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The Great Redan at Sebastopol (Hardback)

The Most Victoria Crosses Awarded for a Single Action

Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: 17th-19th Centuries Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: Crimean War Military > Pre-WWI > Crimean War Military > Victoria Crosses

By James W Bancroft
Frontline Books
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 32 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399060523
Published: 13th March 2023



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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 Using eyewitness accounts and unpublished letters, the author tells the story of how the men coped with the terrible conditions as they prepared for the assault – as well as the events during and after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 Defence 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.

Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a section of black/white Plates, two Appendices (Crimean War VCs by Units & Redan 60th Anniversary Commemoration), a six page listing of Bibliography and Research Sources, and a three page Index, "The Great Redan at Sebastopol: The Most Victoria Crosses Awarded for a Single Action" is an impressively informative and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library 19th Century British Military History collections and supplemental curriculum Crimean War studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, military history buffs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Great Redan at Sebastopol" is also available in a digital book format.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

As featured in

The Bookseller, Jan 23

About James W Bancroft

JAMES BANCROFT has produced more than 100 books and articles, the subjects of which reflect his varied interests. He has contributed a number of articles for The New Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and his book Rorke’s Drift: The Zulu War, 1879 has been re-printed seven times. His JWB Historical Library, compiled over four decades, is one of the largest private collections of its kind in the world. When he is not writing, James enjoys singing and playing and listening to music, and being with his growing family.

Perfect Partner

Zulu War VCs Victoria Crosses of the Anglo-Zulu War 1879 (Hardback)

The Anglo-Zulu War lasted only six months in 1879, but in that relatively short time twenty-three men were awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry under most trying and dangerous circumstances. Zulu warriors gave no mercy and expected none in return, yet half of the awards were given to men who went back into the midst of fierce fighting to rescue stranded comrades, well-aware that they risked suffering a particularly brutal death. Two men received posthumous awards for their efforts to save the Queen’s Colour of their regiment after the disastrous engagement against overwhelming numbers of…

By James W Bancroft

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