Tomorrow, in case you didn’t know, is Trafalgar Day.
Generally considered to be the most decisive naval victory of the Napoleonic Wars. Twenty-seven British ships of the line led by Admiral Lord Nelson aboard HMS Victory defeated thirty-three French and Spanish ships of the line under French Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve off the south-west coast of Spain, just west of Cape Trafalgar. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost twenty-two ships, without a single British vessel being lost.
Nelson lost 458 men with just over 1,200 injured. The French had 10 ships captured, one ship destroyed, 2,218 dead, 1,155 wounded, 4,000 captured. The Spanish had 11 ships captured, 1,025 dead, 1,383 wounded, 4,000 captured. 3,000 prisoners drowned in the storm after the battle. Staggering isn’t it?
Some governments have suggested making 21st October a public holiday instead of the May Bank Holiday but somehow the idea has never got off the ground. Just because over 200 years have passed I don’t think we should forget what an incredible victory Nelson achieved that day. I have taken my children to his tomb in St. Paul’s Cathedral and they have been to HMS Victory twice. I hope, if they have children themselves, they will do the same.
I, for one, regret the lack of celebration that I’m sure tomorrow will bring. If you watch this clip from Pathe News from 1955 you will get some idea of how the world has changed during my lifetime.