The Syria–Lebanon campaign known as Operation Exporter, was the British invasion of Vichy French Syria and Lebanon from June–July 1941, during the Second World War. The French had ceded autonomy to Syria in September 1936, with the right to maintain armed forces and two airfields in the territory. On 1 April 1941, the 1941 Iraqi coup d'état had taken place and Iraq had come under the control of Iraqi nationalists led by Rashid Ali, who appealed for German support; the Anglo-Iraqi War led to the overthrow of the Ali regime and the installation of a British puppet government. The British invaded Syria and Lebanon in June, to prevent Nazi Germany from using the Vichy French-controlled Syrian Republic and French Lebanon as bases for attacks on the Kingdom of Egypt, during an invasion scare in the aftermath of the German victories in the Battle of Greece and the Battle of Crete. In the Western Desert Campaign in North Africa, the British were preparing Operation Battleaxe to relieve the Siege of Tobruk and were fighting the East African Campaign in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The Vichy French made a vigorous defence of Syria. At one minute past midnight on 12 July, a ceasefire ended the campaign; the Armistice of Saint Jean d'Acre was signed on 14 July at the Sidney Smith Barracks on the outskirts of the city. Time magazine referred to the fighting as a "mixed show" while it was taking place and the campaign remains little known in the countries that took part. There is evidence that the British censored reportage of the fighting because politicians believed that hostilities against French forces could have a negative effect on public opinion in English-speaking countries. In May 1941, Admiral François Darlan on behalf of Vichy France signed the Paris Protocols, an agreement with the Germans; the protocols granted Germany access to military facilities in Vichy-controlled Syria. The protocols remained unratified, but Charles Huntziger, the Vichy Minister of War, sent orders to Henri Dentz, the High Commissioner for the Levant, to allow aircraft of the German Luftwaffe and Italian Regia Aeronautica to refuel in Syria.
Marked as Iraqi aircraft, Axis aircraft under Fliegerführer Irak landed in Syria, en route to the Kingdom of Iraq during the Anglo-Iraqi War. The Germans requested permission from the Vichy authorities to use Syrian railways to send armaments to Iraqi nationalists in Mosul. General Archibald Percival Wavell, the Commander-in-Chief of Middle East Command, was reluctant to intervene in Syria, despite government prodding, because of the situation in the Western Desert, the imminent German attack on Crete and doubts about Free French pretensions. Dentz was Commander in Chief of the Armée du Levant, which had regular metropolitan colonial troops and troupes spéciales. There were seven infantry battalions of regular French troops at his disposal, which included the 6th Foreign Infantry Regiment of the French Foreign Legion, the 24th Colonial Infantry Regiment and eleven infantry battalions of "special troops", including at least 5,000 cavalry in horsed and motorized units, two artillery groups and supporting units.
The Vichy garrison numbered 35,000 troops, comprising 35,000 regulars including 8,000 French and 25,000 Syrian and Lebanese infantry. The French had 90 tanks, the Armée de l'Air de Vichy had 90 aircraft and the Marine Nationale had two destroyers, Guépard and Valmy, three submarines. On 14 May 1941, a British Bristol Blenheim bomber crew, flying a reconnaissance mission over Palmyra in central Syria, spotted a Junkers Ju 90 transport taking off, with more German and Italian aircraft seen that day. Attacks against German and Italian aircraft staging through Syria continued and the British claimed six Axis aircraft destroyed by 8 June. Vichy French forces claimed to have shot down a Blenheim on 28 May and to have forced down another on 2 June; the RAF shot down a Vichy Martin 167F bomber over the British Mandate of Palestine on 6 June. While German interest in the French mandates of Syria and Lebanon was limited, Adolf Hitler permitted reinforcement of the French troops, by allowing French aircraft en route from Algeria to Syria to fly over Axis-controlled territory and refuel at the German-controlled Eleusina air base in Greece.
