England expects that every man will do his duty

21 October 2014

…..the signal sent from Admiral Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory before the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805, the most significant naval engagement of the Napoleonic Wars, establishing British supremacy at sea for many years thereafter. The British fleet, led by Lord Nelson (1758-1805), attacked an allied fleet of Spanish and French ships off Cape Trafalgar (east of Cádiz) with the intention of preventing them from passing through the Straits of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean. Nelson’s tactics outwitted the commander of the Spanish and French fleet, Villeneuve (1763-1806), and the British won the day.

At the height of the battle, a musket shot fatally wounded Lord Nelson and his illustrious career was brought to an untimely end. As he lay dying in the cockpit of the HMS Victory, frequent reports on the progress of the battle were brought to him by Captain Thomas Hardy. His last request was said to be ‘Kiss me Hardy’ before he died with the words, ‘Now I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty.’ I think perhaps these words did not relate directly to kissing Captain Hardy but who knows….

Trafalgar Square in London, dominated by Nelson’s Column, commemorates the British victory at the Battle of Trafalgar and today is celebrated as Trafalgar Day with parades and other ceremonies.

There are dozens, possibly hundreds, of plaques around the United Kingdom (and further afield) commemorating Lord Nelson in various ways from his birthplace to where he lived in 1798!

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