“England expects every man to do his duty.”
Lord Nelson was struck by a musket ball fired by a French sniper and fell, fatally wounded. Today we celebrate a turning point in this countries history, but let us also commemorate those who died in the English, Spanish and French Fleets.
A French report of the time on the battle: “Our victory was now complete, and we prepared to take possession of our prizes; but the elements were unfavourable to us…the gale abated, thirteen of our fleet got safe to Cadiz; the other twenty have, no doubt, gone to some other port…. Our loss was trifling…. However we lament the absence of Admiral Villeneuve, whose ardour carried him beyond the strict bounds of prudence….”
Villeneuve had committed suicide to escape the wrath of Napoleon.
..and you thought political spin was invented by the Blairites !
HMS VICTORY had a crew of 820 men commanded by Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy. There were 9 Commissioned Officers, 21 Mishipmen and 77 Non-commissioned Warrant and Petty Officers, the rest of the crew comprised of Able and Ordinary Seaman, Landsmen, supernumeries and 31 boys. Also within this complement was a detachment of 146 Royal Marines from the Chatham Division, commanded by Captain Charles Adair. Apart from the 700 English, Irish, Scots and Welsh, 18 different nationalities were represented on the Victory, at the Battle of Trafalgar. She suffered some of the worst casualties of the Allied Fleet at the battle with 57 of her crew killed or dying of their wounds a few days later, and a further 102 wounded.
Here is a poem Dedicated to the real hero’s of Trafalgar:
They got the guns ready for action,
And that gave ‘em trouble enough,
They ‘adn’t been fired all the summer
And touch-holes were bunged up wi’ fluff
Joe’s cannon it weren’t ‘alf a corker,
The cannon balls went three foot round,
They wasn’t no toy balloons neither,
They weigh’d close on sixty-five pound.
Joe, selecting two of the largest,
Was going to load double for luck,
When a hot shot came in thro’ the porthole,
And a gunpowder barrel got struck.
By gum! there weren’t ‘alf an explosion,
The gun crew was filled wi’ alarm,
As out of the port-hole went Joseph,
Wi’ a cannon ball under each arm.
At that moment up came the ‘Boat-swine’,
He says ‘where’s Joe?’
Gunner replied “E’s taken two cannon balls with ‘im,
And gone for a breather outside. ‘
‘Do y’think he’ll be long?’ says the ‘Boat-swine’,
The gunner replied ‘If as ‘ow,
‘E cornes back as quick as ‘e left us,
‘E should be ‘ere any time now.’
And all this time Joe, treading water,
Was trying ‘is ‘ardest to float,
‘E shouted thro’ turmoil of battle,
‘Tell someone to lower a boat.’
‘E’d come to the top for assistance,
Then down to the bottom ‘e’d go;
This up and down kind of existence,
Made ev’ryone laugh except Joe.
At last ‘e could stand it no longer,
And next time ‘e came to the top,
‘E said ‘If you don’t come and save me,
I’ll let these ‘ere cannon balls drop.’
‘T were Nelson at finish who saved him
And ‘e said Joe deserved the V.C.,
But finding ‘e ‘adn’t one ‘andy,
‘E gave Joe an egg for ‘is tea.
And after the battle was over,
And vessel was safely in dock,
The sailors all saved up their coupons,
And bought Joe a nice marble clock
1880 – 1951
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