- Written by J McDougall
BATTLE OF THE ALMA
20 SEPTEMBER 1854
"THE 95TH BAPTISM OF FIRE"
The basic cause of the Crimean War was the designs of Russia on Constantinople. The Czar of Russia, by diplomatic means, had managed to establish a claim to a protectorate over the Christians in Europe of the Sultan of Turkey - (something like 3/5 of the population of European Turkey). In 1853 the Czar put forward claims which would have meant the virtual disappearance of Turkey as an independent state. So Great Britain and France agreed to support Turkey and declared war on Russia on 28th March 1853. (Sardinia later joined the Western alliance in 1855).
In March 1854, the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment (in 1881 this became the 2nd Battalion the Sherwood Foresters) received orders to be prepared to leave England as part of the Expeditionary Force to Turkey. This force was composed of five Infantry Divisions, each containing two Brigades. The strength of each Division being about "5,000 bayonets". Also a cavalry Division of one heavy and one light Brigade. Finally three troops of Horse Artillery and eight Field Batteries. The Regiment finally collected itself at Portsmouth on April 4th eight companies strong. The 95th had been brought up to strength by volunteers from the 6th, 36th, 48th and 82nd Regiments of Foot and were, according to their officers 'a magnificent body of men'. The Regiment sailed on the "S.S. Medway" for Turkey on the 6th April. The "Medway" put in for coal at Gibraltar on the 14th and Malta on the 19th April. On the 23rd she arrived at Gallipoli for orders and the troops finally landed at Scutari on the 24th April (where they were re-equipped with Minie rifles). It was the first Regiment of it's Brigade to land, the other two Regiments, the 30th of Foot (The Cambridgeshire Regiment) and the 55th of Foot (The Westmoreland Regiment) were not finally on the ground until 21st May.