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Smashed armour worn by a French soldier blasted by a cannonball during the Battle of Waterloo has become an online hit after video of it was mocked for saying its wearer was merely ‘wounded’.  

Social media users poked fun at the idea the young soldier was only ‘wounded’ by the cannonball, comparing Fauveau to Monty Python’s Black Knight with lines from the film that the soldier had only a ‘flesh wound’ and ”tis but a scratch!’

Others likened Fauveau to Captain Scarlet – the invincible 1960s children’s TV hero – while some simply questioned ‘wounded????’. 

The armour, worn by 23-year-old Antoine Fauveau, has a large cannonball entry wound on the soldier’s right chest and an exit wound at the back from a blow that would have killed him immediately.   

The breastplate, now displayed at the Musee de l’Armee in Paris, was likely hit by a 9lb cannon ball probably fired by the Royal Horse Artillery during the Battle of Waterloo, according to history Professor Tony Pollard.

He said the armour, also known as a cuirass, was pulled off Fauveau’s as a prized possession before the conscripted French cavalryman was pitched into a mass, unmarked grave.  

Images of a breastplate worn by a French cavalryman as he was struck and killed by a cannonball durning the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815 has sparked a debate on social media after it was posted with a caption saying he was 'wounded'

Images of a breastplate worn by a French cavalryman as he was struck and killed by a cannonball durning the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815 has sparked a debate on social media after it was posted with a caption saying he was 'wounded'

Images of a breastplate worn by a French cavalryman as he was struck and killed by a cannonball durning the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815 has sparked a debate on social media after it was posted with a caption saying he was ‘wounded’

The armour, which is displayed at the Musee de l'Armee in Paris, has a large canonball entry wound on the soldier's chest and an exit wound at the back

The armour, which is displayed at the Musee de l'Armee in Paris, has a large canonball entry wound on the soldier's chest and an exit wound at the back

The armour, which is displayed at the Musee de l’Armee in Paris, has a large canonball entry wound on the soldier’s chest and an exit wound at the back

Who was the French soldier who wore the breastplate? 

Antoine Fauveau was a 23-year-old conscripted French cavalryman killed during the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815.  

He died after being hit by a 9lb canon ball which smashed through his metal breastplate, killing him immediately. 

The breastplate he was wearing shows a large entry wound on the right chest and an exit wound at the back – and is on display at the Musee de L’Armee in Paris. 

The shot would have destroyed every organ in his body – though his torso was held together by the breastplate.

The young soldier was a new cavalryman conscript to the French army’s 4th company, 2nd Carabinier Regiment who would have had ‘no more than seven days training’ before his death on the battlefield.    

He was a dairyman from France who was due to get married, according to a pay book found in the breastplate after his death. 

In it, he was described as a ‘long, freckled face with a large forehead, blue eyes, hooked nose and a small mouth’.

He was buried in a mass, unmarked grave.  

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Professor of Conflict History and Archaeology at the University of Glasgow Tony Pollard weighed in on the debate, lamenting social media users making light of ‘brave’ Fauveau’s death.

‘It is not a joke or a Monty Python sketch about a scratch. It might not seem so funny if we knew more about the man and his death,’ he wrote.   

He also added context to Fauveau’s death, saying that cannon balls ‘ideally’ hit the floor, bounced and then hit the soldier but the ground at Waterloo was softened by rain meaning he was instead hit ‘direct’. 

He said the shot hit Fauveau’s right breast causing ‘massive trauma’ that ‘destroyed every organ’ and resulted in instant death – but that his torso would have been held together by the armour.   

The young soldier was a new cavalryman conscript to the French army’s 4th company, 2nd Carabinier Regiment who would have had ‘no more than seven days training’ before his death on the battlefield.  

Mr Pollard said the young soldier likely died during a series of cavalry charges, described as ‘more of a slog up a muddy hill than a gallop’ because of the mud, against the Duke of Wellington’s centre and right lines on June 16. 

The 1st and 2nd Carabinier regiments were ordered forward from the east edge of Hougoumont at around 6:30pm and were met by a barrage of ‘muskets and cannon’ in which Favreau was likely killed, he said. 

He added the breastplate was a ‘prized trophy’ that was recovered before Fauveau’s body was buried in a mass, unmarked grave. 

And in a surprising turn of events for the era a pay book found lodged in the breastplate’s padding allowing officials to identify Fauveau. 

The book gave his personal details as ‘long, freckled face with a large forehead, blue eyes, hooked nose & a small mouth’ and revealed he was a dairyman who was due to get married.   

Mr Pollard said the young soldier likely died during a series of cavalry charges, described as 'more of a slog up a muddy hill than a gallop' because of the mud, against the Duke of Wellington's centre and right lines on June 16

Mr Pollard said the young soldier likely died during a series of cavalry charges, described as 'more of a slog up a muddy hill than a gallop' because of the mud, against the Duke of Wellington's centre and right lines on June 16

Mr Pollard said the young soldier likely died during a series of cavalry charges, described as ‘more of a slog up a muddy hill than a gallop’ because of the mud, against the Duke of Wellington’s centre and right lines on June 16

The metal breastplate, worn by 23-year-old Antoine Fauveau, was ruptured by a canonball during fighting in a blow that would have killed him immediately

The metal breastplate, worn by 23-year-old Antoine Fauveau, was ruptured by a canonball during fighting in a blow that would have killed him immediately

 The metal breastplate, worn by 23-year-old Antoine Fauveau, was ruptured by a canonball during fighting in a blow that would have killed him immediately

Source: Daily Mail UK

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