Vn74.1 The Light Brigade 8/27/77
Miriam, Robby, and I watched on TV this evening a movie about ‘The
Charge of the Light Brigade.’ The movie was an important one for several
reasons. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I try to lead the
children in extending their sense of connection to other places and
other times. Since my grandfather’s grandfather rode with the Light
Brigade in their famous charge at Balaklava, this movie presented a
unique opportunity for a sense of personal involvement in remote events.
The movie was a pre-war (1936) romance with Errol Flynn cast as
Geoffrey Vickers (I suggested to the children that the character was
the grandfather of the Sir Geoffrey we had met at DSRE). The first 90
minutes of the movie was unalloyed “mush.” One incident stood out: the
massacre of the garrison at Chokoti by the Suranis Indians. Miriam had
been content and a little smug when noises of clashes sent men to the
border and left the women behind. Both children were terribly shocked
that ‘the bad guys’ killed everyone when they captured the fort. They
were especially appalled to see the children and their mothers shot and
stabbed. When I recalled the many documentaries on World Wars I and II
which both have watched, even some with the charnel houses of the
concentration camps, when Robby said he thought this was dreadful, I said:
“I understood you liked wars, Rob.” He replied, “They’re all right to
read about in books, but they must really be terrible.” It seems to me
that Robby went a long way towards growing up in those few minutes of
the movies. He went away.
Miriam and I continued watching, waiting to see the cavalry charge.
I recalled Robby when the charge was under way, and he returned, with
only a little enthusiasm. As one could expect, when the horses leapt
over the cannon emplacements, Errol Flynn (or Geoffrey Vickers) drove
his lance through the chest of the chief ‘bad guy.’ Miriam was happy
again as she asked me, “Daddy, everything’s all right again, isn’t it,
now that they killed the bad guys?” I couldn’t give Miriam the
reassurance she wanted, but I said those bad guys were dead, that our
ancestor survived the charge. She took those two positives as adequate,
though not meeting her hope.
This incident shows the children becoming engaged and shocked by
the portrayal of a battle in which one of our ancestors took part.