Please support a British Memorial in the Crimea

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Please support a British Memorial in the Crimea

Postby Swordswoman » 23 Oct 2013 02:58

I’ve asked Mark’s permission to post this here, because I know it’s a subject that’s important to all of us. It’s especially sensitive to those with great-great-grandfathers involved in this war, but I think every one of us cares about the British sailors and soldiers who went out to fight in Crimea.

This post is about what’s happened to them.

With all the current attention to the great cemeteries and white crosses of WWI, it’s hard for us to grasp the fact that our Crimean war dead don’t even have graves. They did have, of course, and while some were buried communally and without headstones, we still have Colborne and Brine’s definitive ‘The Last of the Brave’ to document every stone and marker that stood in 1857. There are E Walker’s lithographs too, so we even know what some of the graveyards looked like:

Graves 2nd Brigade Light Division (Small).jpg
Graves 2nd Brigade Light Division (Small).jpg (109.7 KiB) Viewed 7160 times


They don’t exist any more. The scavenging and desecration started almost as soon as our troops left Crimea, and despite the work of an American philanthropist (Colonel John Gowen) and some rather half-hearted remonstrance from our government it soon became clear that it was difficult to keep vast chunks of viable farmland out of the hands of desperate peasants. By 1900 all but one of the British graveyards had been ‘levelled to the steppe’, and such stones as survived had been moved to our last surviving cemetery at Cathcart’s Hill – the so-called ‘Graveyard of the Generals’. This at least was planted with trees and rose bushes and was properly kept. Churchill visited it during his trip to Yalta in WWII, and it was then in good condition.

Cathcart's Hill Rifle Brigade monument (Small).jpg
Cathcart's Hill Rifle Brigade monument (Small).jpg (111.49 KiB) Viewed 7160 times


In the late 1950s the whole thing was bulldozed under Khrushchev’s orders.
We know of only two fragments of stone that survive, one from the grave of Oliver Colt (Royal Fusiliers), and one from the memorial to General Cathcart himself.

Cathcart's stone at Dergachi (Small).jpg
Cathcart's stone at Dergachi (Small).jpg (141.43 KiB) Viewed 7160 times


Nothing could be done about it until glasnost and the opening of Ukraine, but in the 1990s a certain Colonel Ivanov of Sevastopol proposed a ‘joint venture’ to build a memorial to our troops near the original site at Cathcart’s Hill. The Times ran an appeal, the public donated, a number of the regiments (in particular the Scots Guards) made major contributions, and the complex was built. Only then did Colonel Ivanov claim personal ownership of the land, and demand visitors pay for admission. A convoluted legal battle has been going on ever since, and in the meantime the cheaply built memorial has been left to look after itself.

I visited Sevastopol in 2011, and this is what I saw.

Cathcart's Hill entrance (Small).jpg
Cathcart's Hill entrance (Small).jpg (87.9 KiB) Viewed 7160 times


British obelisk at CH (Small).jpg
British obelisk at CH (Small).jpg (69 KiB) Viewed 7160 times


That’s our memorial. That’s all we have left of the ‘finest army ever to leave these shores’. The French and Turks both have beautifully kept memorials in the region, but this (it seems) is all the British care.

But now for the first time there’s hope. The Ivanov memorial is irretrievably lost, but the Ukrainian government has gifted us a new obelisk at nearby Dergachi (site of the original camp of the 77th Regiment of Foot) and our Embassy at Kyiv has plans to expand this into a proper memorial to name and honour every ship and regiment that served. They even have permission to build a little ‘Place of Contemplation’ at Cathcart’s Hill, to preserve the last link with our original cemetery.

The problem, of course, is money - £70,000 of it to be exact. None of the usual bodies can help (eg Commonwealth War Graves Commission only deals with the World Wars, English Heritage and the War Memorials Trust deal only with the UK) and our only chance is to appeal to the public.

That’s what I’m trying to do. I contacted the Embassy when I got back from Crimea, and promised to help with fundraising once they were ready to go ahead – and that time has now come. The Crimean War Research Society has been brilliant about it, providing a bank account under their own registered charity, and four of the members are helping with the Appeal itself. They’ve even built us a special website http://crimeaappeal.com, where visitors can donate by cheque, credit or debit card, or PayPal. We’ve attracted the support of the Historical Writers’ Association, we’re starting to write to the Regimental Associations, we’re targeting business who might consider corporate donations, and we’re generally up and running.

