William Russell’s despatches to The Times revolutionised war reporting, and hence the public’s perception of war. Each piece was written with a bludgeoning honesty, a refusal to compromise and with the meticulous detail of someone who cared deeply for what they were doing. From the first sailing of the expedition, to the final surrender of Sebastopol, Russell witnessed the battles of the Alma, Inkerman, Balaklava and the Tchernaya. He saw the tragic charge of the Light Brigade and the carnage at the Malakoff and the Redan. His descriptions are graphic, and still come across as extraordinarily modern. The despatches allowed the public to read about the reality of warfare, diminishing the distance between the home front and remote battlefields. Within the space of just a few months, Russell became a national figure in Britain. Shocked and outraged, the public’s backlash from his reports led the Government to vastly improve soldiers’ living standards and inspired Florence Nightingale to lead 38 volunteer nurses to Balaklava to improve sanitation for the wounded soldiers.
DESPATCHES FROM THE CRIMEA
William Howard Russell was an Irish reporter with The Times, and is considered to have been one of the first modern war correspondents. He spent 22 months covering the Crimean War, including the Siege of Sevastopol and the Charge of the Light Brigade. Russell’s dispatches via telegraph from the Crimea remain as his legacy; for the first time he brought the realities of war home to readers. This helped diminish the distance between the home front and remote battle fields.