side by side instead of behind one another. This was done because, being on the left of the four divisions, it was ordered to send one (Quiot's brigade) against the south and west of La Haye Sainte, while the other (Bourgeois') was to attack the eastern side of the same post. The divisions were to advance in echelon from the left at a distance of 400 paces apart — the 2nd Division (Donzelot's) on the right of Bourgeois' brigade, the 3rd Division (Marcognet's) next, and the 4th Division (Durutte's) on the right.They were led by Ney to the assault, each column having a front of about a hundred and sixty to two hundred files. The leftmost division, advanced on La Haye Sainte. The farmhouse was defended by the King's German Legion. While one French battalion engaged the defenders from the front, the following battalions fanned out to either side and, with the support of several squadrons of cuirassiers, succeeded in isolating the farmhouse. The King's German Legion resolutely defended the farmhouse. Each time the French tried to scale the walls the outnumbered Germans somehow held them off. The Prince of Orange saw that La Haye Sainte had been cut off and tried to reinforce it by sending forward the Hanoverian Lüneberg Battalion in line. Cuirassiers concealed in a fold in the ground caught and destroyed it in minutes and then rode on past La Haye Sainte, almost to the crest of the ridge, where they covered d'Erlon's left flank as his attack developed. At about 13:30, d'Erlon started to advance his three other divisions, some 14,000 men over a front of about 1,000 metres (1,100 yards), against Wellington's left wing. At the point they aimed for they faced 6,000 men: the first line consisted of the Dutch 1st “Brigade van Bylandt” of the 2nd Dutch division, flanked by the British brigades of Kempt and Pack on either side. The second line consisted of British and Hanoverian troops under Sir Thomas Picton, who were lying down in dead ground behind the ridge. All had suffered badly at Quatre Bras. In addition, the Bijlandt brigade had been ordered to deploy its skirmishers in the hollow road and on the forward slope. The rest of the brigade was lying down just behind the road. At the moment these skirmishers were rejoining their parent battalions, the brigade was ordered to its feet and started to return fire. On the left of the brigade, where the 7th Dutch Militia stood, a “few files were shot down and an opening in the line thus occurred”. The battalion had no reserves and was unable to close the gap. D'Erlon's troops pushed through this gap in the line and the remaining battalions in the Bylandt brigade (8th Dutch Militia and Belgian 7th Line Battalion) were forced to retreat to the square of the 5th Dutch Militia, which was in reserve between Picton's troops, about 100 paces to the rear. There they regrouped under the command of Colonel Van Zuylen van Nijevelt. A moment later the Prince of Orange ordered a counterattack, which actually occurred around 10 minutes later. Bylandt was wounded and retired off the field, passing command of the brigade to Lt. Kol. De Jongh.
Army: Behind the New Frontlines - References - Netflix