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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Tributes paid in Crimea's Valley of Death
By Helen Fawkes
BBC, Sevastopol, Crimea

Soldiers dressed in traditional Russian uniforms from the era
All the nations involved are remembering soldiers of 1854

Under a grey leaden sky, the so-called Valley of Death is soaked with torrential rain.

This was where so many men were slaughtered during the Crimean War.

Now the land is covered with vineyards.

The victims have been remembered at a ceremony of reconciliation to mark the 150th anniversary.

As many as a million were killed in the bloody conflict which lasted for two years. But many of them died from disease and exposure.

Others were killed as a result of military mistakes. There were heavy losses on both sides.

Vladimir Petrov lost his great grandfather, who was a Russian soldier.

They were dying like flies from cholera and still they had to fight
Brian Buckley,
8 Alma Commando Battery of the Royal Artillery
"I'm proud that one of my relatives gave his life for our country," he says.

"It's very important to remember the bravery of everyone who took part in the Crimean War."

Walking under the Cypress trees, Brian Buckley is re-tracing his regiment's footsteps.

The ex-bombardier has come here to see where his former unit won its battle honours.

Lessons learned

Now known as the 8 Alma Commando Battery of the Royal Artillery, it took part in the battle of Alma, where British troops forced the Russians into a surprise retreat.

British memorial
A new British monument is in the area once used as the Light Brigade's base camp
"Being back here you can imagine how hard the war was for ordinary soldiers," says the 66-year-old from Newcastle under Lyme.

"They were dying like flies from cholera and still they had to fight."

But lessons have been learned from the war.

"We remember the Crimean War today as much for the heroic work of Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole in nursing as for the military exploits," says Britain's Ambassador in Ukraine Robert Brinkley.

Next to the barren muddy fields where many of Britain's war dead are buried, lorries speed along the highway.

As part of the anniversary, a new monument dedicated to the 25,000 British victims of the conflict has just been built.

It was unveiled during a remembrance service - one of five such ceremonies held simultaneously by the nations involved in the Crimean War.

A few kilometres away a reconciliation ceremony is being held, overlooking the land where the Battle of Balaklava took place - along with the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade, where soldiers were ordered to go in the wrong direction.

Military leaders from Britain, France, Turkey, Italy and Russia stood shoulder to shoulder.

As the wintry weather continued, conditions similar to what the soldiers faced, it was made clear that people should never forget the sacrifice made by so many so long ago.

Ukraine honours Crimean War dead
09 Sep 04  |  Europe
Army marks 150 years in home town
30 Apr 04  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Charge commander cast in new light
28 Apr 98  |  UK News


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