"The 33rd (or The Duke of Wellington's) Regiment at the Battle of the Alma"
by David Rowlands
Image Size 58 x 38 cm
20 September 1854: The first battle of the Crimean War took place when the British and French attacked the Russians who held a formidable position on the steep slope above the River Alma. The 33rd was the centre regiment of the 1st Brigade, which was ordered to advance across the river and into the direction of the 'Great Redoubt', an entrenched position which the Russians had dug to form a protective earth bank. This position held as many as 16 battalions and 14 heavy guns. Marching steadily uphill, under artillery and musket fire, the 7th, 23rd and 33rd Regiments, despite losing their line formation, reached their objective and leapt into the Great Redoubt cheering as they did so. The Russian infantry were formed in a deep mass, and the two sides blazed away at each other at short range. The British carried the position most gallantly, and after a fierce struggle drove the Russians out. Three officers in succession had been shot while carrying the Colours of the 33rd.
Captain Wallis described how, as the Russian gunners furiously struggled to withdraw their guns, a private of the 33rd spotted one being limbered up. Two horses were already attached, but he managed to seize the gun and bring it away. Sir George Brown, commanding the Light Division , had seen his action and ordered Colonel Blake to promote him to sergeant for his gallant conduct.
The Light Division had been so mauled and disordered that a Russian counter-attack drove it back from the Great Redoubt, but the Guards and the Highland Brigade coming up at last drove the enemy from the battlefield.
The 33rd suffered more casualties than any other British regiment engaged. Colonel Blake's horse was wounded in three places.