The Great Redan at Sebastopol: The Most Victoria Crosses Awarded for a Single Action (Hardcover)
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On 18 June 1855, the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, British assault troops moved out of their trenches before Sebastopol in the Crimea, and attacked the formidable Russian bastion known as the Great Redan. They came under such a murderous fire from the Russian defenders that the attack faltered, and the British were eventually forced to fall back. As they did so, they left over 1,000 comrades dead and dying out in the open and at the mercy of enemy snipers.
The Siege of Sebastopol saw the development of trench warfare for the first time. Using eyewitness accounts and unpublished letters, the author tells the story of how the men coped with the terrible conditions as they prepared for the assault - as well as the events during and after the fighting. Among the anecdotes is an officer who had the ingenious idea of warming up cannon balls in the camp fires and taking them into the tents at night to keep warm; and he went on to live for over a hundred years
Well-known for his depth of research, the author questions a number of points regarding the Great Redan that are commonly believed to be historical fact. Quoting the father of Alexander the Great, it was the Russians who, soon after the assault on the Great Redan, first referred to the British as, 'An army of lions led on by donkeys'. For over 100 years it was stated in many publications that the most Victoria Crosses awarded for a single action was the eleven presented for actions during the defense of Rorke's Drift during the Zulu War in 1879. However, as the author reveals, twenty of the lions who fought at the Great Redan received Britain's highest gallantry award, in whole, or in part, for their actions on 18 June 1855.
The book includes biographical tributes to many of the men who were killed in action, gives details of the places where they are commemorated, and provides biographies with all the up-to-date information concerning the twenty Victoria Cross recipients.