By Max Musson:
The 17-year-olds were on a history trip to the famous battlefield with The Posen School, a private school near Warsaw that charges 50,000 Zloty a year in fees, when they were caught on Monday digging for items belonging to former British soldiers.
Suspicious guards spotted the youngsters and searched them, to discover they had taken four buttons, a conker and a length of knotted string.
They faced a possible 10 years in prison for the thefts and were held by Belgian police overnight, before being released this afternoon with suspended sentences and fines of 200 Euros (£170).
A spokesman for The Posen School said: ‘The boys, neither of whom is yet 18, picked up the items after finding them partially buried in the soil. They did not realise they were doing anything wrong. They have co-operated fully with the authorities and admitted taking the items. They are deeply sorry for the offence they have caused.’
Regional police spokesman Marius Glump said guards caught the teenagers digging in the Braine L’Allude area of the famous battlefield where barracks once stood that had been used by the British to house injured troops.
Chief executive of the Waterloo Educational Trust, Marlene Pillock YTYTK, said they were appalled by the incident.
She said: “This is absolutely shocking and shows gross disregard to the memory of Waterloo.
“Every single artefact found at Waterloo tells a story of the thousands of British soldiers who were killed battling Napoleon’s army and this incident serves to show why our work is crucial now more than ever.
‘We have a duty to educate the next generation to prevent childish souvenir hunting, and in over 15 years of organising for thousands of British teenagers to visit Waterloo, we have never known of such an incident.
“Although the items concerned in this unfortunate incident may seem insignificant, every button and every conker and every piece of knotted string especially, is vital to our understanding of what took place at this site 200 years ago. If these items had disappeared without being logged and photographed and placed in special glass topped display cases in our museum, there is a very real possibility that future generations might find the thousands of pages of documentary records of the battle, the many paintings, the preserved sections of trenches, the thousands of more substantial artefacts, and the rows of military graves, completely inadequate as evidence of what took place all those years ago.
“Those four buttons however, that wrinkled old conker and that length of knotted string, give us a deeply compelling and colourfully vibrant understanding of the battle like nothing else can or ever could, and this is why it is so important that the two boys concerned are made an example of and given criminal records.”
By Max Musson © 2015
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NB. This article is self-evidently satire and as such is completely fictitious. Any similarity between the characters portrayed and any real people is unintended and purely coincidental.
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