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Ben Townsend

LBE 2015

Links to the 2015 edition now up:

La Charte d’Histoire-Vivante

Campaign of La Boissière-Ecole 1815
(29/30 August 2015)

IT’S BACK ! France’s premium immersion friendly Living-History campaign weekend is now back on the calendar for the pleasure of all those who are interested in a Napoleonic weekend of blood, sweat and tears (of joy) living the dream of a campaign weekend.

LBE? Where’s that?

Location: The village of La BoissièreÉcole is situated 17km west of RAMBOUILLET near Paris, on the edge of a huge forest.

Camp: The Allies will be bivouacking in 2 different locations on Friday and Saturday night, on either side of the forest of Mauzaise. The French, for the first time, will likewise also be bivouacking in 2 different locations. The cavalry, for logistical reasons, will be based at the equestrial center of La Queue Noire (Allies) and La Boissiére-Ecole (French).

Battlefields: In the surrounding countryside and forests, in the village and at the castle of LA

Authenticity: Authentic campaigning and skirmishes (24hr campaign) in accordance with the French Living History Charter (available in French and in English upon request).
Provisional Programme:

Thursday – Arrival of the first participants to the site.

Friday – The rest of the participant arrive and preparations for the event are underway.

Saturday - This is subject to the numbers of participants and, most importantly, the numbers of Allied troops present. Scenario: 1815, after the battle of Waterloo, the French army is in route and the reserves around Paris are organised for the purpose of defending the capital from the Allied advance. The 248th Military Detachment, a composite unit made up of various drafts from different regiments from the different nations of Allied field armies of Waterloo, is instructed to locate, hassle and force the Imperial forces within the La Boissiére-Ecole area to battle.

Sunday - This is subject to the numbers of participants and, most importantly, the numbers of Allied troops present. Scenario: The scenario takes off where each side having won their starting positions the previous day, both forces will deploy so as to face each other in a fixed battle and either destroy or be destroyed.

La Boissiére-Ecole
The village of La Boissiére-Ecole is situated on the edge of the huge forest of Rambouillet, forest (near Paris) that covers two-thirds of the village’s 25km2 administered area. The village is actually a “super-village” formed by the merging of 4 distinct villages: Haute-Boissiére, Basse-Boissiére, La Gâtine and Mauzaize.

La Boissiére-Ecole boasts of a fine château constructed between 1853 and 1857 in the Louis XIII style, by the Baron de La Boissiére and enlarged in 1890.

The Ecole Olympe Hériot was built and 1886 for the purpose of educating the “enfants de troupe” (soldiers’ children) from the ages of 5 to 13 years old.
Event Background

The Living-History Charter

The “La Boissiére-Ecole 1815” campaign event is the brainchild of a group of re-enactors who were fed-up of the bog-standard, scripted, 9am-to-5pm events that were available to them throughout Europe and which they had started out on during their first days in the re-enactment hobby. It became apparent to them all that what they had read in memoirs heard in conferences and seen in documentaries was often very far from what was sold to them on many of these events but recognising to some extent that the rules of society and the modern way of life meant that this was the way it would certainly stay unless they took matters into their own hands and created their own event.

And create their own event is exactly what they went and did!

On the bicentennial of the Emperor Napoleon’s coronation, this group of like-minded people got together around a table in Paris and the “Living History Charter” (Charte d’Histoire-Vivante) was born. This simple document put on paper what their ideas and aspirations within their hobby were and spelt them out into simple rules that took into account national legislation, modern welfare and, most importantly, the thirst to re-create on the field a 18th century time-zone for the space of 48 hours.

It was then decided to organise a calendar which would contain events representing the different types of situations that military men might find themselves in: Within a garrison, in a camp, inside barracks and of course, on campaign. For the latter, it was decided that the village of La Boissiére-Ecole was the ideal location for this sort of event.

Several editions of this event have taken place since then and the participants have always been satisfied with their outing and the numbers of participants has increased with each year. Below you can find some comments left by Mr.Stuart Wardley of the 15th Light Dragoons when he participated in the 2008 edition:

“This event was, as many in the 15th described "awesome" I say this from the
cavalry perspective as in total we spent about 15 hours over the two days doing what can only be described as proper light cavalry stuff and "living that dream". For once the majority
of the "euro nags" we had were good, fit and capable of carrying a fully loaded dragoon patrolling all day, and then still have enough to fight 30 plus French cavalry but at about 4-
1 they had no chance!!. From what I could see of the Rifles and Infantry, they all seemed to be enjoying it and getting into the true spirit of the event.