But of course I need help – as much as I can get – and this is one of the few places where no-one’s going to think it odd to care about soldiers from the 19th century. Can anybody give anything – however little? Would you help put the word out – maybe in another forum, or on a blog, or even just on Facebook and Twitter, ‘liking’, commenting, retweeting or whatever? Is there anyone you know or work with who might be interested? Could you place some flyers for us, or donate something we could raffle, or write a letter to someone who might care? Do you know a journalist who might take up the cause, or an American philanthropist like a latter-day Colonel Gowen? Please, can you help us – in any way at all?

There’s more information on the website, but please just ask if there’s anything else you’d like to know. If you want me to send you flyers or would like to volunteer in any way, then please PM me and be prepared to have your hand bitten off up to the elbow.
Because this is also urgent. Already the world is gearing up for next year’s WWI centenary, and then no-one will want to know about Crimea. Our planning permission at Sevastopol won’t last forever, and the very dedicated Defence Attaché who’s got us this far will soon be moving on. Somehow we have to raise this £70,000 in something like three months.

Thank you for reading this anyway. I’m sorry to be so importunate, but those of you who’ve read the letters and diaries of these men, and then seen that obscenity on Cathcart’s Hill, will understand. Please help them if you can.

Louise
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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby SWB » 23 Oct 2013 08:46

Hello Louise

Having been involved with Anglo-Boer War memorials for 25 years I fully empathise with your cause.

Did you approach the CWGC? They have in recent years given money/expertise to South Africa to help with pre WW1 graves there.

Of course, the British National memorial for the Crimea is in Istanbul and when I last saw it in 2005ish it was in fine condition. Our government may use this an excuse not to help you.

Do you have any contacts with the British Medal Forum (www.bmf.com)? If not I will put you in contact with the forum owner so you can place your message there.

All the best with the project.

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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby crimea1854 » 23 Oct 2013 09:01

Louise

Donation and Gift Aid application now made, however, I note that the appeal website makes little reference to the sacrifice made by the men in the Naval Brigades, both Royal Navy and Royal Marines. I trust that their roll and losses will be reflected on the memorial.

All the best with the project, and do keep us up to date with any developments.

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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby Swordswoman » 23 Oct 2013 09:35

Hello, Meurig,

Thank you so much for posting on this. I'm a complete novice in this area, and any help and advice you can offer will be gratefully appreciated.

I did indeed approach the CWGC right back in 2011, but they refused to help in any way. I think Crimea is a particular embarrassment to them,since they were in charge of it when the bulldozing happened, and they now like to pretend they never had any responsibility for it at all.

But no - I have no contacts with the BMF, and would be very grateful for an introduction to the owner there. I'd feel a bit of a fraud posting in someone's else's community, but you're right, and there'll certainly be people there who care. I already wrote to Lord Ashcroft (who owns the world's largest VC collection) in the hope he might help us, and have my fingers crossed for a reply. For less than the cost of a single VC at auction, we could honour every one of the men who fell in Crimea.

You also raised another very pertinent question by PM - that if we fail to meet our deadline, what will happen to the money? You're right, and I should have made this clearer in the original post, but the deadline is really of our own making - the 'three months' is simply the point after which things could get even harder. Even if they do, we'll still go on with this. The Dergachi project and Cathcart's Hill 'Place of Contemplation' have been priced separately, so we could still pay for one while we go on campaigning for the other - and we're not going to stop until we have them both.

Again, many thanks for posting. I really appreciate your contribution.

Louise
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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby Swordswoman » 23 Oct 2013 10:05

Hello, Martin,

And thank you so much for your donation. That's a brilliantly quick response, and we're all extremely grateful.

Thank you too for raising the point about the Navy involvement, as that's one of my own pet concerns. The Naval Brigade is far too often forgotten in this area, and you'll have noticed that in my first paragraph I actually mentioned the sailors even before the soldiers!

The website is far from finished yet, and we hope to include much more detail on the actual men who died in Crimea - including a blog which will feature very specific individuals, in order to give names and faces to the men now lost in the dust. Meanwhile I'm trying to do this myself wherever I can, and in this post on author JD Davies' blog http://gentlemenandtarpaulins.com/2013/10/07/worthy-causes-part-3-worthy-causes-of-the-crimean-kind/ I've specifically highlighted a single 'Michael Hardy' of the Naval Brigade, who was killed before the Redan.

