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Last Updated: Monday, 25 October, 2004, 21:04 GMT 22:04 UK
Brigade bugle echoes over 'Valley of Death'
By Helen Fawkes
BBC News, Balaclava

Horsemen re-enact the Charge of the Light Brigade
About 200 cavalrymen died in the charge
Wearing authentic blue and grey uniforms, a group of British men rode into the Valley of Death once again.

The horsemen galloped across the battlefields of the Crimean War, now surrounded by vineyards.

"We often remember people who die in 20th-century conflicts, but so many men lost their lives here that we shouldn't forget them," says 18-year-old John White, one of the military enthusiasts taking part.

To prepare for the event, the group have been experiencing similar conditions to that of soldiers from the Crimean War.

The re-enactors have been living in Victorian tents and eating food typical of the period.

The 150th anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade is being marked in what is now Ukraine.

How the charge unfolded in facts, figures and maps

It is one of Britain's most famous military blunders.

Almost 700 Calvary men took part. Confusion and incompetence meant the soldiers were sent in the wrong direction.

They faced Russian guns on the hills to the left, to the right and straight ahead. There were many casualties.

Len Gardner's grandfather was one of the survivors.

"Being here, seeing the battlefield and all the hills around it, I can understand why the mistake was made," says the 80-year-old.

'Suicidal bravery'

The original charge was led by the Earl of Cardigan on instructions from Commander-in-Chief Lord Raglan.

As part of the commemorations, the current Earl, David Brudenell-Bruce, retraced his distant relative's steps on horseback.

"They knew it was suicidal, but they showed great bravery by following the orders they were given," he says.

"My journey through the valley was a very special moment."

Men in uniforms prepare for the re-enactment
Re-enactors have tried to recreate the brigade's original conditions
A ceremony attended by the Duke of Edinburgh was held to pay tribute to those who died.

At a British monument, wreaths were laid by all the nations who took part in the Crimean War.

Up to a million people died in the conflict, which started after Russia had attacked the ailing Ottoman Empire.

In response, Britain and France invaded the Crimea which was then part of Russia.

As the mist gathered around the Crimean hills, the original bugle which heralded the start of the charge was played.

It is the first time the battered instrument has been heard here for 150 years.

Light Brigade hero is remembered
24 Oct 04  |  Staffordshire


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