Thomas WilsonBiography | Medals | Glossary
In 1854 the 68th Light Infantry joined the Allied invasion of the Crimea to capture Russia's naval base at Sebastopol. As the Allies advanced, battles were fought at Alma and Balaclava, though the Durhams only had a minor role in both. However at Inkerman on 5 November 1854 the Durhams played a major part in the most important battle of the war, when 250 men charged and routed 1500 Russian soldiers. During the bitter winter that followed cold, wet and disease (cholera) killed more British soldiers in the trenches than enemy bullets. On 11 May 1855 the Russians attacked the Durham's trenches and John Byrne, who had already rescued a wounded soldier at Inkerman, killed a Russian soldier in a bayonet duel. He was later awarded the Victoria Cross - the first awarded to the Regiment. With the war finally won, the 68th Light Infantry left the Crimea in May 1856.
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