Wednesday, 14 March 2012


The Grenadier Guards landed at Kalamita Bay in the Crimea in September 1854, as part of the Guards Brigade, 1st Division, English Army of the East. These were Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s elite personal guards. In the Crimea the Guards Brigade consisted of the Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, and Scots Fusilier Guards. The Guards’ battle honours include Alma, Inkerman, and the Siege of Sevastopol.

Sir Charles Russell was awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest decoration for bravery, for his actions at the Battle of Inkerman, 5 November 1854, at age twenty-eight. The then Brevet Major Russell offered to dislodge a significant group of Russians from the Sandbag Battery, asking if anyone would follow him. A sergeant and two privates volunteered. His assault party met much resistance, and seemed on several occasions to be close to annihilation. Their skill, particularly with the bayonet, prevailed, and the enemy was sent on their way. Russell fought with great distinction, at one point wrenching the rifle from the hands of a large, powerful Russian. Sir Charles achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring from the Guards.

The 1846 Uniform Regulations describe the cap in the photograph as a “bear-skin, twelve inches deep, fastened under the chin by a plain gilt taper chain.” Just prior to embarking for the Crimea, the Guards modified their bearskin caps by cutting them down a few inches. Perhaps in keeping with this modification, the actual measurement for the cap in this photograph was ten inches deep. It is also interesting that this bearskin is a soft leather collapsible cap, rather than the stiff Guards caps routinely seen, which have a bamboo-like cage beneath the skin itself

The white goat’s hair plume on the left side indicates the bearskin is Grenadier Guards, who were on the right flank of the Guards Brigade. A Coldstream Guards’ scarlet cut-feather plume was on the right side, as they were on the left flank. The Scots Fusilier Guards had no plume and were in the center of the line.
54mm Metal British Ensigns by Victrix

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