The Battle of Balaclava, fought on 25 October 1854 during the Crimean War, was part of the Siege of Sevastopol, an Allied attempt to capture the port and fortress of Sevastopol, Russia’s principal naval base on the Black Sea.

The Honour is borne on the Guidon of the 4th Hussars.


The 4th (Queen’s Own) Light Dragoons and the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars both fought in this, the most famous of all cavalry actions: The Charge of the Light Brigade.

Lord Raglan, The Commander-in-Chief, wished Lord Lucan, the cavalry commander, to prevent the Russians from removing the guns that they had captured on the Causeway Heights.

Owing to inaccurate passage of information and a difference of perspective, Lucan ended up ordering Lord Cardigan to use his Light Brigade to capture an entirely different objective: the Russians guns at the other end of the valley, a mile and a half away.

The Brigade set off in impeccable formation, the 4th and the 8th as the second line behind the 11th Hussars, 17th Lancers and the 13th Hussars, all the way enduring heavy fire from the guns on both sides of the valley and, when in range, those of their objective.

Each line in turn crashed onto and through the position, clashing with the massed ranks of the enemy’s cavalry beyond the guns.

The 4th, under Lord George Paget, remained on the guns and finished off the artillerymen, until a large body of Lancers was observed coming down to cut them off so, together with the 11th Hussars, Paget wheeled them about and they managed to brush past the enemy and start the long return journey.

Of the 118 men of the 4th that started the charge only 39 returned, and of the 104 men of the 8th only 38 came back: in all 409 of the 607 men in the Light Brigade were either killed or missing.

In the course of the battle the Colonel’s “Rollicking Orderly,” Samuel Parkes, was among the missing. At the time of the charge, Crawford was the Colonel’s trumpeter.

After the charge on the Russian Lancers, Crawford’s horse collapsed from exhaustion and soon afterwards Parkes’ horse was shot. Parkes began to make his way back on foot when he saw Crawford, who had lost his sword in his fall, about to be attacked by two mounted Cossacks. Parkes at once ran to Crawford, stood in front of him, fought back against the two Cossacks and drove them off.

The two men then started to run up the valley and were joined by Private John Edden, also of the 4th, whose horse had also been shot. Soon they came across Major Halkett, lying seriously wounded.

They were preparing to pick Halkett up when some Cossacks began to ride towards them. Halkett told the men to put him down and save themselves, but to put his sword into his hand before they went. Parkes turned and faced the Cossacks, whilst the other two tried again to lift Halkett.

A Russian officer rode up and said to Parkes in English, “Give yourself up, and you won’t be hurt.” Parkes refused and one of the Russians fired his pistol and wounded Parkes in the right hand.

The three of them began to run off. Edden got away but Parkes and Crawford were caught. As they were being taken back they saw that Halkett had died.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. Private Samuel Parkes VC