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The Charge of the Light Brigade

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The Charge of the Light Brigade

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The Charge of the Light Brigade

On paper, the Charge of the Light Brigade on 25 October 1854 is nothing but a small-scale military cock-up - but the heroism of the men involved and their devotion to duty has given the event legendary status in British military history. It all happened during the Crimean War when an alliance of Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire fought Imperial Russia on the Black Sea’s Crimean peninsula. An order to the British Light Cavalry Brigade to charge the Russians during the Battle of Balaclava was misunderstood and the 673 men rode towards the wrong Russian force – a far larger force than they were and backed by artillery. 118 men were killed, hundreds wounded and many horses lost. News of the disaster hit the British press three weeks later and captured the imagination of the Victorian public. Benjamin Disraeli said in the Commons, it was “a feat of chivalry, fiery with consummate courage”. Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote his famous poem on the battle and it inspired two films – one in 1936 starring Errol Flynn and a second in 1968 starring Sir John Gielgud and Vanessa Redgrave.

Photo: The National Archive


Your comments

Represents the bravery and foolishness of the English people and the incomptence of their leaders

Alexander Charles

This is the earliest example of the power of the press. The attack would have been a tactical success if the second had followed in as it should have. Tennyson's poem was more political than factual
mike jackson

British not English. Just as the successful 'Thin Red Line' earlier the same day at the Crimea, though purely made up of a Scottish regiment, is also a British rather than a Scottish Icon. I'm at a loss to think how this easy distinction does not get through to people.
Derek Sinclair

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I believe rice, peas and jerk chicken is an Icon of England.

Ade Adeluwoye