The Battle of Inkermann was fought on the 5thNovember 1854, between a portion of the allied British and French army besieging Sevastopol in the Crimea and a Russian army under Prince Alexander Menshikov. Victory fell to the allies but only through the grit of the ordinary Soldier in fierce hand to hand combat. Inkermann became known as a Soldiers’ Battle scarcely to be surpassed in modern history. The allied Commander was Lord RAGLEN (Fitzroy James Henry SOMERSET, 1788 – 1855), whose wife was Emily Harriet WELLESLEY, daughter of the 3rdEarl of Mornington and niece of the Duke of Wellington. Lord Raglen had lost his right arm at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. He was promoted to Field Marshall after Inkermann.
BUT WHO WAS WILLIAM BYERS?
There is an untended lonely grave upon a misty mound,
At an elevated Churchyard within the Shire of Down,
Where a sandstone marker stands proudly on the ground,
A memorial to a Warrior from a victory of renown.
‘Here lies the body of William Byers who fought at Inkermann’
No time of birth, whence he hailed, or when he passed on.
One asks the question, “Who was he?” answer if you can.
There is a story hidden here of him who’s gone beyon’.
Did he crouch on the frozen earth, beside the bivouac fire,
With the Crimea’s cutting wind chilling him to the core?
Did he keep watch in darkest night as others did retire,
And recall encounters past, also friends who were no more?
Did he look the Russian in the eye, driving the bayonet deep?
As comrades fell and the front reformed, did he hold the line?
Advancing through the smoke and shell on that hillside steep,
Did he rally to the Colours, with an enemy to define?
Was he shocked by the dead and dying at that bloody scene?
In the aftermath of a battle fought where Victory was the cry;
Did he see the broken bodies there; later smell the gangrene,
And give thanks for being spared below that Russian sky.
If you must know of William Byers, then think on Inkermann;
The shot and shell, the blood, the smell, picture him there if you can;
To later rest on a misty moun’,
Beside a Church in the Shire of Down.
Monty Alexander 16.9.99
Note:- William Byers was a Soldier of the 44th (East Sussex) Regiment of Foot. During the Crimean War he took part in the Siege of Sevastopol and the Battles of The Alma and Inkerman. He later partook in the Relief of Lucknow, India in 1857.