Nearly every time the 78th Highlanders mustered for parade on the Dutch island of Bommel in 1794 their French opponents would lob a couple of artillery shells across the river at them. Eventually, someone realised that the sails of a nearby windmill would start turning whenever the battalion paraded. The owner of the windmill was tried as a spy and sentenced to death. But the Highlanders’ commander, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Mackenzie, spared his life on the condition that he stopped tipping the French off about parade times.

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