Finally I got up and trudged back to the camp. There was hardly anyone to greet me. My friends were gone. My life was gone. Everything I thought I knew and believed was gone. It was in this bitter state of mind that I discovered that this pointless battle was due to a miscommunication. Any pride I had left in our military and political leaders were replaced by grief and fury. I felt betrayed. I felt that all my sacrifice amounted to naught. All those lives, oh so many hundreds of lives, what for? How can I ever place my trust in the army again?
I had trusted the integrity and responsibility of the generals and in my all innocence, I naively followed orders that were quite obviously insane, but to discover that we gave up our lives for a mere mistake was a crushing disappointment.
And it didn’t end there. We had no fuel or charcoal since we were so down on men that we couldn’t spare any to draw some at Balaclava. One night, my shoes froze. My feet swelled into a balloon of frost bitten skin and shrivelled nails. The dedicated soldiers would often go to the trenches without shoes on, the floor saturated in sewage-like liquid. Many of my friends lost their feet; it was painful to see. Some saw death as a welcome respite to the utterly hellish conditions, horrible diseases and excruciatingly slow days they endured. With adequate transport like the French, we would have been able to prevent many of these issues.
I’m left pondering: what was the point of this war? Was it worth the lives we pay for it? All I can hope for is that some lessons will now be learned, so that my comrades should not have fallen in vain. Communication and strategy needs to be improved, transport and organization needs drastic changes and life needs to be valued if England wants its young men to restore their trust in the army again.