This event has so much potential to develop into something very different and special that offers much more than just walking onto a square field, having a fight and then walking off again. Even for line infantry it would give them an insight and different perspective not often experienced. Yes there may well be some marching around but not knowing where the enemy is or whether you are going to be ambushed by and enemy force adds that different dimension. I think that it is this type of event that does sort out the "men/women from the
"boys/girls" as it does really test your knowledge and abilities as a reenactor.

So thanks to everyone who took part and made this one of the best, most realistic events I have ever done in 12 years of doing this stuff.”

Practical Information

1) Powder
There is no powder issue for this event. The hosting group “Les Cavaliers de l’Histoire” is able to buy powder on behalf of interested parties for a certain price. Please get in touch with the organisers to discuss your requirements.

2) Food
This is a private event and no food subsidy will be organised. Troops are to organise their own food supply for the weekend (which must be package authentically…NO PLASTIC) and to perhaps use their persuasive powers to scrounge or buy food from the locals. As the troops will mostly be on the march, it is important that each soldier must be able to carry all his provisions on his person so it is recommended that participants review their weekend package accordingly.

Please ensure that there are no modern wrappers, containers, plates, etc, at any time that you are preparing a meal (and that includes breakfast and evening “refreshments”). In fact, it is asked that once the food has left your vehicle, it should be conserved in a period-style package for the remainder of the weekend and it is therefore strongly advised to choose ingredients that can be easily kept. There is a village shop available to buy groceries and bread if needs be and that is also open on Sunday morning.

3) Toilets & Water
Toilets are available at the village’s activities hall, which is behind the Town Hall and the school. Other more rustic areas may also be designated depending on the bivouac area pitched. It is to be noted that only possible bivaouc areas where there may be an available water-point will be considered for the campaign weekend.

4) Straw & Fire-wood
Straw will be provided and firewood will have to be gathered from surrounding hedges and trees.

5) Tentage
Considering the nature of the activities of the weekend, it is insisted upon, both for historical experimentation and convenience, that participants construct campaign shelters and leave their tents at home.

6) Horses
La Boissiére-Ecole’s main commercial activity is equestrian centres, of which there are many in the area. The organisers can book a mount for any cavalryman wishing to hire one for the weekend, in exchange of a fee to be confirmed. At the moment, we have 8 horses available which will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis. Should more horses be required, than another supplier will have to be brought in from further afar.

If you wish to bring your own mount, the organisers can provide a stable, straw, water and food free of charge for the evening. Any questions you may have can be answered upon request by the organisers.

7) 24hr Campaigning
Contrary to traditional events, the campaign weekend does not have a standard “9am-5pm”
programme. It is run as a 24hr campaign weekend, which will start at 06h00 Saturday and end at 13h00 on the Sunday. The reason for the early stop on the Sunday is to allow our British, Belgian, Dutch and German participants to be able to pack up and return home at a reasonable hour after the efforts of the previous day.

Military hours and campaign dispositions will all be taking place between these hours and historical personas must as much as possible remain in place. However, it is to be noted that “modern zones” will be designated away from living-history areas in order to provide participants a moment’s reprise from their representation if they wish.

Smilie_PDT Participation Fee
Since this is a completely private event, and therefore without any financial support from publiv powers or sponsors, it will be asked that each participant pays a participation fee. The amount will be communicated later once all costs have been calculated but should not exceed 20 €.

I Hope to be able to welcome you to the
“La Boissiere-Ecole 1815” campaign edition in 2015!


40, rue de l’Est
68000 COLMAR

Email :
Ben Townsend

For those who haven't had the joy of going to LBE before, now is your chance. Previous editions have been among the most enjoyable events I have ever attended. The organisers state their ambition to get as far away from the usual 'battle in a park' events that predominate in the UK, and they have succeeded in style. At the end of the weekend you will be knackered, and battered, as a rifleman you will have covered 20 plus miles a day in your kit and a fair amount of that at the trot. But you will have had an experience closer to period light infantry work than you will ever achieve at home in the UK.

A few years ago, LBE was working hand in hand with Kieran Hazzard of the 2/95th, and his mate Tony Wilkes to make a similar event in the UK. They pulled it off, but the event became diluted with time, and eventually it suffocated completely. With the return of LBE we all have a chance to return to the glory days of 'immersion' rifling!

I'm looking forward to this, I really enjoyed the campaign weekend down in Oxford, even if at the end of it I said I wouldn't want to do another one. The rosy tinted haze of time has made me remember the fun bits and forget the bits which where a pain. Count me in.

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