Trafalgar Day 21st October

Lord Nelson's Victory

Lord Nelson - Trafalgar Day 21st October

'England expects that every man will do his duty.'  Horatio Nelson Trafalgar Day celebrates the victory won by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson's British fleet over the combined French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805.  Sadly, it also commemorates his death on that same day. The famous battle took place off Cape Trafalgar, Cadiz, Spain.  It was a crucial victory for the British Navy in the Napoleonic wars.

Topics for Trafalgar Day

The Legend of Nelson Turning a Blind Eye

The 'Blind Eye' incident occurred at the battle of Copenhagen on 2 April 1801.  At a critical stage of the action, the commander of the British fleet, Admiral Sir Hyde Parker II signalled to Nelson that he should break off the attack.  Nelson refused and later remarked, that he had a blind eye and sometimes had a right to use it. Later Hyde Parker II (there were all dynasty of naval Parkers) recognised that had Nelson obeyed the order then his ships would have been endangered to counter-attack.

More Interesting Facts About Nelson and Trafalgar Day

  • Trafalgar Day was widely commemorated by parades, dinners and other events throughout much of the British Empire in the 19th centuries.
  • When Will attended the Royal Hospital School [RHS], Holbrook, Suffolk, in the late 50's and early 60's, a special Trafalgar 'duff' [pudding/dessert] was always served at dinner on 21st October each year.
  • Nelson was also famous or infamous for his affair with Lady Emma Hamilton.  They had a daughter who was named Horatia, which confirmed that Nelson was indeed her father.
  • The name Horatio is probably derived from the Latin name Horatius. As with many famous generals, Horatio Nelson inspired parents to name their sons after the victorious general.  Other variations include, Horace, Horacio, Horaz and Oratio.
  • Nelson's most inspirational quote was: 'England expects that every man will do his duty'.  However he has left us other quotes which stand the test of time, most notably: 'Desperate affairs require desperate measures'. 'First gain the victory and then make the best use of it you can'. 'Gentlemen, when the enemy is committed to a mistake we must not interrupt him too soon'.

Nelson Back at Work Half an Hour After Losing His ArmNelson loses arm

Lord Nelson was apparently back at work giving orders 30 minutes after his arm was amputated.  A collection of 1,200 naval journals, not seen for 200 years, depicts life on board British fighting vessels, including details of medical treatment given to Nelson. Researchers at the National Archives in Kew, London, have gathered personal accounts written by surgeons at sea, Will and Guy have discovered. Among the documents, is a handful of journals describing the remarkable speed and skill with which medics nursed Nelson back to health from surgery - twice. It's claimed that within 30 minutes of having his right arm cut off, Nelson was again issuing orders to his men. He had been hit in the right arm by a musket ball shortly after stepping ashore on Tenerife in July 1797. Lord Nelson was taken to HMS Theseus for treatment. The ship's surgeon, James Farquhar, wrote in his journal, 'Compound fracture of the right arm by a musket ball passing thro a little above the elbow; an artery divided; the arm was immediately amputated.' On 1 August, Farquhar noted, 'Admiral Nelson; amputated arm; continued getting well very fast. Stump looked well; no bad symptoms whatever occurred... The sore reduced to the size of a shilling in perfect good health, one of the ligatures not come away.' A year later, Lord Nelson was shot in the head at the Battle of the Nile. The surgeon's log of HMS Vanguard claims he was discharged from the ship's hospital after only one month.

Will and Guy's Favourite Five Horatio Nelson Quotes

1. England expects that every man will do his duty. 2. Desperate affairs require desperate measures. 3. Gentlemen, when the enemy is committed to a mistake we must not interrupt him too soon. 4. First gain the victory and then make the best use of it you can. 5. I could not tread these perilous paths in safety, if I did not keep a saving sense of humour.

