Letter: Two generations to the Napoleonic wars

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Sir: The Rev Christopher Martin asked ("Spanning the centuries", 18 May) if anyone could cap his story of a link to the Battle of Trafalgar. I'll try at least to match it.

As a boy, I remember a near neighbour, an elderly professor, who when a boy himself had met an old man who in his youth had watched the great sea battle from Cape Trafalgar.

And last year Nicholas Volkov-Mouromtsoff died in Maidstone, aged 92. He remembered the old water-carrier on the family estate, Khmelita, west of Moscow, who died aged 112 and clearly recalled as a 13-year-old boy the overnight encampment of hussar and lancer regiments of Napoleon's Grande Armee and the stay at Khmelita of Murat, Marshal of France, and his officers.

During the later retreat one of the French wounded settled at Khmelita and became footman in the house. A mere two-generation span to the Napoleonic wars!

JOHN MASSEY STEWART

London N6

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