C-K re-enactors to fight Napoleon

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Mark Dickerson, right, and stepson Charlie Wiebenga are two of four local military re-enactors who will take part with 5,000 others to recreated the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium later this week. It's to commemorate the 200th anniversary of this historic battle.
Mark Dickerson, right, and stepson Charlie Wiebenga are two of four local military re-enactors who will take part with 5,000 others to recreated the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium later this week. It’s to commemorate the 200th anniversary of this historic battle.

A squad of local military re-enactors will step back in time – 200 years – this week, a continent away, to help defeat Napoleon.

Mark Dickerson, Dave Welton, Charlie Wiebenga and Jason Ball will don the uniforms of the First Regiment of Foot of the Royal Scots, who fought at Quatre Bras and Waterloo 200 years ago in what is now Belgium. Back then, the area was part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The event takes place June 19 and 20. The battle occurred June 18, 1815.

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This isn’t the first time local re-enactors travelled abroad, and it’s not the first time locals have “fought” Napoleon. Dickerson said in 1990, the Kent Military Re-enactment Society travelled to Belgium and dressed as the 19th Dutch Militia. All told, 20 local re-enactors took part in the 175th marking of the Battle of Waterloo.

Dickerson was one of the locals involved. He said there were 120,000 spectators on hand to watch the re-enactment, and it was broadcast in five countries.

He can’t wait to go again.

“I had such a great time in 1990 meeting other people and being a part of something so big and exciting, that I wanted to go back. And this time I get to take my family,” Dickerson said.

Welton is his father-in-law, and Wiebenga is his stepson, a young lad who has really embraced military history and re-enacting. All three took part in the Battle of the Thames re-enactment in 2013, and have participated in other historic battle recreations in Ontario and south of the border. That included the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans this past January.

Dickerson can’t wait to see how Wiebenga takes in Waterloo.

“This is going to be a great experience for Charlie to see a re-enactment that has 5,000 participants,” he said. “The Battle of the Thames had about 250 soldiers. The Battle of Waterloo is going to be 20 times bigger.”

Dickerson said the re-enactment is one element of a family vacation.

“This trip and re-enactment will be a cultural and historic experience for them. They will get to see a re-enactment on a scale that just doesn’t happen in North America,” he said. “We are also travelling around Belgium and England so they will get to visit museums, castles, battlefields and sites that are very interesting. I think it is important for kids to experience different cultures and geographical areas.”

Dickerson fell in love with re-enacting past military battles when he took part in the 175th anniversary event marking the Battle of the Thames in 1988.

“I love the friendship and the camaraderie. The people in my hobby are also my friends who all share a love of history as I do. Many of them have their own kids and they all play together as well,” he said. “I also enjoy the camping and getting to stay in historic buildings.”

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