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Balaklava - the British base

Photograph of Balaklava taken from the Russian Church, showing the upper harbour and the Church of Kadikoi in the distance. The Russian Church is in the foreground to the right. The timber dome and roof are exposed and the doors and windows are filled wit

Balaklava from the Russian Church, Upper Harbour, and Church of Kadikoi in the distance ©

When the British and French armies moved south to besiege Sevastopol, they had to choose a location in which to base themselves. The armies needed to be able to receive both men and supplies without hindrance for what might be many months.

The French based themselves at Kamiesch, whilst the British chose Balaklava. The army took over the town, setting up its own infrastructure including a Post Office and constructing a military railway to transport the supplies as close as possible to the front lines.

When Fenton arrived in the Crimea on 8 March 1855, he disembarked at Balaklava. He took his first photographs on 15 March and spent the next two weeks exploring the port. He described the place in a letter as ‘one great pigsty’, noting the chaos and confusion which he managed to convey in his photographs.