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 Napoleon sent a third of his forces to pursue the Prussians, who had withdrawn parallel to Wellington in good order.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 - Attack of the Imperial Guard - Netflix
... I saw four regiments of the middle guard, conducted by the Emperor, arriving. With these troops, he wished to renew the attack, and penetrate the centre of the enemy. He ordered me to lead them on; generals, officers and soldiers all displayed the greatest intrepidity; but this body of troops was too weak to resist, for a long time, the forces opposed to it by the enemy, and it was soon necessary to renounce the hope which this attack had, for a few moments, inspired.
Napoleon himself oversaw the initial deployment of the Middle and Old Guard. The Middle Guard formed in battalion squares, each about 550 men strong, with the 1st/3rd Grenadiers, led by Generals Friant and Poret de Morvan, on the right along the road, to their left and rear was General Harlet leading the square of the 4th Grenadiers, then the 1st/3rd Chasseurs under General Michel, next the 2nd/3rd Chasseurs and finally the large single square of two battalions of 800 soldiers of the 4th Chasseurs led by General Henrion. Two batteries of Imperial Guard Horse Artillery accompanied them with sections of two guns between the squares. Each square was led by a general and Marshal Ney, mounted on his 5th horse of the day, led the advance. Behind them, in reserve, were the three battalions of the Old Guard, right to left 1st/2nd Grenadiers, 2nd/2nd Chasseurs and 1st/2nd Chasseurs. Napoleon left Ney to conduct the assault, however Ney led the Middle Guard on an oblique towards the Allied centre right instead of attacking straight up the centre. Napoleon sent Ney's senior ADC Colonel Crabbé to order Ney to adjust, but Crabbé was unable to get there in time. Other troops rallied to support the advance of the Guard. On the left infantry from Reille's corps that was not engaged with Hougoumont and cavalry advanced. On the right all the now rallied elements of D'Érlon's corps once again ascended the ridge and engaged the allied line. Of these, Pégot's brigade broke into skirmish order and moved north and west of La Haye Sainte and provided fire support to Ney, once again unhorsed, and Friant's 1st/3rd Grenadiers. The Guards first received fire from some Brunswick battalions, but the return fire of the grenadiers forced them to retire. Next, Colin Halket's brigade front line consisting of the 30th Foot and 73rd traded fire but they were driven back in confusion into the 33rd and 69th regiments, Halket was shot in the face and seriously wounded and the whole brigade retreated in a mob. Other allied troops began to give way as well. A counterattack by the Nassauers and the remains of Kielmansegge's brigade from the allied second line, led by the Prince of Orange, was also thrown back and the Prince of Orange was seriously wounded. General Harlet brought up the 4th Grenadiers and the allied centre was now in serious danger of breaking.
To the left of the 4th Grenadiers were the two squares of the 1st/ and 2nd/3rd Chasseurs who angled further to the west and had suffered more from artillery fire than the grenadiers. But as their advance mounted the ridge they found it apparently abandoned and covered with dead. Suddenly 1,500 British Foot Guards under Maitland who had been lying down to protect themselves from the French artillery rose and devastated them with point-blank volleys. The chasseurs deployed to answer the fire, but some 300 fell from the first volley, including Colonel Mallet and General Michel, and both battalion commanders. A bayonet charge by the Foot Guards then broke the leaderless squares, which fell back onto the following column. The 4th Chasseurs battalion, 800 strong, now came up onto the exposed battalions of British Foot Guards, who lost all cohesion and dashed back up the slope as a disorganized crowd with the chasseurs in pursuit. At the crest the chasseurs came upon the battery that had caused severe casualties on the 1st and 2nd/3rd Chasseurs. They opened fire and swept away the gunners. The left flank of their square now came under fire from a heavy formation of British skirmishers, which the chasseurs drove back. But the skirmishers were replaced by the 52nd Light Infantry, led by John Colborne, which wheeled in line onto the chasseurs' flank and poured a devastating fire into them. The chasseurs returned a very sharp fire which killed or wounded some 150 men of the 52nd. The 52nd then charged, and under this onslaught, the chasseurs broke. The last of the Guard retreated headlong. A ripple of panic passed through the French lines as the astounding news spread: “La Garde recule. Sauve qui peut!” (“The Guard is retreating. Every man for himself!”) Wellington now stood up in Copenhagen's stirrups and waved his hat in the air to signal a general advance. His army rushed forward from the lines and threw themselves upon the retreating French. Chesney 1874, pp. 192, 225 The surviving Imperial Guard rallied on their three reserve battalions (some sources say four) just south of La Haye Sainte for a last stand. A charge from Adam's Brigade and the Hanoverian Landwehr Osnabrück Battalion, plus Vivian's and Vandeleur's relatively fresh cavalry brigades to their right, threw them into confusion. Those left in semi-cohesive units retreated towards La Belle Alliance. It was during this retreat that some of the Guards were invited to surrender, eliciting the famous, if apocryphal, retort “La Garde meurt, elle ne se rend pas!” (“The Guard dies, it does not surrender!”)
It was at this moment that the timely arrival of the Dutch General Chassé turned the tide in favour of the Anglo-allied army.Chassé's relatively fresh Dutch division was sent against them, led by a battery of Dutch horse-artillery commanded by Captain Krahmer de Bichin. The battery opened a destructive fire into the 1st/3rd Grenadiers' flank. This still did not stop the Guard's advance, so Chassé ordered his first brigade (Colonel Hendrik Detmers) to charge the outnumbered French with the bayonet; the French grenadiers then faltered and broke. The 4th Grenadiers, seeing their comrades retreat and having suffered heavy casualties themselves, now wheeled right about and retired.
Army: Behind the New Frontlines - References - Netflix