Past Times Into the valley of death O N OCTOBER 25 it will be 165 years since the infamous charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War, yet the stories of individual courage and perseverance in the face of almost certain death, immortalised by Tennyson’s poem, continue to engage us. The 11th (Prince Albert’s Own) Hussars were one of five cavalry regiments that formed the Light Brigade. The men of the 11th Hussars had suffered terribly during the first month of the Crimean War as a result of poor sanitation, disease and a lack of nearly all necessities. On the morning of October 25, 1854, they could only muster 142 men of all ranks out of the 300 who had arrived the previous month. The purpose of the charge had been to re-take the British guns captured from the Redoubts on ABOVE: Trumpet carried by Trumpeter Keates of the 11th Hussars during the charge, on display at HorsePower in Winchester. RIGHT: ‘The Last Call’, courtesy of the Officers’ Mess, The King’s Royal Hussars the heights around Balaclava, which the Russians had started to remove. Undoubtedly due to miscommunication in delivering this message, the Light Brigade were instead sent to charge the main Russian gun position, along a valley that was occupied on both heights by Russian troops. The Light Brigade rode into the ‘Valley of Death’ and immediately came under fire from both sides, as well as from the guns to their front. As the 11th Hussars neared the Russian guns, they encountered a large Russian force of infantry and cavalry and were cut off in the valley. The situation was desperate, but they charged the Russian cavalry and miraculously broke through. Although the Light Brigade had reached the Russian guns and disabled them against all odds, not a man would survive if they remained in the fight. By now it was each man for himself and small groups of men fought their way back through the valley in which they had gallantly charged, many of them now on foot, their horses having been killed. A roll call was taken immediately after the battle, and of the 661 men of the Light Brigade who had taken part in the charge, only 195 men were present, 63 from the 11th Hussars. Gradually more survivors returned, making the final figures; 390 fit for duty, 161 wounded and 110 killed. To find out more about the 11th Hussars and see artefacts from the charge of the Light Brigade, visit HorsePower, The Museum of The King’s Royal Hussars, at Peninsula Barracks, Winchester. Resident 47