In the ensuing battle, the front covered
four miles, with French and Turkish troops
attacking the more lightly defended Russian
left flank and British troops attacking the
heavily manned centre and right. The
Russian strongpoint was a battery of
12 guns positioned behind a breastwork
which commanded the ground between
the Russian position and the British attack –
later known as the “Great Redoubt”.
To mark the 150th Anniversary of the
presentation of the first medals in 1856,
the Library and Museum of Freemasonry
is mounting a new exhibition about some
holders of the Victoria Cross who were
The criterion for the award is simple –
conspicuous valour in the presence of the
enemy – but its winners have been drawn
from all sections of the armed forces (and
include some civilians under military
command) and from all walks of life.
In September 1854 an army of British,
French and Turkish troops reached the
valley of the Alma River in southern Russia.
Occupying the rolling hills on the far side
was a large Russian army intent on
preventing them reaching Sevastopol.
© Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Lord Wantage in January 1882
The Light Division, in the face of
tremendous fire, managed to force their
way into the Great Redoubt and caused
the Russian Army to haul all but two of
their guns away. The Division then found
itself facing large numbers of Russian troops.
The Brigade of Guards were to provide
reinforcement, but under an inexperienced
commander, the Duke of Cambridge, were
making slow progress and only the Scots
Fusilier Guards had crossed the river. They
were ordered to advance without waiting
for the Grenadiers and the Coldstreams.
Given misleading information, the Light
Division began running back into the
advancing Fusiliers. The Scots Fusiliers’
colour party, led by Senior Subaltern
Robert Lindsay, aged 22, continued to
advance steadily. He called out for the
retiring troops to rally on the colours.
Under enemy fire, the colour that
Lindsay was carrying was shot through
in a dozen places and, at one stage, the staff
was cut in two and the colour fell on top
of him. He was seen to rise and wave the
flag. His example and courage enabled order
to be restored until the rest of the Brigade
arrived and pushed the Russian troops out
of the Great Redoubt and back up the slope.
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