The Crimean War
The Crimean War (1853–1856) changed the way that members of the British armed forces experienced conflict. Our records detail many operational aspects of the war, as well as the ways in which soldiers' achievements were celebrated, including the institution of the Victoria Cross.
Map of the Battle of Alma
Catalogue reference: View the record FO 925/3521 in the catalogue
The Battle of the Alma took place on 20th September 1854. After a number of unsuccessful attacks, the British and French eventually were victorious against the defending Russians.
This map depicts the heights, river and bay of Alma, which were surveyed by the officers of HMSV Spitfire. It also shows the positions of troops on both sides.
Plan showing the Charge of the Light Brigade
Catalogue reference: View the record MPN 1/23 in the catalogue
On 25th October 1854, the famous 'Charge of the Light Brigade' occurred during the Battle of Balaklava. It was a disastrous charge by British cavalry against Russian troops, resulted in a resounding defeat.
This map shows the changing positions of the British and Russian troops and artillery, as well as contours and roads, with annotations made later during an 1863 court case.
Royal Warrant instituting the award of the Victoria Cross
Catalogue reference: View the record WO 98/1 in the catalogue
On 29th January 1856, Queen Victoria issued a Royal Warrant creating the Victoria Cross. This is an award given to members of the armed forces for 'most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy'. It is still the highest award of the British honours system.
The warrant itself set out the conditions and requirements for the award and detailed those who were eligible for it. It may be awarded to a person of any rank and, since its inception, has been earned by more than 1,300 people.
Photograph of veterans of the Crimean War
Catalogue reference: View the record COPY 1/434 in the catalogue
This photograph, taken in January 1898, depicts Crimean War veterans who were recipients of the Victoria Cross during that conflict.
Taken at a dedication ceremony at Prior Church, Brecon, you can see the medal pinned to the majority of those in the photograph.