The activity of German aircraft based in Greece and the Dodecanese Islands was interpreted by the British as support for Vichy troops, but although Dentz considered accepting German assistance, he rejected the offer on 13 June. The British-led invasion of Syria and Lebanon aimed at preventing Nazi Germany from using the Vichy French-controlled Syrian Republic and French Lebanon for attacks on Egypt as the British fought the Western Desert Campaign against Axis forces in North Africa; the concerns were that attacks by Nazi Germany from Syria and Lebanon could eventuate if the Nazis had access to the airfields there and if German troops fighting at the time on the Eastern Front could link up with Vichy forces, in the event of Nazi success against Russia, by advancing south through the Caucasus. Both of these contingencies would have exposed Allied forces in Egypt from the north at a time when all available resources needed to focus on halting the Nazi advances from the west. Although the French had ceded autonomy to Syria in September 1936, they had retained treaty rights to maintain armed forces and two ai
Battle of Messines (1914)
The Battle of Messines was fought in October 1914 between the armies of the German and British empires, as part of the Race to the Sea, between the river Douve and the Comines–Ypres canal. From 17 September – 17 October the belligerents had made reciprocal attempts to turn the northern flank of their opponent. Joseph Joffre, the head of Grand Quartier Général ordered the French Second Army to move to the north of the 6th Army, by transferring by rail from eastern France from 2–9 September. Erich von Falkenhayn, Chief of Oberste Heeresleitung ordered the German 6th Army to move from the German-French border to the northern flank on 17 September. By the next day French attacks north of the Aisne, led to Falkenhayn ordering the 6th Army to repulse French forces to secure the flank. On 24 September, the French advance met a German attack rather than an open flank and by 29 September, having been reinforced to eight corps, the Second Army was still being opposed by German forces near Lille, rather than advancing around an open German northern flank.
The 6th Army had found that on arrival in the north, it was forced to oppose the French, rather than advance around their northern flank and that the secondary objective of protecting the northern flank of the German armies in France had become the main task. By 6 October the French needed British reinforcements to withstand German attacks around Lille; the British Expeditionary Force had begun to move from the Aisne to Flanders on 5 October and reinforcements from England assembled on the left flank of the Tenth Army, formed from the left flank units of the Second Army on 4 October. The Allies and the Germans, attempted to take more ground after the "open" northern flank had disappeared, the Franco-British attacks towards Lille in October, being followed up by attempts to advance between the BEF and the Belgian army by a new French Eighth Army; the moves of the 7th and the 6th Army from Alsace and Lorraine had been intended to secure German lines of communication through Belgium, where the Belgian army had sortied several times during the period between the Franco-British retreat and the Battle of the Marne.
In August British marines had landed at Dunkirk and in October a new 4th Army was assembled from the III Reserve Corps and the siege artillery used against Antwerp and four of the new reserve corps training in Germany. The North-east of France and the south-west Belgium were known as Flanders. West of a line between Arras and Calais in the north-west, lay chalk downlands, covered with soil sufficient for arable farming. East of the line, the land declines in a series of spurs into the Flanders plain, bounded by canals linking Douai, Béthune, St. Omer and Calais. To the south-east, canals ran between Lens, Lille and Courtrai, the Lys river from Courtrai to Ghent and to the north-west lay the sea; the plain was flat, apart from a line of low hills from Cassel, east to Mont des Cats, Mont Noir, Mont Rouge and Mont Kemmel. From Kemmel, a low ridge lay to the north-east, declining in elevation past Ypres, through Wytschaete and Passchendaele, curving north and north-west to Dixmude, where it merged with the plain.
