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Trafalgar 2005

By Leslie J. Weddell  (UK)


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200 years ago Admiral Lord Nelson took the British Fleet out to Trafalgar (a stretch of water near the coasts of Spain and France, I believe) and beat  Napoleon's French & Spanish Fleets to a pulp, despite the british fleet being outnumbered 3 to one. It was a decisive turning point for England, for Napoleon had his sights on invading Britain and making it part of France.

Nelson was a brilliant thinker, and worked out a daring (untried up till then) plan to meet the French &Spanish Armada in a crafty way. Instead of facing them broad on, the way all Navel battles had been fought for centuries, he came at them as if he was going to do just that- but at the last minute he directed his fast little ships to alter course and come in just behind the rear (stern) of each of the enemy ships, thus making it impossible for them to react with their overpowering gun power.

The famous signal Nelson sent (by flags) to his fleet was this. "England expects every man to do his duty."  He was mortually wounded during the raging battle and died about two hours later, but not before knowing that the enemy had been beaten. after that, Napoleon decided he had underestimated the Royal Navy, and scrapped his plans to invade England.

as you know, every ship has a Captain. No matter if there is an admiral aboard or not. Hardy ordered that the crew empty a large water barrel; and filling it with brandy captured from the French, placed Nelson's body in it and sealed the lid. Thus pickling him, until they reached Portsmouth three months later, and Nelson was given a State Funeral that has only been matched since by that of Winston Churchill and Princess Dianna.

Nelson was looked upon as a national hero, and although they called it the 'English' Navy (because it was funded by the King himself from his own pocket) he and his trusty men -who thought he was a brilliant leader- saved us all from eating garlic and speaking French for ever more!

So there you have it.  His ship, "H.M.S. Victory" is still in commission in the Royal Navy, but of course it can no longer put to sea or it would sink. It is permantly propped up with English oak beams in its own dry dock in the Royal Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth, and has a volunteer crew of retired Royal Navy personnel looking after it.

 I've been aboard, and boy, those guys must have been small! The clearance below decks is about four feet six inches!!  I was doubled up most of the time below decks, and I tell you there is no way I could have survived in that crew, at six feet five inches tall.

The whole ship looks as good today as it was in Nelson's time, maybe even better, for they spent around 5 Million GBP refitting and refurbishing it over five years, back in the sixties.




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