But yes, the role of both sailors and marines is certainly going to be made clear in the new memorial. We're planning to erect two great plinths, and will be carving directly into the granite the names of every single unit to serve in Crimea - including each individual ship. Our Defence Attache would certainly make sure of that, as he is Colonel Jeremy Burnell RM of the Royal Marines. The Crimean War Research Society have been compiling the lists for him, and below this post I've put the ships so far scheduled for inclusion.

Thank you so much for your help - especially on behalf of the sailors and marines who served in the ships below.

Louise

AGAMEMNON, ALBION, ALGIERS, APOLLO, ARDENT, ARETHUSA, ARROW, ASSISTANCE, BANSHEE, BEAGLE, BELLEROPHON, BOXER, BRITANNIA, CARADOC, CIRCASSIAN, CLINKER, CRACKER, CURAÇOA, CURLEW, CYCLOPS, DAUNTLESS, DIAMOND, FIREBRAND, FURIOUS, FURY, GLADIATOR, GRINDER, HANNIBAL, HIGHFLYER, HIMALAYA, INFLEXIBLE, LEANDER, LEOPARD, LONDON, LYNX, MEDINA, MEDUSA, MEGÆRA, MELAMPUS, MIRANDA, NIGER, ODIN, PIGEON, PRINCESS ROYAL, QUEEN, RECRUIT, RETRIBUTION, RODNEY, ROYAL ALBERT, ST. JEAN D'ACRE, SAMPSON, SANS PAREIL, SIDON, SIMOOM, SNAKE, SPHINX, SPITEFUL, SPITFIRE, STROMBOLI, SWALLOW, TIGER, TERRIBLE, TRAFALGAR, TRIBUNE, TRITON, VALOROUS, VENGEANCE, VESUVIUS, VIPER, VULCAN, WASP, WESER, WRANGLER
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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby crimea1854 » 23 Oct 2013 13:23

Louise

It is good that the men of the Naval Brigades will be honoured on the new memorial, but the list of ships should also include HMS Industry and HMS Moslem.

If there is any way that I can help with research on naval casualties please let me know. In a similar vein you might not have picked up on my write-up for Wm Carne, HMS Albion:

http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=82&t=1883&start=15

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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby timothylrose » 23 Oct 2013 18:30

Louise - I am sure you are aware of the background to the previous memorial on Cathcart's Hill - and the issues around the appeal at that time. You may find a marked reluctance from Regiments to contribute to another fund - to quote you "The scavenging and desecration started almost as soon as" applied after the opening of the new memorial and our infamous Colonel!

I do hope something can be done - we are heading back there next year for the 160th - as a group we have been involved since the first recreation of Crimean battles on the sites and I personally can't think of a better place for one than the old 77th Camp! keep us in the loop - we would be honoured to help be part of a dedication ceremony or whatever next year - atb Tim
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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby Swordswoman » 23 Oct 2013 18:53

Hello again, Martin,

Thank you so much for those two new additions to our list. We're obviously still working on it, but I think we'd have missed HMS Industry altogether because first reports have her down as only a storeship. I didn't personally know of HMS Moslem either, but I see she acted as tender to the Princess Royal and her men were entitled to the Azoff clasp so she most definitely counts. If you come across any others we may have missed, I'd be very grateful if you could let us know. We want this to be a definitive record, with absolutely no-one left out.

And yes, I most certainly read your fascinating write-up of William Carne. I always follow your Crimean posts, ever since you helped me identify handwritten names of merchant ships in this thread: http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=6781. You put me on to the Lloyds Shipping Register, which I've found very helpful ever since.

We do have a naval historian among our volunteers, but it's impossible to have too much research, so any help you can give us would be enormously appreciated. What we're particularly after (for obvious reasons) are any details of men of the Naval Brigade who died ashore - and whose graves would have been among those lost. If there's anyone special you'd like to see featured, then please, please do get in touch.

Thank you again for your help - and for your extremely generous donation.

Louise
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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby Swordswoman » 23 Oct 2013 19:18

Hello, Tim,

Thanks so much for contributing and for your good wishes.

You're quite right about the difficulty in approaching regiments when so many lost their money in the Ivanov debacle, but this is a very different kind of Appeal. This time we're working directly with the Sevastopol authorities rather than with a private individual, and this time our own Embassy will be in charge of how the money is spent. This time the money is being raised through an official registered charity with a specially designated bank account, so there'll be no questions as to where the cash came from or who owns what. This time it's going to be different.

