Fremantle Stuff > FHS > Studies Days > 2016 > Diane Oldman

This presentation was given at the 2016 Fremantle Studies Day but is unlikely to be represented in the 10th number of Fremantle Studies, and appears here instead.

Fremantle's Link to the Crimean War

Diane Oldman

Why is an Australian talking about an essentially British War? My interest started with a tour of the Crimean War battlefields in 2007 and continued until I had identified over 300 veterans of the war who came to Western Australia. I am now publishing profiles and stories of these men on a website.

The Crimean Peninsula


Places of importance: Varna, Kalimata Bay, River Alma, Balaclava and Sevastopol.

The War

In September 1854, the armies of Britain, France and Turkey invaded Russia, ostensibly over disputed access to the holy sites of Jerusalem.  But of course there were other agendas.  In the months and years that followed, over half a million soldiers died from wounds, disease, starvation and cold.  The Crimean War was a medieval conflict fought in a modern age.  Nonetheless, the war produced some interesting celebrities, both military and civilian. More importantly it paved the way for major changes in the structure of the British Army.


• Changes in the balance of power in Europe e.g.
• Weakening of the Ottoman Empire & Expansion of Russia
(1st and 2nd Russian-Turkish Wars between 1769 &1791)
• Britain’s concern about trade routes to the East
• Louis Napoleon of France’s quest for influence in the East
• Custody of the Holy Lands (Catholic vs. Orthodox). The Muslim Governor intervened to stop them killing each other.


Russia [invaded Moldavia and Walachia (Rumania) in July 1853
Ottoman Empire (Turkey) [declared war on Russia Oct 1853]
Britain [Feb 1854 troops set sail for the East followed by British Baltic Fleet]
France [Mar 1854 troops set sail for the East followed by French Baltic Fleet]
France & Britain declared war on Russia 28 March 1854 and in
April 1854 Austria and Prussia declare neutrality
Kingdom of Piedmont (Sardinia) [Jan 1855 joined the Allies]

Best Known Battles

ALMA [20 Sep 1854]

BALAKLAVA [25 Oct 1854]

➢ Charge of the Heavy Brigade (hugely outnumbered but a success) to quote a reviewer of a book on the subject:

Strangely, although the Light Brigade charge has inspired more interest than perhaps any other incident in British military history, the charge by the heavy cavalry outside Balaklava a little earlier on the same day is almost unknown outside Crimean War circles. Its success probably counts against it, as Britons seem to glory more in gallant failure than in a well-executed and effective action, even one against large odds. ... For such was the Charge of the Heavy Brigade.

➢ Charge of the Light Brigade (disaster)
➢ Thin Red Line (Sir Colin Campbell and his Highlanders successful)

INKERMAN [5 Nov 1854]

SEVASTOPOL [2 Oct 1854-8 Sep 1855]


Celebrities of the Crimea

Fitzroy Somerset, Lord Raglan, Commander in Chief.
George Charles Bingham, Lord Lucan Commander of the Cavalry.
James Thomas Brudenell, Lord Cardigan, Commander of the Light Cavalry.
Captain Louis Edward Nolan on Raglan’s staff at his HQ: took ‘Order’ to Lucan.
Florence Nightingale – took around 40 nurses to the Crimea in late 1854.

The Celebrities who link to Fremantle

A Man of Merit: Charles Finnerty

The Lacemaker’s Son: Henry Passmore

The Swordsman Survivor: Henry Dyson Naylor

The Fenian “Heavy”: Patrick Keating

Head Count of Crimean War Veterans in WA

➢ Enrolled Pensioner Force (convict guards) – 236 (73%)
Including one VC recipient
Four Officers
➢ Warders and Gaolers – 29
➢ Instructing Warders (RSM) – 5
➢ Convicts – 38
➢ Police – 2
➢ Free Settlers – 14
➢ Total: 324 (inc. 13 invalid claims)

➢ Computer Capacity 20.5 GB 17,442 Files in 1,094 folders

How many of you had an ancestor in one of these categories?

Most were associated with the Convict Establishment (later named Fremantle Prison).


Numbers are for direct appointments – but many men of the EPF men applied for employment after arrival. Up to 60% left the Colony to settle in the Eastern States, New Zealand or returned to the UK.
The painting is by Captain Henry Wray, Royal Engineers, who supervised the building of Fremantle Prison.

Crimean War Veterans in Western Australia

Garry Gillard | New: 25 January, 2018 | Now: 4 December, 2019