I was listening to Star Trap by Simon Brett when the word came up, and left me puzzled. So I stopped the audiobook, opened the dictionary app, and got a mini history lesson.
balaclava |ˌbaləˈklävə| (also balaclava helmet) nouna close-fitting garment covering the whole head and neck except for parts of the face, typically made of wool.
ORIGIN late 19th cent.(denoting a garment worn originally by soldiers serving in the Crimean War): named after the village of Balaclavain the Crimea (see Balaclava, Battle of).
Balaclava, Battle of |ˌbaləˈklävə| a battle of the Crimean War, fought between Russia and an alliance of British, French, and Turkish forces in and around the port of Balaclava (now Balaklava) in the southern Crimea in 1854. The battle ended inconclusively; and is chiefly remembered as the scene of the Charge of the Light Brigade.
Charge of the Light Brigadea British cavalry charge in 1854 during the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War. A misunderstanding between the commander of the Light Brigade and his superiors led to the British cavalry being destroyed. The charge was immortalized in verse by Tennyson.
Most I recall of my high school history classes is boredom and the recitation on names and dates. All I actually know of history is from books, films, and television.
The Charge of the Light Brigade sounds like humongous military fuck-up worthy of Black Adder. Although George McDonald Frasier gave it a good go too in Flashman at the Charge. Sir Harry Flashman is the perfect anti-hero, an unabashed coward who constantly finds himself in the heat of the battle, despite his best efforts to avoid them.
My favorite though is Astrid Amara's Devil Lancer. Probably because it's full of dark paranormal mystery and steamy m/m goodness.
As I was searching for images on Pinterest, I discovered that the Crimean War was also Florence Nightingale's first big job.