At least it will be if people actually donate money! I do think it's wrong to expect the Army and Navy to look after their own dead when it's the whole country who've benefited from their sacrifice, but I'm finding it hard to get the British public to see that. There's no shortage of sympathy out there, but it doesn't always translate into actual cash. Who wouldn't buy a Light Brigade charger a pint if he walked into their local pub - but giving even a fiver towards his memorial is clearly a different matter. :(

I agree with you about the site of the 77th camp. Professor Natalia Ishchenko says Dergachi is actually where their graveyard was too - which incorporated graves of other Light Division Regiments as well. Colonel Egerton (of the Egerton Raid) was buried here along with Lempriere who died the same night, and so was poor young Hedley Vicars who was killed in the Grand Sortie and whose grave was one of the first to be vandalized. There's a photograph of a section of the original graveyard on our website here http://crimeaappeal.com/proposed-plan/, but I'm afraid it's on conditional loan from the National Army Museum and I can't reproduce it here.

What's your group, Tim? Might they be able to help us publicize this at all - or help in any other way? Obviously it would be great to have them at a rededication, but we have to somehow build the thing first...

Louise
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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby timothylrose » 24 Oct 2013 15:30

Louise - our website is at www.thediehards.co.uk - as part of what we do we portray the 57th from the Crimean War - and have taken part in the reenactments at the Alma over the last 4 years - have you approached Alexei at all about funding btw? Last time I was Natalia was when we were both being interviewed on the Alma battlefield for a television programme out there 3 years ago as I
recall - as I say feel free to drop me a line and keep the faith - atb Tim
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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby Swordswoman » 24 Oct 2013 16:56

Hi, Tim,

The Diehards - fantastic! Of course I know of you, and as long-time allies of the CWRS you should certainly be involved in this. I'll drop you a line, and let's see what we can work out.

Meanwhile, going back to your scavenging point,I think it might be helpful to show everyone the very simple structures we're planning for the new Memorials. Iron plaques can rust or be stolen, so this time the names of units will be engraved directly into the durable granite-facing of the plinths themselves.

This is what we have in mind at Dergachi. The obelisk on its own looks like this:

Dergachi obelisk in context (Small).jpg
Dergachi obelisk in context (Small).jpg (54.27 KiB) Viewed 7029 times


We plan for the plinths to flank it on either side to make a unified whole, like this:

Dergachi illustration (Small) (2).jpg
Dergachi illustration (Small) (2).jpg (48.98 KiB) Viewed 7029 times


We only have a rough schematic for the PoC at Cathcart's Hill so far, but again the emphasis is on durability. Rather than benches which could rot, seating will be amphitheatre style, ie on the specially designed step.

Cathcart's Hill schematic (Small).jpg
Cathcart's Hill schematic (Small).jpg (92.29 KiB) Viewed 7029 times


The idea is that people can sit here, read the history on the plinth, and admire the same harbour view that Cathcart himself loved - and which gave the hill his name.

View from PoC(Small).jpg
View from PoC(Small).jpg (83.14 KiB) Viewed 7029 times


£70,000 isn't much for both these things - imagine what it would cost in UK! Now we just need people to donate to make it happen.

Louise
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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby Mark » 29 Oct 2013 23:49

I thought I would bump this topic back to the attention of members. It seems a worthwhile project that would benefit from the support of members where possible.

Mark
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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby Mark » 02 Nov 2013 23:36

I would like to bring to the attention of members an article that Louise (aka Swordswoman) very kindly wrote for my military history blog on the British Memorial in Crimea. The article can be read online @ http://marksimner.me.uk/guest-author-th ... -berridge/

It is certainly a bit of an eye opener as to the poor state in which the British memorial has fallen despite both the French and Turkish memorials having been well maintained by their own respective authorities. Personally I sometimes despair of the lack of willingness by the British government to intervene in issues such as this. However, both the Victorian Wars Forum staff and I fully support the project to restore and develop the memorial. We hope to help as much as we can with the appeal and encourage members to likewise support it where possible. Can I also thank those who have very kindly donated?

Mark
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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby Mark » 08 Nov 2013 18:55

Just bumping this one back to the attention of members. A very worthy cause that needs our help and support!

Mark
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Re: British Memorial in Crimea

Postby Josh&Historyland » 09 Nov 2013 01:31

I will certainly help spread the word on Twitter any time I can. I hope it happens. And I hope it helps.

Josh.
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