A coastal strip about 10 miles wide, was fringed by sand dunes. Inland the ground was meadow, cut by canals, drainage ditches and roads built up on causeways; the Lys and upper Scheldt had been canalised and between them the water level underground was close to the surface, rose further in the autumn and filled any dip, the sides of which collapsed. The ground surface turned to a consistency of cream cheese and on the coast troops were confined to roads, except during frosts; the rest of the Flanders Plain was woods and small fields, divided by hedgerows planted with trees and cultivated from small villages and farms. The terrain was difficult for infantry operations because of the lack of observation, impossible for mounted action because of the many obstructions and difficult for artillery because of the limited view. South of La Bassée Canal around Lens and Béthune was a coal-mining district full of slag heaps, pit-heads and miners' houses. North of the canal, the city of Lille and Roubaix formed a manufacturing complex, with outlying industries at Armentières, Comines and Menin, along the Lys river.
With isolated sugar beet and alcohol refineries and a steel works near Aire-sur-la-Lys, the intervening areas were agricultural, with wide roads on shallow foundations and unpaved mud tracks in France, narrow pavé roads along the frontier and in Belgium. In France, the roads were closed by the local authorities during thaws, to preserve the surface and marked by Barrières fermėes signs, which were ignored by British lorry drivers; the difficulty of movement after the end of summer absorbed much of the local labour on road maintenance, leaving field defences to be built by front-line soldiers. The 1st and 2nd Cavalry divisions under General Allenby, covered the assembly of the III Corps at St. Omer and Hazebrouck from 10–12 October, to allow the III Corps to advance eastwards towards Lille; the cavalry was ordered to extend as far north as Ypres. In front of the First Cavalry Corps, was a line of hills from Mont des Cats to Mont Kemmel, about 400 feet above sea level, with spurs running south across the British line of advance, occupied by the German IV Cavalry Corps with three divisions.
On 12 October, the British cavalry advanced and found the Germans dug in on Mont des Cats and at Flêtre, on the road from Cassel to Bailleul. The 3rd Cavalry Brigade attacked Mont des Cats, up slopes covered in hop-fields towards a monastery on the hilltop, with dismounted cavalry attacking from the west and mo
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought between the British Empire and two Boer states, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa. It is known variously as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, or South African War. Initial Boer attacks were successful, although British reinforcements reversed these, the war continued for years with Boer guerrilla warfare, until harsh British counter-measures brought them to terms; the war under-prepared. The Boers were well armed and struck first, besieging Ladysmith and Mahikeng in early 1900, winning important battles at Colenso and Stormberg. Staggered, the British fought back. General Redvers Buller was replaced by Lord Kitchener, they relieved the three besieged cities, invaded the two Boer republics in late 1900. The onward marches of the British Army, well over 400,000 men, were so overwhelming that the Boers did not fight staged battles in defense of their homeland; the British seized control of all of the Orange Free State and Transvaal, as the civilian leadership went into hiding or exile.
In conventional terms, the war was over. The British annexed the two countries in 1900. Back home, Britain's Conservative government wanted to capitalize on this success and use it to maneuver an early general election, dubbed a "khaki election" to give the government another six years of power in London. British military efforts were aided by Cape Colony, the Colony of Natal and some native African allies, further supported by volunteers from the British Empire, including Southern Africa, the Australian colonies, Canada and New Zealand. All other nations were neutral, but public opinion was hostile to the British. Inside the UK and its Empire there was significant opposition to the Second Boer War; the Boers refused to surrender. They reverted to guerrilla warfare under new generals Louis Botha, Jan Smuts, Christiaan de Wet and Koos de la Rey. Two years of surprise attacks and quick escapes followed; as guerrillas without uniforms, the Boer fighters blended into the farmlands, which provided hiding places and horses.
The UK's response to guerilla warfare was to set up complex nets of block houses, strong points, barbed wire fences, partitioning off the entire conquered territory. In addition, civilian farms and live stock were destroyed in the scorched earth strategy. Survivors were forced into concentration camps. Large proportions of these civilians died of hunger and disease the children. British mounted infantry units systematically tracked down the mobile Boer guerrilla units; the battles at this stage were small operations. Few died during combat, though many of disease; the war ended in surrender and British terms with the Treaty of Vereeniging in May 1902. Both former republics were incorporated into the Union of South Africa in 1910, as part of the British Empire; the conflict is referred to as the Boer War, since the First Boer War was a much smaller conflict. "Boer" is the common term for Afrikaans-speaking white South Africans descended from the Dutch East India Company's original settlers at the Cape of Good Hope.
