27.10.10

Fanny Dubberly

Three sad conflicts occured right in the midst of the 19th century. These sanguine wars were the Crimean War, the Civil War, and the Franco-Prussian War. These were the first wars which photograhy brought the War right into the living rooms of the world. Today I report on one of the misconceptions of the Crimean War, that of Fanny Duberly.

In 1968 Americans were introduced to the Crimean war via the film "Charge of the Light Brigade". the part of "Fanny" was played by Jill Bennett who played a cheating Cardigan groupie in the film. In reality she was far, far different.

A new version of Fanny Duberly's Journal about the horrors of the Crimean war will ensure she gets the place in history she deserves, says Cassandra Jardine

The boots sent out to the soldiers are "little better than paper"; the wounded are "bundled" off to hospitals where they lie in their own excrement, while pay and conditions are inadequate for the soldiers forced to endure months of bombardment in "blistering" heat.

It is a distressing catalogue of mismanagement that could well apply to current conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, these criticisms were made more than 150 years ago by a young British woman during the Crimean war.

Were she living today, Fanny Duberly would be a Kate Adie or an Orla Guerin, filing vivid accounts "from our own correspondent" for the BBC. She had passion, bite, an eye for detail and fearless determination to see events for herself.

Her report on the Charge of the Light Brigade inspired Tennyson's thundering poem: "...Into the valley of Death/ Rode the six hundred."

Until now, William Howard Russell, who arrived later in the Crimea to report for the Times, has taken the credit for being the first modern war reporter and whistle-blower on the grisly conditions. However, a new edition of Mrs Duberly's Journal should correct that. First published in 1855, it alerted the British public to the realities of conflict and caused a sensation.
continued here.

Mrs Duberly's War: Journal and Letters from the Crimea, 1854-6

It was "Fanny" who Inspired Tennyson in his poem Charge of the Light Brigade, that students in my era had to recite in school. ...But that was a different time too.

The Charge Of The Light Brigade

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Memorializing Events in the Battle of Balaclava, October 25, 1854
Written 1854

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd ?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd & thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack & Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter'd & sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse & hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!


Jhesu+Marie,
Brantigny

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