The Charge of the Light Brigade

10 Jan, 2008 940 History of Europe

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Charge of the Light - an event of no military significance that has become iconic in the British historical imagination. On November 14th 1854 The Times newspaper reported on a minor cavalry skirmish in the Crimean War: “They swept proudly past, glittering in the morning sun in all the pride and splendour of war… At the distance of 1200 yards the whole line of the enemy belched forth, from thirty iron mouths, a flood of smoke and flame through which hissed the deadly balls. Their flight was marked by instant gaps in our ranks, by dead men and horses, by steeds flying wounded or riderless across the plain”.This is the debacle of the Charge of the Light Brigade, which made little difference to the Crimean War yet has become deeply embedded in British culture. It helped to provoke the resignation of a Prime Minister and it profoundly changed British attitudes to war and to the soldiers who fought in them. It also brought censorship to bear on previously uncensored war reporting and inspired Alfred, Lord Tennyson to sit down and write “All in the Valley of Death rode the six hundred”.

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  • Mike Broers 3 episodes
    Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall
  • Trudi Tate No other episodes
    Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge
  • Saul David 4 episodes
    Visiting Professor of Military History at the University of Hull

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