The Duke of Wellington would not have defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo without the valour and brilliance of his non-English troops. Now, for the first time, their extraordinary stories of heroism and tragedy are told onscreen.

The army that defeated Napoleon at Waterloo is often remembered as an iconic ‘English redcoat’ force. In fact, it was nothing of the kind. Most of the men under the Duke of Wellington’s command weren’t English at all.  Now, using little-known unpublished accounts, we tell the story of the battle from the perspective of these troops – Waterloo’s warriors.

The Duke of Wellington himself was Irish. Born in Dublin, he reached the height of his prestige by defeating Napoleon at Waterloo, a victory that won him lasting fame throughout Europe. And the men under Wellington’s command came from different nations and all sorts of backgrounds. As well as English troops, there were Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Dutch and German soldiers.

Irish officers and men served in almost every regiment of the British Army. A quarter of Waterloo officers, and many crack regiments were Scottish.  Kilted, and played into action by the pipes, they were the most distinctive regiments to friend and foe alike.  An Irish corporal and Scottish officer were the heroes of the siege of Hougoumont. In the heavy cavalry charge and the capture of the French Eagle, Scots were in the thick of it. 

Soldiers’ wives and families sometimes came with them on their campaigns – women like Scot Jenny Griffiths – the only woman to leave an eye-witness account of the battle – and Irishwoman Elizabeth McMullen who heroically rescued her injured husband at the end of the Battle of Waterloo.

Waterloo’s Warriors tells the heroic, tragic and incredible stories of these men and women. Their extraordinary first-hand accounts provide an immersive front row seat at the action for a modern audience. These stories are set against the enthralling backdrop of the last major formal pitched battle in history. With 200,000 men fighting over a couple of square miles of ground, it was an amazing, gory spectacle. The noise, smells and sights of the battle were unforgettable: armies squaring up, colourful uniforms, steel breastplates and helmets, horses and guns, the drums and bands of a hundred battalions, cavalry charges, infantry in squares, massed artillery, last ditch defences and the final doomed advance of the Imperial Guard. Through gritty and realistic dramatic re-enactments and an effective use of CGI, we recreate the key moments of the battle and deliver a breathtaking visual experience for the viewer.

The actual words of those who fought are at the heart of our story. These soldiers’ stories unfold over the course of the extraordinary day of 18th June 1815, showing how Wellington nearly lost, and Napoleon nearly won, the colossal struggle that was Waterloo. There were some 50,000 casualties at the battle.  One soldier said, “I had never yet heard of a battle in which everybody was killed, but this seemed likely to be an exception…”

This narration-led series features contributions from leading historians including Professor Saul David of Buckingham University, Stuart Allan of the National Museum of Scotland, Dr Conor Mulvagh of University College Dublin and Dr Gavin Hughes of Trinity College Dublin.



2 x one hour


BBC Scotland, TG4 Ireland





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