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The harsh winter of 1854-5

On 5 November 1854 the allies repelled an attack by the Russians at the battle of Inkerman, but it had become clear that Sebastopol would not fall before the winter. Nine days later a hurricane hit the peninsula, sinking British supply ships anchored off Balaklava.

The loss of many winter supplies spelled disaster for the British troops, who lacked warm clothing and proper shelter against the Crimean winter. Queen Victoria, anxious to hear about the welfare of the soldiers, was kept informed of events, and copies of some of the soldiers’ letters were circulated. Extracts from two such letters give an insight into the harsh conditions faced that winter. Cholera also continued to affect the troops throughout the winter and into the following year.