Battle of Inkerman - 19 VC's won
The 5th of November 1854 AD
The Battle of Inkerman, around the town of that name then in the Russian Empire, now in the Ukraine, was one of the most confused in 19th century military history, fought partly in darkness and largely in heavy fog. Perhaps for that reason individual heroism came to the fore, small units frequently cut off behind enemy lines and forced to fight for survival.
The British and French forces around Inkerman were besieging Sebastopol when attacked by Menshikov with vastly superior numbers, but inferior equipment – largely muskets against rifles. The allies won the battle, but it gained time for the Russians, and led to that siege dragging on to the great cost of both sides.
In all 19 VCs were won by British soldiers and sailors (the Naval Brigade fighting on land) during the battle. Two examples of the bravery that saw the awards given: firstly, James Goreman, Thomas Reeves and Mark Scholefield, all sailors, repulsed an attack by a large Russian force with continuous rifle fire, many of their comrades having been killed early in the action; and secondly Thomas Beech of the 92nd Regiment, who on sentry duty alone spotted a party of Russians attacking and robbing wounded British soldiers; rather than wait for help he charged them killing two and driving the rest off.
Only for The Great Redan in June 1855 and Sikandar Bagh during the Indian Mutiny have more VCs awards been given, though the 11 VCs won at Rorke’s Drift are perhaps more famous given the large percentage of recipients in a very small force. It should be noted that the VC was not created until January 1856 , partly in response to the valour shown at Inkerman.
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