“In offering the following pages to the Public, the Compilers trust that they are not too late in attempting to excite an interest relative to the last earthly tenements of those gallant ones who, while they lived, were their country’s noblest pride, and now that they can fight her victories no more, assert a just claim to her undying remembrance.” With this opening sentence i their introduction the compilers of the book, Captain The Hon John Colborne, 60th Royal Rifles (KRRC), late 77th Regiment (Middlesex) and Captain Frederic Brine, Royal Engineers, set out the purpose of their work, and it is a remarkable piece of work at that. Here is the record of graves and memorials in the various, listed cemeteries with details of inscriptions on headstones and memorials, for example: “Sacred to the Memory of Priv. Mich. Murphy. 7 Royal Fusiliers killed in The Trenches on The 1 May/55 Aged 22 Years.” But what is unusual is that not only the wording but also the exact format of the inscription on the headstone/memorial is reproduced in the text, so that if you could go back in time 150 years and visit one of the cemeteries you would see on the grave precisely what you see in the text with the wording arranged just as it is on the headstone. The epitaphs are grouped by cemeteries, some of which are named after the place (Balaklava, Scutari etc) others after the formation or units to which the dead belonged (First Brigade Light Division, Guards and Highlanders etc). Each page is divided into three vertical columns and the headstone inscriptions are shown one beneath the other. But that is not all. In an appendix is a fascinating assembly of thirteen statistical returns giving strengths, casualties and sick figures at various stages. Checking my own regiment (17th Foot) I obtained the following information: Date of Embarkation Dec 2 1854. Strength on embarkation 23 officers 719 NCOs and Men. Reinforcements 31 officers 549 NCOs and Men for a total 54 officers 1,268 NCOs and Men. Died 3 Officers 181 NCOs and Men. Invalided home 24 officers 192 NCOs and Men. PoW nil. Deserters 1. Total casualties 27 Officers 374 NCOs and Men. Strength of regiment on 1st April 1856 31 officers 886 NCOs and Men. Another return gives the strength of English troops at the Battle of Alma – 1,100 Cavalry; 3,100 Artillery and Engineers; 22,600 Infantry. Yet another lists every officer in the first landing (14 Sep 1854) who remained until their deaths in action or of sickness, showing rank, unit and date and reason of death. Great stuff!
John Colborne and Frederic Brine
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2002. SB. N & M Press reprint (original pub 1857). vi + 66pp with 14 lithographs illustrating the cemeteries in their scenic backgrounds.