Ron Clayton, (Letters, September 12), disputes my claim that the Crimean War was “one of the darkest episodes in European history” and suggests that the First and Second World Wars outdid it in terms of human suffering.
True but, as their name suggests, those wars were not confined to European protagonists.
The fact remains that the Crimean War was the major conflict of 19th century Europe and is memorable mainly for the failings of the political and military establishment.
While the number of British casualties might be dismissed as insignificant compared to later wars, the total of all nationalities killed cannot.
More than 125,000 Russians perished during the siege of Sebastopol alone and a high proportion of these were not killed outright but died of their injuries or of disease through a lack of adequate medical care.
Incidentally, the belief that Victoria Crosses are made of bronze from Russian cannon captured at Sebastopol was exposed as a myth some years ago.
It would appear that, for the first 58 years, they were made from metal of a gun from an earlier conflict and that, since 1914, the source of the bronze has been a Chinese-made cannon.
Where this was captured remains a mystery.