Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Visiting Celle - Part 1 - Exhibition KGL at Waterloo

Last week we spend a couple of days with my aunt and took the chance for a day trip to Celle. Celle is a town of about 70,000 citizens in Lower Saxony and besides its wonderful castle Celle inhabits the Bomann Museum. Currently there's an exibition about the Hanoverian and KGL troops at Waterloo taking place which caused my interest. Thus we met there with a dear friend of ours. Viktoria, Niclas and me spent a couple of interesting hours between exciting exhibition pieces and countless 28mm miniatures.
Niclas, Viktoria and me in front of the museum.
The exhibition is accomodated in the cellar of the Bomann Museum and admission is really fair with 5 EUR (app. £3.50) for adults for the whole museum. The special exhibition itself covers one large room which is dominated by the huge diorama made of 15,000 28mm miniatures. Alongside there are a lot of glass cabinets with exhibition pieces and a lot of pictures on the walls. All of them precisely described (though in German only) which makes it rather easy to follow the common threat. Here's a small selection of some of the pieces. Unfortunately the glass of the cabints proved really reflective. Maybe because of the soft lighting. Anyway feel free to click the pictures to enlarge them:
Colour Sergeant of the 7th Line Battalion KGL
Altogether they have a wonderful selection of uniforms there. Especially outside the UK it seems rather difficult to get a view of British uniforms but since the KGL used more or less the same dress code the chance in Celle was unique for me. Although there are some excellent books about the KGL and British uniforms of the Napoleonic wars it's priceless to see the pieces in reality.
Sergeant of the grenadier company of the 4th Line Battalion KGL

His shako.

Officer of the Field Battalion Bremen
Besides the uniforms of unknown soldiers they are featuring a couple of real people who fought at Waterloo. One of them is Lieutenant Johann Wilhelm Hurtzig. He served in the Landwehr Bataillon Verden which was part of the 4th Hanoverian Brigade (Colonel Charles Best) in Lieutenant General Sir Lowry Cole's 6th Division.
Lieutenant Hurtzig's coat.

And his shako.
Scabbard of Lieutenant Carl Volger of the Field Battalion Lüneburg

Canteen of the KGL

Drum of the 2nd Line Battalion KGL

Private of the KGL Horse Artillery

Dolman of an officer of the KGL Horse Artillery

Part of a rare contemporary panorama of the battlefield.
Notice of dismissal and pass for a KGL soldier.
Besides that of course the well known Hanoverian commanders which formed course of the battle are presented at Celle. Namely Colonel von Ompteda who commanded the 2nd KGL Brigade and found his death in a brave but unnecessaryly careless charge in line formation.
Colonel Christian von Ompteda.
As well as Lieutenant Colonel (later General) Hugh Halkett who is remembered for capturing General Cambronne at Waterloo. 
Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Halkett getting hold of General Cambronne.
As well as Major Georg Baring who bravely defended La Haye Sainte with his 2nd Light Battalion KGL
A splinter from the gates of La Haye Sainte
Major Baring's General Service Medal.
As well as the most famous Hanoverian hero of the Napoleonic wars: General Charles von Alten. My personal view of his role at Waterloo is rather torn. On the one hand he performed really well holding the ground with his brigade during the heavy French cavalry attacks but on the other hand there's his careless order to von Ompteda to advance in line formation into an area which was known for French cavalry presence during the whole day. Although von Ompteda firmly made reservations von Alten and their corps commander the Prince of Orange stood on their order and sent von Ompteda and most of his men to perdition.
Anyway von Alten proved himself more than once and was without any doubt a very skilled officer and commander. After the battle of Waterloo he took several imprtant positions within the Hanoverian army and later within the Hanoverian government. Thus his impact on the small kingdom was huge and it's more than understandable that he's still object of worship there.
General Chrales von Alten during the Napoleonic Wars

Watercolour of his face

Picture of the battle of Menin (30th April 1794) along with explanations

Charles von Alten's uniform frock coat

Commemorative card for von Alten's 50th service anniversary
But besides those wonderful pieces the exhibition inhabits a diorama of unique size. A group of German wargamers created two scenes of the battle of Waterloo using about 15,000 28mm miniatures. Most of them plastic miniatures by Perry Miniatures and Warlord Games. Frank one of the organisers featured the diorama on his blog (here) but I'll have about two dozens of picture of it as well. But this will be topic for my next post the day after tomorrow probably.

Proceed to part 2 here.


  1. Thanks for that - I'm hoping to make the short trip from HH soon and see the exhibition. Great blog by the way.

    1. Many thanks for your kind feedback about the post and the blog in general.
      From Hamburg Celle isn't too far and I recommend the trip very much.

  2. Great post Monty. I visited the museum many years ago and must admit to being slightly frustrated that all the exhibits had only german descriptions and that no books were available on the exhibits other than a small papeback. However all that aside, the array of KGL and Hanoverian paraphernalia was outstanding. Lovely town as well.

    1. Many thanks Carlo.
      As for Celle I don't know how tourist centred they are. Maybe they don't have that many international visitors at the Bomann Museum. Additionally they seem to be a rather small museum and I presume they are not able to fund multilingual exhibition catalogue or something like this. It's a pity but governmental support for museums decreased during the last couple of years noticeably.

  3. Very cool pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Excellent post Monty, very interesting read!

    1. Many thanks, Paul. Don't miss part 2. :-)

  5. Thanks for sharing Stefan!