By Peter Ferrary
Earlier this year Mike Meredith and I visited Almansa * in South East Spain, at the invitation of the town, to participate in its 315th anniversary celebrations of the battle. Our aim was to explain our Regiment’s participation in the battle and our continuing commemoration of an event which most Spaniards, until very recently, had long forgotten.
These celebrations in Almansa are a relatively recent innovation, instigated and driven forward, in particular for the 300th anniversary, by a keen local historian, one Herminio Gomez, who has been tireless in promoting this long forgotten battle among historians, academics, his local townspeople and, importantly, the municipality. The battle had wide ranging geopolitical consequences in so far Spain was concerned. Herminio has succeeded in having a small local museum established dedicated to the battle and in organising guided battlefield tours, annual re-enactments of the battle, as well as a seminar over the course of a long weekend close to the 25th April. These re-enactments now attract about 400 appropriately costumed participants from far and wide and the whole event has now become a major regional attraction. As Herminio confesses, what had started as a hobby has now become his full time job and vocation.
The idea for the visit arose as a result of the late Michael Goldschmidt’s initiative in early 2017 to organise a Wessex Vikings Almanza Luncheon. This proved very successful and 16 of us gathered to enjoy the event. Many contacts were re-established and in my case I re-connected with Mike whom I hadn’t seen in some years.