Nelson's Column Trafalgar SquareNelson's Column

Following Nelson's victory at Trafalgar 1805, in 1843 Nelson's Column, designed by William Railton, was erected in London to commemorate both the victory and his death and still can be seen today in Trafalgar Square. The Square is a site of major significant historic interest and its monuments and statues also have individual heritage classifications. New Year's celebrations are held here each year at midnight. Incidentally, Trafalgar Square was pedestrianised in 2008, and this has proved to be a huge success for people appreciating the square and the famous statue of Nelson's column. The Dolphin pub in Old Portsmouth, England, was reputedly a haunt of Lord Nelson. Will and Guy have learned that he drank there apparently before setting off to defeat the Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar in 1805. The pub, one of Portsmouth's oldest is incidentally is only a cannon shot from Will's local - The Duke of Buckingham, is in the High Street, and claims to have a glass window upon which is Nelson's signature. This glass has been signed by many dignitaries of the time with a diamond type stylus. The present manager, Mr Paul Goldthorpe is to display the window for viewing in the pub. Naval Service MedalNelson's Column A rare medal awarded to a Royal Marine who lay wounded alongside Lord Nelson at Trafalgar has gone on display marking Trafalgar Day The Naval General Service Medal was awarded to Lt Lewis Buckle Reeve, who was on board the Admiral Nelson's HMS Victory in the battle in October 1805. Lt Reeve, born in nearby East Meon, was treated by Nelson's surgeon; he survived to fight again, retiring in 1817. He died in 1861, aged 75. This medal is a rare reminder of the role played by a Royal Marines Officer, only one of four on board Victory, alongside Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar.  You can see his medal may at the Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth, England.

HMS Victory Repair Work to Begin in Portsmouth, EnglandHMS Victory - Trafalgar Day

Will and Guy have learned that a recent survey on HMS Victory revealed that it was leaking, suffering from rot and was being pulled apart by its own weight. HMS Victory is the world's oldest commissioned warship. Major restoration work is about to begin on HMS Victory - the warship on which Admiral Lord Nelson was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The ship is on display in a dry dock in Portsmouth, England as a museum and is one of the area's main tourist attractions

Trafalgar Day Parade

More than 400 Sea Cadets from across Britain took part in an annual parade to commemorate the death of Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.  In fact the Trafalgar Day march has taken place for more than 100 years, by tradition it is held on the Sunday closest to October 21. The cadets marched from The Mall to Trafalgar Square where the Commander-in-Chief Fleet, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, took the salute. In 2010 the the Sea Cadets will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the uniformed youth groups.

Nicholas Pocock Painting of HMS VictoryHMS Victory

Trafalgar Day is less important to people nowadays as it is felt that so many deaths resulted from the battle that Armistice Day, Veterans Day and Poppy Day should commemorate all military losses on Remembrance Sunday. Nelson's Flagship - HMS Victory HMS Victory - Nelson's Flagship Also to be viewed in the UK's premier naval city is Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory. Admiral Horatio Nelson's HMS Victory was launched in 1765, played a decisive role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and now sits in dry dock at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Nelson and Hardy - Famous Conversation

