Saturday 21 October 2023

Trafalgar Day


Trafalgar Day

All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

                                    HMS Victory,  Portsmouth

On October 21st 1805 the combined French and Spanish fleets were defeated by the Royal Navy at Cape Trafalgar, off the coast of South West Spain, HMS Victory, the flagship of Horatio Nelson, led the attack. Victory is the oldest commissioned warship in the world and is preserved at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, in Hampshire, UK.

Admiral Lord Nelson, born 29.09.1758, Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, the 6th of 11 children. He suffered from seasickness throughout his naval career.
Painting by John Whichelo (1784-1865)

The Battle of Trafalgar was Admiral Lord Nelson’s greatest victory and the setting for his death. He was hit by a musket shot from a French marksman one hour into the battle. He died in the knowledge that the fleet commanded by him had achieved a remarkable victory over the numerically superior French and Spanish fleets.

Every year a service of remembrance is conducted on board HMS Victory to honour England’s greatest naval leader and those on both sides of the conflict who died that day or from their injuries in the days and weeks that followed. The day begins with the usual daily ceremony of ‘Colours’ when the White Ensign and the Union Jack are hoisted. 

The White Ensign is worn on Royal Navy ships and shore establishments. 
The Union Jack  

On Trafalgar Day this is followed by Nelson's famous flag signal, 'England expects that every man will do his duty'. (His final signal was 'Engage the enemy more closely').

During the service a wreath is laid on the brass plaque marking the spot where he fell as he paced the quarterdeck while directing the battle.
On Trafalgar Night commissioned Royal Navy officers commemorate the victory with a dinner in the Officers’ Mess. A speech is made by the guest of honour, finishing with the toast, ‘The immortal memory of Lord Nelson and those who fell with him’. The Nelson Toast is made standing up and drunk in complete silence at Trafalgar Night dinners across the world. Traditionally, naval toasts are made when seated because William IV had banged his head while standing for a toast and thereafter authorised all naval personnel to remain seated for the Loyal Toast.


  1. HMS Victory almost looks big enough to be a cruise liner.

  2. Very clever, those flag signals. I love that last little anecdote - it made me smile. xx

    1. Raising a flag signal must have taken quite some time. x x

  3. If yer gonna die...what better way, than saying....
    "Kiss me, Hardy". Another statement during his
    last hours was, "Thank God I have done my duty."
    Alternatively, he may have said both of these
    statements; "Kiss me, Hardy" and Hardy kissed
    him on the cheek...
    Then Nelson said, "Now I am satisfied....

    Wonder what my hero Napoleon's last words were,
    best go and Google it....
    His last words, uttered shortly before he expired
    around 5.59pm local time were relayed back...
    “La France, l'armée, tête d'armée, Joséphine …”
    (France, the army, head of the army, Joséphine)...
    He was 51.....! (Thankyou Google)....
    🍾 🍾 🍾 🍾 🍾 🍾🍾 🍾 🍾 🍾 🍾 🍾🍾 🍾

  4. Here in Portsmouth it's a big day, I used to work in the naval base and it was celebrated every year.

    1. I used to love 'Navy Days' but that was in Chatham, when the navy and marines were still there.

  5. They don't build them like that anymore, that's for sure! xxx

    1. It's a beautiful ship and very interesting to visit.

  6. That's funny about everyone having to sit down during the toast.

  7. It runs counter to everything we expect.

  8. We used to participate in Trafalgar dinner every year when I first lived in UK but haven't been to one for years.


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