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A Crimean Winter of Discontent (Hardback)

The Crimean War Letters of William John Rous

Military > Pre-WWI > Crimean War

By Ian Fletcher
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 136
Illustrations: 55 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399062138
Published: 7th June 2023


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'As the snow fell on the face it froze, and my hair was matted with ice, and icicles formed on my eyelashes. So intense was the cold that whenever I was compelled in visiting the sentries or otherwise to face the blast, my nose burst out bleeding, which with the exposure exhausted one so much, that it was only the certainty of never rising again that prevented me throwing myself down in the snow.'

This is just one of many lurid passages from the letters of William John Rous, who arrived in the Crimea in December 1854 with his regiment, the 90th (Perthshire) Regiment. Throughout the following months Rous wrote a series of letters describing the ordeal of life in the trenches before Sevastopol in graphic detail. These letters have remained unpublished ever since. Now though Ian Fletcher, one of the leading authorities on the Crimean War, has edited and illustrated Rous’s work for republication.

The letters were written during what was the most controversial period of the Crimean War for the British army, for it was during this period that the shortcomings in the army were cruelly exposed during a bitter winter which saw more British soldiers die of cold, disease and overwork than were killed through enemy action.

Rous’s words bring home the terrible conditions in the trenches, the lack of sleep, the endless overwork, the constant fear and threat of a Russian sortie, not to mention the ever-present dangers posed by the Russian guns inside the city. Rous’s experience sheds new light on one of the most famous but tragic campaigns ever fought by the British army.

It was well presented with excellent sensible illustrations and photos throughout. I do not hesitate to recommend it to anyone...

Read the full review here

ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

About Ian Fletcher

Ian Fletcher is a Fellow of the International Napoleonic Society and a leading authority on the Peninsular War and Wellington’s army. Born in London in 1957, his first book, In Hell Before Daylight, was published in 1984, since when he has written or edited twenty-four others, including Galloping at Everything, The Crimean War: A Clash of Empires, and Wellington’s Regiments. He worked on the BBC’s Decisive Weapons series, the History Channel’s Line of Fire and Sharpe's War series and Channel 4's series Revolutionary Armies. He has also appeared on Russian and Ukrainian television as part of an award-winning 4-part documentary series on the Crimean War.

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