Here is a 'politically correct' [PC] and humorous version of an imaginary conversation between Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson and Captain of the Fleet, Thomas Hardy. Scene: The Atlantic Ocean, off Trafalgar, south of Cadiz. Admiral Nelson is about to engage the French and Spanish ships: Nelson: 'Order the signal, Hardy.' Hardy: 'Aye, aye sir.' Nelson: 'Hold on, that's not what I dictated to Flags. What's the meaning of this?' Hardy: 'Sorry sir?' Nelson [reading aloud]: 'England expects every person to do his or her duty, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious persuasion or disability.' What gobbledegook is this?' Hardy: 'Admiralty policy, I'm afraid, sir. We're an equal opportunities employer now. We had the devil's own job getting 'England...' past the censors, lest it be considered racist.' Nelson: 'Gadzooks, Hardy. Hand me my pipe and tobacco.' Hardy: 'Sorry sir. All naval vessels have now been designated smoke-free working environments.' Nelson: 'In that case, break open the rum ration. Let us splice the mainbrace to steel the men before battle.' Hardy: 'The rum ration has been abolished, Admiral. It's part of the Government's policy on binge drinking.' Nelson: 'Good heavens, Hardy. I suppose we'd better get on with it .............. full speed ahead.' Hardy: 'I think you'll find that there's a 4 knot speed limit in this stretch of water.' Nelson: 'Damn it man! We are on the eve of the greatest sea battle in history. We must advance with all dispatch. Report from the crow's nest please.' Hardy: 'That won't be possible, sir.' Nelson: 'What?' Hardy: 'Health and Safety have closed the crow's nest, sir. No harness; and they said that rope ladders don't meet regulations. They won't let anyone up there until a proper scaffolding can be erected.' Nelson: 'Then get me the ship's carpenter without delay, Hardy.' Hardy: 'He's busy knocking up a wheelchair access to the foredeck, Admiral.' Nelson: 'Wheelchair access? I've never heard anything so absurd.' Hardy: 'Health and safety again, sir. We have to provide a barrier-free environment for the differently abled.' Nelson: 'Differently abled? I've only one arm and one eye and I refuse even to hear mention of the word. I didn't rise to the rank of Admiral by playing the disability card.' Hardy: 'Actually, sir, you did. The Royal Navy is under represented in the areas of visual impairment and limb deficiency.' Nelson: 'Whatever next? Give me full sail. The salt spray beckons.' Hardy: 'A couple of problems there too, sir. Health and safety won't let the crew up the rigging without hard hats. And they don't want anyone breathing in too much salt - haven't you seen the adverts?' Nelson: 'I've never heard such infamy. Break out the cannon and tell the men to stand by to engage the enemy.' Hardy: 'The men are a bit worried about shooting at anyone, Admiral.' Nelson: 'What? This is mutiny!' Hardy: 'It's not that, sir. It's just that they're afraid of being charged with murder if they actually kill anyone. There's a couple of legal-aid lawyers on board, watching everyone like hawks.' Nelson: 'Then how are we to sink the Frenchies and the Spanish?' Hardy: 'Actually, sir, we're not.'Admiral Lord Nelson 21st October Trafalgar Day Nelson: 'We're not?' Hardy: 'No, sir. The French and the Spanish are our European partners now. According to the Common Fisheries Policy, we shouldn't even be in this stretch of water. We could get hit with a claim for compensation.' Nelson: 'But you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil.' Hardy: 'I wouldn't let the ship's diversity co-ordinator hear you saying that sir. You'll be up on disciplinary report.' Nelson: 'You must consider every man an enemy, who speaks ill of your King.' Hardy: 'Not any more, sir. We must be inclusive in this multicultural age. Now put on your Kevlar vest; it's the rules. It could save your life' Nelson: 'Don't tell me - health and safety. Whatever happened to rum, and the lash?' Hardy: As I explained, sir, rum is off the menu! And there's a total ban on all corporal punishment.' Nelson: 'Oh dear, In that case............................ kiss me, Hardy.'

Sailor Stories

In memory of the death of Horatio Nelson, and in honour of Trafalgar Day, Will and Guy have researched and re-written these short stories and jokes for you to enjoy.

When I Die

'Well,' snarled the tough old Royal Navy Chief to the bewildered able seaman. 'I suppose after you get discharged from the Navy, you'll just be waiting for me to die so you can come and dance on my grave.' 'Not me, Chief,' the seaman replied. 'Once I get out of the Navy, I'm never going to stand in line again.'

The First Mate's Tale

Lieutenant Hardy, First Mate, was in a rare mood as he finished drilling the crew. He barked out a final order, 'All right, you idiots fall out.' The men fell out, but one sailor stood firm. The sailor stared at the First Mate and smiled, 'There were a lot of them weren't there sir?'

Don't Tell Anyone

Rear Admiral Craig fell overboard and was rescued by Solly, a deckhand. The officer asked the sailor how he could reward him. 'The best way, sir,' replied the *bluejacket, 'is to say nothing about it. If the other blokes knew I'd pulled you out, they'd throw me in.' *bluejacket = a term for an enlisted sailor in the US or Royal Navy


A rabbit's foot has been a symbol of good luck for a very long time. Even early sailors would carry one to keep them safe as they sailed. However, whole rabbit was a different story. Even when ships carried live chickens and other small animals for food on long journeys, rabbits were not ever brought. A live rabbit aboard a ship was sure to bring tragedy and death to all aboard.

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