Veni, Vidi, Vici.
The Battle of Charleroi 10/02/2018
Author Robert Coupland
Black star 12 v. 20 Stockwood touring u16’s
Saturday 10th of February the day had started early for all the recruits who had been up since before 4a.m. On a frosty bitterly cold winter’s morning, they had travelled on land and over sea (by ferry) and then again by land enduring harsh conditions made even worst by the ill equipped transport provided to finally reach Belgium. A country steeped in combat history, having staged numerous famous battles such as Waterloo, the Somme, Liege, Mons and the Ypres to name just a few which had all proceeded before today’s battle in the near locality of Charleroi.
After nearly 12 hours travelling the tired and hungry young troops arrived at Charleroi – the battlefield was not a pretty sight the ground was covered in snow with large puddles and icy patches. It was apparent if this battle was to be won it would not be in the war rooms looking through the battle plans spread out on the changing room floor. This battle was going to be won or lost on the battlefield. The brave boys took up their positions looking splendid in their new battle dress, the Generals on the sidelines ordering their men forward and just like the brave men a hundred years ago who graced these very battlefields here in Belgium they took up position waited for the whistle and came out the trenches with all guns blazing.
Initially both sides were tentative, getting to know the terrain and their adversaries. The Belgians showed their intent early on, they were going to batter their way through the Stockwood lines using their heavy artillery and they did have some impressive big guns. At times the pounding was intense but the first breach was made by Stockwood, the fiery red haired beast aka. ‘Ursula’ Sweeney scoring but this was not the only breach of the Star lines for our Generals were smarter than the Belgiums had given them credit for. They deployed a fabulously executed pincer movement with the piste de resistance been instead of the usual attack on the Flemish flanks they did it with a number of prolonged attacks culminating in our ‘Racing Romanian’ Alin racing over to inflict further damage following a second breach to the Black Stars lines. This was shortly followed by a further successful break in the Belgian defence. This time on the opposite flank by one of our two Lithuanian conscripts, not big Arnie who was strategically blocking the Belgian forces moving down the middle but young Paulius ‘the Baltic Bullet’. This was the third incursion the Park made Behind the Black Star lines how much more could these Belgians troops take? Well as the saying goes never count your chickens before they hatch and one egg cracked right open to breach the Stockwood defence and to further pound the Stockwood position they managed to fire over more amo which was converted into greater damage been inflicted on the travelling troops. This is something that the Park brigade had failed to do although they had infringed the enemy lines on three occasions neither occasion was ever converted into greater damage.
Then the whistle sounded and both sides retreated to the dugouts and gathered their energy replenishing with oranges pillaged from the locals. Before these men of valour could rest the unforgiving, relentless Generals blew their whistles for the troops to engage in battle once more.
The Belgians Buns were not beaten yet, they battered at the Park’s door with everything they could, the away troops now fatigued and bleeding led and inspired by Raf, ‘the Polish Cannonball’ and the red haired McLadley they defended their positions stoically, each engagement more painful than the last but they were never going to be broken. We had seen the blood early on as players ripped their knees and hands on the unforgiving terrain . Our smiling Will ‘Napoleon’ Quibell vehemently directing the troops in front and those behind to rebuke the next insurgence. The Stockwood forces were yelled on by the Generals on the pitchside as well as the war hardened veterans on the side lines at times having to be contained by the Generals who not only got their blood and pound of flesh but now demanded sweat and toil from their war torn troops.
We then witnessed the magic feet of ‘Cutter’ Carter who can inflict injury to any adversary with the sharpness of his moves. The peasants onlooking gasped as he pirouetted through the Black Star troops but unfortunately he suddenly found himself flanked on both sides and with a thunderous attack from the rear he was left out of action. These brave young souls had given their all, however, the Belgians were still pressing hard at the gates but these young men from fields far away were not letting anyone through despite their pain and freezing limbs the Belgians were not going to have Charleroi. In fact one of the troops ‘Smasher’ Smith from the oldest regiment on the field the 121st bricklayers platoon cemented our advantage by ironically knocking down the opposition wall.
There appeared to be an inconsequential attempt to breach the Stockwood line but if I am to report what is written in the history books then this breach was too little too late. It was not to be the metaphorical cherry on the Belgian bun, for the battle came to an end and the Park army had come out victorious they had seen a few men injured on the field and grieved their loss but this battle wasn’t won by any individual heroics or flashy artillery it was down to the blood sweat toil and tears of the galant troops led into battle by the bearded warrior of the 3rd Loft Dragoons, ‘Dan the Destroyer’.
The Veterans and Genarals were all humbled by what they had seen. It was agreed by all that this day should not be forgot and each year on the 10th of February we will sit and remember the few that had given so much for so many and we will eat Belgian chocolate and sing ‘oh when the Park go marching in’ led by another one of our warriors Callum ‘the Caller to Arms’ from the Irish McIntyre battalion.