Letters 1.5.21

Tread lightly upon our hero of the charge

AN exhibit in our new Museum Boola Bardip caught my attention: an old cavalry sabre.

Apparently the weapon belonged to one Henry Dyson Naylor who as a 19-year-old in the English 13th Light Dragoons was one of the few to survive the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade on October 25, 1854.

This notorious stuff-up was one incident in the Crimean War where England, France and Turkey combined to oppose a Russian push for naval supremacy in the Black Sea with its warm water ports.

On the morning of the charge the English were assembled at the western end of the Balaclava valley formed by the Fedioukine Heights to the north and the Causway Heights on the south.

About two kilometres east along the valley the Russians were firmly entrenched with cannon and cavalry.

Making the situation worse, the Russians held the heights on either side, the Causway Heights having been wrested from the Turks only a few days earlier. In that bloody skirmish an English redoubt with cannon had fallen into Russian hands.

Lord Raglan (think sleeves) was in charge of the English forces and observed all from his vantage point on Sapoune Ridge.

From this high position Raglan saw that the Russians were about to remove the cannon.

Raglan had fought under Wellington (think boots). It was said that Wellington had never lost a cannon; Raglan, though he had lost an arm at Waterloo, was determined not to lose a cannon now!

He gave the order that the Light Brigade gallop over, give the Russians hell and “spike” the cannon, that is, drive an iron spike or bayonet into the touch hole thus making it inoperable.

The officers in the valley, unaware of the activity on the Causway Heights, assumed the order, relayed through several messengers, referred to the cannons at the far end of the valley – a suicide mission!

Lord Cardigan (think… cardigan!) led the charge; Henry Naylor was in front but to the far right of him.

Naylor made it to the Russian guns and found himself in hand-to-hand sabre contest with a Russian whom he eventually cut down. (Ragged notches in the sabre bear witness to the fight.) Then his horse was shot from beneath him and his jaw and shoulder were shattered. He and a few others limped to safety.

Of his regiment 125 rode in and only 39 returned.

His injuries were so serious he was sent back to England to recover.

His sabre is on display in the Connections Gallery.


Yes – Henry joined the Pensioner Guard and on 9 June 1862 with wife Henrietta, two children, a troupe of fellow Guards and two hundred convicts, arrived in Fremantle on the Norwood.

He died in Fremantle on March 26, 1894 and was interred with full military honours in Fremantle’s Skinner Street Cemetery.

When I searched for his grave I was told he lay beneath John Curtin College Oval.

Tread gently girls and boys in your sprigs and spikes: beneath that land rests a hero!

Mike Roeger

Alcohol not warranted

THANKS for drawing attention to the future of the Maylands tearoom situated near Tranby house. 

I have been walking and canoeing in this area for over 30 years and believe that this part of the river foreshore is a real treasure. 

Like previous correspondent, Helen Oxnam, I hope that the tearooms will be renovated in a simple and tasteful way and that this cafe will remain a lovely quiet place for pleasant family gatherings. 

While a bottle of wine with lunch is not a problem, it is not a place which is suitable as a bar or a night venue. 

There are too many homes close by. 

Surely there are enough evening venues already.

Vicki Dixon
via email

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