Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Brad's summer reading list number 21 - CROO - Victoria's Wars

"Oh, but the tattered web we weave."

It is not unusual to find in the Canon of Sherlock Holmes reference to men who have served in the military.

Matter of fact, that is how we first meet Watson. Watson introduces us to his world with an explanation of his time in service and how he comes to be in London.

In other stories Holmes is mentioned as deducing the appearance of a man by his military bearing.

And Watson's military 'bearing' is also mentioned in this story.

Most of the military adventures suggested in the Canon take place in far off exotic locations.

And if you think about it, it doesn't seem unusual.

During Victoria's reign the empire of Great Britain was at it largest and most extreme. It was the super  power that in just another fifty years would be taken over by the United States.
Britannia still ruled the waves, for better or worse.

Victoria's wars found British fighting men in conflicts all over the world; China, India and other Asian nations. Crimea, Russia, Afghanistan and many areas and countries in Africa. British service man fought in well over one hundred conflicts during Victoria's reign. (In a quick count I came up with 49 major battles. This count does not include small battles.)

Some great movies have come out of this time in British military history, "The Four Feathers", "Zulu" and "Zulu Dawn", among many others.
Most try to show the British soldier as brave and loyal and dependable. Fighting for Queen and country. We have come to expect that as the portrayal of the British soldier at this time.
Also at this time it was still common for officers to have purchased their commissions  This practice was not abolished till 1871.
The explanations behind the justification of purchased commissions is very interesting.

This does not however apply to our two protagonists in this story. Both start as humble soldiers, with one working his way up through the ranks. And with the outcome we find at the end of the case, maybe some of his methods were a little under-handed.

I would suggest that what is described in this story as the Siege at Bhurtee has some similarities to the actual Siege of Cawnpore. It is worth reading about.

Victoria's soldiers were involved in conflicts all over her realm and we should not find it unusual for some of those men to pop up in the Canon, good or bad.

One question: are there any Navy veterans mentioned in the Canon as part of any of the stories?
Not just nautical men, of which there are many, but actual British Navy veterans.

Okay, Brad, I am waiting for our next assignment.

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