My, my, at Waterloo Napoleon did surrender.
Or, perhaps not. At least according to the French. Napoleon won a moral victory at Waterloo.
French Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's wrote a book Les Cent Jours, about the battle. In it, de Villepin writes glowingly of Napoleon and explains his unexpected loss to the British at Waterloo with the words, "This defeat shines with an aura worthy of victory. The final symphony of the greatest military composer ever, it only just failed to turn to France's advantage."
Which must rank up there with Hirohito's "The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage."
Other famous French military victories might include those moral victories of Crecy. Agincourt. Trafalgar. Sedan 1870 and again 1940. And those are just the ones Britain was involved with.
Dien Bien Phu is another howler. Though in fairness the French have won the Eurovision song contest five times.
"C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre."
Which was said about the heroic, futile and costly Charge of the Light brigade which our French Allies wisely sat out.
The Belgians have minted special commemorative €2 coins decorated with images of the battle that really annoyed the French.. They grumbled about lacking the spirit of EU unity and going against monetary policy or some nonsense and tried to stop the coin. The Belgians have made a 2 and 10 euro coin. But to stop the French sulk have restricted them to Belgium only. Allowing only Belgians to get their hands on these undoubted collectors items
There is a counter factual piece that has been doing the rounds for a few months. It claims that a Napoleon win at Waterloo would have seen Europe speaking French. A united states of Europe, The French conquest of China. No European world wars and a host of other fanciful and unlikely events that would never have happened.
The fact is that although Waterloo was 'A damn close run thing' and one of the most decisive battles in history, it actually mattered little to the bigger picture. Napoleon was going to be defeated anyway. It would have just taken a little longer. The Austrians and the Russians were already marching. The losses at Waterloo would never be made good. Napoleon lost around a third of his army. He would have been defeated in a few weeks or months time.
But, Napoleon and his army were defeated by the tenacious defence of the Duke of Wellington and attacks of Marshall Blucher. Roundly and soundly defeated.
Wellington's Line formations had too much firepower for the French massed Columns. And all the Gallic whinging about the soggy ground, the unexpected arrival of the Prussians and Bonaparte's piles won't change that fact.
The failures at Waterloo were Napoleon's. He knew the terrain would be boggy. He gave no orders. Wellington knew the Prussians were coming or he would not have chosen to stand. If the illness was too great to bear he had some of the best subordinates of the age in his army.
His enemies made sounder dispositions, made far fewer mistakes and took their chances as they came.
That's how battles are won.
Just ask Lynton Crosby.
William 'Wellesley' Quango MP
Chairman of the Conservative 1815 Committee