It is known as the Anglo-Boer War among some South Africans. In Afrikaans it may be called the Anglo-Boereoorlog, Tweede Boereoorlog, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog or Engelse oorlog. In South Africa it is called the South African War; the complex origins of the war resulted from more than a century of conflict between the Boers and Britain, but of particular immediate importance was the question as to who would control and benefit most from the lucrative Witwatersrand gold mines. The first European settlement in South Africa was founded at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652, thereafter administered as part of the Dutch Cape Colony; the Cape was governed by the Dutch East India Company until its bankruptcy in the late 1700s, thereafter directly by the Netherlands. The British occupied the Cape three times during the Napoleonic Wars as a result of political turmoil in the Netherlands, the occupation became permanent after British forces defeated the Dutch at the Battle of Blaauwberg in 1806. At the time, the colony was home to about 26,000 colonists settled under Dutch rule.
A relative majority still represented old Dutch families brought to the Cape during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Cleavages were likelier to occur along socio-economic rather than ethnic lines and broadly speaking the colonists included a number of distinct subgroups, namely the Boers; the Boers were itinerant farmers who lived on the colony's frontiers, seeking better pastures for their livestock. Many Boers who were dissatisfied with aspects of British administration, in particular with Britain's abolition of slavery on 1 December 1834, elected to migrate away from British rule in what became known as the Great Trek. Around 15,000 trekking Boers followed the eastern coast towards Natal. After Britain annexed Natal in 1843, they journeyed further northwards into South Africa's vast eastern interior. There they established two independent Boer republics: the South African Republic and the Orange Free State. Britain recognised the two Boer republics in 1852 and 1854, but attempted British annexation of the Transvaal in 1877 led to the First Boer War in 1880–81
Nederrijn is the name of the Dutch part of the Rhine from the confluence at the town of Angeren of the cut-off Rhine bend of Oude Rijn and the Pannerdens Kanaal. The city of Arnhem lies on the right bank of the Nederrijn, just past the point where the IJssel branches off; the Nederrijn flows on from where it continues as the Lek. The once-important but now small Kromme Rijn branch carries the name "Rhine" towards the city of Utrecht. In order to regulate the distribution of drainage between the different branches of the Rhine, several dams have been constructed. If the dams are closed, there is little flow in the Nederrijn and most of the water is drained by the IJssel. Bridges over the Nederrijn are in Heteren and Rhenen. Ferries are found near Doorwerth, Opheusden and Amerongen. In 1530, the Rhine near Arnhem was moved, a project, completed in 1536; the city, which originated along the St. Jansbeek, could develop better now that it was closer the river, was more defended against Habsburg expansionism into Guelders.
Lower Rhine Rhine delta
Western Front (World War I)
The Western Front was the main theatre of war during the First World War. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by invading Luxembourg and Belgium gaining military control of important industrial regions in France; the tide of the advance was turned with the Battle of the Marne. Following the Race to the Sea, both sides dug in along a meandering line of fortified trenches, stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France, which changed little except during early 1917 and in 1918. Between 1915 and 1917 there were several offensives along this front; the attacks employed massive artillery massed infantry advances. Entrenchments, machine gun emplacements, barbed wire and artillery inflicted severe casualties during attacks and counter-attacks and no significant advances were made. Among the most costly of these offensives were the Battle of Verdun, in 1916, with a combined 700,000 casualties, the Battle of the Somme in 1916, with more than a million casualties, the Battle of Passchendaele, in 1917, with 487,000 casualties.
