Friday, March 07, 2014

Old Tactic, New Tactic

One of the prominent sights in Sebastopol, Crimea is the monument to the scuttled ships in the harbour. It commemorates ships scuttled by the Russians during the Crimean War (1853-56) to try to prevent the Allied forces of Britain and France landing. It delayed them for a time, but Russia ended up losing that war.

Russian forces, which the Allies believed to be formidable, proved to be less fearsome than expected, but it took a lot of suffering for that to be discovered. Perhaps the best-known event of the war, at least in the English-speaking world, is the Charge of the Light Brigade against Russian guns on a field near Balaclava. It was memorialised in a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

What is interesting is that the scuttled ships tactic seems to have been revived. I saw on CNN yesterday a shot of a Russian ship that had been scuttled somewhere near Sebastopol in an effort to contain Ukrainian naval forces.

Today if you visit Sebastopol (well, maybe not today but hopefully soon,) you can visit a museum called the Sebastopol Panorama that reproduces a specific day during the war when Sebastopol was besieged. It depicts the some of the troops and equipment on both sides, and gives you a good idea of the horrors of 19th century warfare. The admission fee is very reasonable, and English-speaking guides are available at extra cost.

One of the regrettable effects of the present turmoil in Ukraine is that it will probably discourage tourism to what is one of the most appealing and reasonably-priced destinations in Europe. Below is an image of the monument to the scuttled ships.


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