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The Crimean War was the most destructive armed conflict of the Victorian era. It is remembered for the unreasoning courage of the Charge of the Light Brigade, for the precise volleys of the Thin Red Line and the impossible assaults upon Sevastopol's Redan. It also demonstrated the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the British military system based on privilege and purchase.??Poor organisation at staff level and weak leadership from the Commander-in-Chief with a lack of appreciation of the conditions the troops would experience in the Crimea resulted in the needless death of thousands of soldiers. The Royal Navy, by comparison, was highly effective and successfully undertook its operations in the Baltic, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.??The relative performance of the two branches of Britain's armed forces is reflected in the despatches sent back to the UK by the?respective commanders. The comparative wealth of detail provided by Admirals Napier, Dundas and Lyons contrast sharply with the limited, though frequent, communications from Generals Raglan, Codrington and Simpson.??The despatches of all these commanding officers are presented in this compilation just as they were when first published in the 1850s. They tell of the great battles of the Alma, Balaklava and Inkerman, of the continuing struggle against Sevastopol and the naval operations which cut the Russian communications and ensured an eventual, if costly, victory. They can be read, just as they were when revealed to the general public more than 150 years ago.
The Middle East Command in the Second World War covered a vast region, stretching across Egypt, Libya, Malta, Palestine and Transjordan, Cyprus, Sudan, Eritrea, most of Syria and a small part of Iraq, and included some forty different languages. At one point it also oversaw operations in Greece, Kenya and British Somaliland. Its campaign area ran for a thousand miles from the Jordan to the Horn of Africa. Initially under the leadership of General Sir Archibald Wavell, Middle East CommandÕs early actions were in contending with the Italian forces in Libya and Italian East Africa. He was soon distracted by the German invasion of Greece and the subsequent defence of, and withdrawal from, the Island of Crete. With his attention turned from North Africa to the ®gean, Italian forces in North Africa were able to hold their ground and even receive reinforcements in the form of RommelÕs Afrika Korps . WavellÕs despatches detail all of these campaigns up to July 1941, when he was superseded by General Claude Auchinleck. The ÔAukÕ had to deal with the Anglo-Free French invasion of Syria and Lebanon and the nationalist uprising in Iraq. His main concern, though, was with stopping RommelÕs advances through Libya. The Axis forces were eventually held close to the border of Egypt at El Alamein. It was as far as Rommel would go and it marked the end of the long run of Axis successes in North Africa. The despatches presented here form a unique collection of original reports from the commanding officers in this widespread and difficult region. This is the first time these documents have been brought together in a single volume
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