To break the deadlock of trench warfare on the Western Front, both sides tried new military technology, including poison gas and tanks. The adoption of better tactics and the cumulative weakening of the armies in the west led to the return of mobility in 1918; the German Spring Offensive of 1918 was made possible by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that ended the war of the Central Powers against Russia and Romania on the Eastern Front. Using short, intense "hurricane" bombardments and infiltration tactics, the German armies moved nearly 100 kilometres to the west, the deepest advance by either side since 1914, but the result was indecisive; the inexorable advance of the Allied armies during the second half of 1918 caused a sudden collapse of the German armies and persuaded the German commanders that defeat was inevitable. The German government surrendered in the Armistice of 11 November 1918, the terms of peace were settled by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. At the outbreak of the First World War, the German Army, with seven field armies in the west and one in the east, executed a modified version of the Schlieffen Plan, moving through neutral Belgium to attack France, turning southwards to encircle the French Army and trap it on the German border.
The Western Front was the place where the most powerful military forces in Europe, the German and French armies and where the war was decided. Belgian neutrality had been guaranteed by Britain under the Treaty of London, 1839. Armies under German generals Alexander von Kluck and Karl von Bülow attacked Belgium on 4 August 1914. Luxembourg had been occupied without opposition on 2 August; the first battle in Belgium was the Siege of Liège. Liège was well surprised the German Army under Bülow with its level of resistance. German heavy artillery was able to demolish the main forts within a few days. Following the fall of Liège, most of the Belgian field army retreated to Antwerp, leaving the garrison of Namur isolated, with the Belgian capital, falling to the Germans on 20 August. Although the German army bypassed Antwerp, it remained a threat to their flank. Another siege followed at Namur; the French deployed five armies on the frontier. The French Plan XVII was intended to bring about the capture of Alsace-Lorraine.
On 7 August, the VII Corps attacked Alsace to capture Colmar. The main offensive was launched on 14 August with the First and Second Armies attacking toward Sarrebourg-Morhange in Lorraine. In keeping with the Schlieffen Plan, the Germans withdrew while inflicting severe losses upon the French; the French Third and Fourth Armies advanced toward the Saar River and attempted to capture Saarburg, attacking Briey and Neufchateau but were repulsed. The French VII Corps captured Mulhouse after a brief engagement on 7 August but German reserve forces engaged them in the Battle of Mulhouse and forced a French retreat; the German Army swept through Belgium, razing villages. The application of "collective responsibility" against a civilian population further galvanised the allies. Newspapers condemned the German invasion, violence against civilians and destruction of property, which became known as the "Rape of Belgium". After marching through Belgium and the Ardennes, the Germans advanced into northern France in late August, where they met the French Army, under Joseph Joffre, the divisions of the British Expeditionary Force under Field Marshal Sir John French.
A series of engagements known as the Battle of the Frontiers ensued, which included the Battle of Charleroi and the Battle of Mons. In the former battle the French Fifth Army was destroyed by the German 2nd and 3rd Armies and the latter delayed the German advance by a day. A general Allied retreat followed, resulting in more clashes at the Battle of Le Cateau, the Siege of Maubeuge and the Battle of St. Quentin; the German Army came within 70 km of Paris but at the First Battle of the Marne and British troops were able to force a German retreat by exploiting a gap which appeared between the 1st and 2nd Armies, ending the German advance into France. The German Army retreated north of the Aisne River and dug in there, establishing the beginnings of a static western front, to last for the next three years. Following this German retirement, the opposing forces made reciprocal outflanking manoeuvres, known as the Race for the S
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
Battle of Balaclava
The Battle of Balaclava, fought on 25 October 1854 during the Crimean War, was part of Siege of Sevastopol to capture the port and fortress of Sevastopol, Russia's principal naval base on the Black Sea. The engagement followed the earlier Allied victory in September at the Battle of the Alma, where the Russian General Menshikov had positioned his army in an attempt to stop the Allies progressing south towards their strategic goal. Alma was the first major encounter fought in the Crimean Peninsula since the Allied landings at Kalamita Bay on 14 September, was a clear battlefield success; the Russians split their forces. Defending within the allied siege lines was the Navy manning the considerable static defenses of the city and threatening the allies from without was the mobile Army under General Menshikov; the Allies instead prepared for a protracted siege. The British, under the command of Lord Raglan, the French, under Canrobert, positioned their troops to the south of the port on the Chersonese Peninsula: the French Army occupied the bay of Kamiesch on the west coast whilst the British moved to the southern port of Balaclava.
