WILLIAM HOWARD RUSSELL
THE IRISH WAR CORRESPONDENT WHO EXPOSED THE BRUTAL REALITIES OF THE CONFLICT 1820-1907 GREAT BRITAIN
Russell was educated at Trinity College Dublin and began his journalistic career in London and Ireland. A reporter with The Times, he first reported on conflict during the First Schleswig War in Denmark in 1850 before making his name in the Crimea. Unwelcomed by the British high command, Russell befriended junior officers and lower ranks, and gained information by observing them. He championed the ordinary British soldier while sharply criticising senior officers, including Commander-in-chief Lord Raglan.
His dramatic writing had a great impact on the British public and politicians and he coined the phrase “The Thin Red Line” from his paraphrased description of Highland troops at Balaclava. Russell exposed logistical and medical bungling, which encouraged Florence Nightingale to set out for the Crimea. At the same time, he also supported Mary Seacole’s nursing efforts. His reports of the atrocious fighting conditions were the first time that the British public regularly read about the realities of warfare en masse. As such, Russell (who was later knighted) is regarded as one of the first modern war correspondents.
Russell wore a quasi-military uniform in the Crimea and although he was armed he did not fight in battle