Trac­ing Sevastopol fight­ers

If your an­ces­tor was at Sevastopol but didn’t leave a per­sonal ac­count of the siege, what can you do? We make some sug­ges­tions

Your Family History - - Military History: The Siege Of Sevastopol -

Sergeant Ti­mothy Gow­ing of the Royal Fusiliers was among those who made that fi­nal as­sault on Sevastopol on 8 June. “As the hour of 12 drew near, all hands were on the alert; we knew well it was death for many of us,” he later wrote. “Sev­eral who had gone through the whole cam­paign shook hands, say­ing, ‘This is hot! Good­bye, old boy!’”

The Bri­tish ran a 200m gaunt­let to reach the Great Redan bas­tion, along which a ter­ri­ble fire of grape, can­is­ter and mus­ket “swept down whole com­pa­nies at a time”. Those who sur­vived found the hard work had only just be­gun. “The fight­ing in­side the works was des­per­ate — butt and bay­o­net, foot and fist … Some of the older hands did their best to get to­gether suf­fi­cient men for one charge at the en­emy, for we had of­ten proved that they were no lovers of cold steel; but our poor fel­lows melted away al­most as fast as they scaled those bloody para­pets, from a cross-fire the en­emy brought to bear upon us from the rear.”

There are a num­ber of re­sources you can trace fam­ily mem­bers who fought in this bit­ter bat­tle and the pre­ced­ing months of the siege. Army muster and pay lists for the years 1730-1878 are held by the Na­tional Ar­chives (­tion­ at Kew un­der WO 12; WO 14 will also be rel­e­vant, as it holds the records of the Scu­tari De­pot in Is­tan­bul, from which the Bri­tish de­parted for the Crimea. Pen­sion records for men who were dis­charged prior to 1883 can be found in WO 97.

If your an­ces­tor sur­vived, look for their name in the medal rolls (WO 100) – everyone who fought at Sevastopol was awarded the Crimea Medal. A hand­ful of civil­ians also re­ceived this dec­o­ra­tion, among them Wil­liam Howard Rus­sell.

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