However, this position committed the British to the defence of the right flank of the Allied siege operations, for which Raglan had insufficient troops. Taking advantage of this exposure, the Russian General Liprandi, with some 25,000 men, prepared to attack the defences around Balaclava, hoping to disrupt the supply chain between the British base and their siege lines; the battle began with a Russian artillery and infantry attack on the Ottoman redoubts that formed Balaclava's first line of defence on the Vorontsov Heights. The Ottoman forces resisted the Russian assaults, but lacking support they were forced to retreat; when the redoubts fell, the Russian cavalry moved to engage the second defensive line in the South Valley, held by the Ottoman and the British 93rd Highland Regiment in what came to be known as the "Thin Red Line". This line repulsed the attack. However, a final Allied cavalry charge, stemming from a misinterpreted order from Raglan, led to one of the most famous and ill-fated events in British military history – the Charge of the Light Brigade.
The British and French fleets departed from the Bulgarian port of Varna on 5 September 1854, heading towards Kalamita Bay in the Crimea. By the 14th, the troops began to land. Thirty-three miles to the south of the landing zone, beyond the Bulganak, Alma and Belbek rivers, lay the Russian naval base and fortress of Sevastopol, the key Allied objective in the Crimea. General Menshikov, aware of the Allied presence, prepared his troops on the banks of the River Alma in an effort to halt the Franco-British advance, but on 20 September he was soundly defeated in what was the first major battle in the Crimea. News of Menshikov's defeat was met with disbelief by Tsar Nicholas I in St. Petersburg – it seemed it would only be a matter of time before Sevastopol fell, but Allied hesitation, first from the French commander-in-chief, Saint-Arnaud by Lord Raglan, allowed the dispirited Russians to escape the battlefield in relative order, allowing Menshikov and his army to reach Sevastopol and rebuild their morale.
"It is frightful to think what might have happened," wrote Vice-Admiral Kornilov, "had it not been for this cardinal error of the enemy's."The Allied march south recommenced on the morning of 23 September 1854, but there was as yet no definite plan of action. The original plan had envisaged a move across the River Belbek before attacking the north side of Sevastopol harbour, defended by the Star Fort. John Burgoyne, the British Army's most experienced engineer, advocated an attack on Sevastopol from the south which, from all reports, was still an imperfectly entrenched position; this was a view shared by Saint-Arnaud who, having received his own intelligence of Russian reinforcements, had refused to agree to an attack from the north. Burgoyne's proposed'flank march' required the Allies to go round the city to the east in order to attack the harbour from the south where the defences were weakest. Raglan was inclined arguing that he had always been disposed to such an operation. On 24 September, Menshikov began to move his army out of Sevastopol towards Bakchi Serai and Simferopol, leaving Admirals Kornilov and Nakhimov to organise the 18,000-strong garrison and prepare the port's defences.
By venturing into the interior of the Crimea, Menshikov would not only keep open his communications with Russia, but would be in touch with reinforcements from Odessa or Kertch. Whilst Menshikov moved east, the Anglo-French-Turkish army, with the British in the vanguard, continued its march towards the southern coast of the peninsula; the heat was oppressive, the water sparse, cholera rife, taking a heavy toll on the men including Saint-Arnaud, ill with cancer