Every year not only the number of visitors of the Battle for Grolle increases, but also the number of re-enactors. During the event of 2017, on 20, 21 and 22 October, the Battle for Grolle welcomes over 1500 17th century soldiers from all over the world. Every year, new foreign groups apply. In 2015 a handful of Americans joined us in battle. And this year an Australian group called “the Night Watch’ will join us too.
The “Night Watch”, named after the famous painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, is a group originated from Sydney, portraying a military unit from the beginning of the 17th century. By not just doing military drills, but also every-day activities such as cooking, making music and crafts, they aim to re-enact this period as accurate as possible.
But how does an Australian group get the idea to re-enact a Dutch military unit? Mark Koens, commander of the Night Watch, explains: “Our group exists of members who have been re-enactors for years, with an interest in the Thirty- and Eighty-years wars. Apart from the fact that some of our members are of Dutch descent and have friends in the Netherlands, the Netherlands also have a special history with Australia. Dutch explorers explored large parts of the Australian West-coast at the beginning of the 17th century. Past October it was 400 years ago that the first Dutch sea scout, Dirk Hartog, arrived in Cape Inscription, West Australia.”
Although members of the Night Watch have attended historical events in Europe before, this will be their first 17th century event of this magnitude. What they expect of the Battle for Grolle? Koens: “This is for us the opportunity to immerse in 17th century life, learn more about the past and catch up with friends. For me, it is also offers the opportunity to take part in a large-scale battle scenario, something we do not have in Australia. This creates an inevitable historical feel to the bivouac.”
“There are some excellent groups and individuals in the Netherlands that make visiting always worthwhile and it has been their continued support which encourages us to return. I enjoy the high standards, community effort and attention to detail at Grolle which inspires us to travel to this event.”