Royal Navy marks 212th anniversary of Battle of Trafalgar

The Royal Navy marked the 212th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar with a ceremony held aboard HMS Victory in Portsmouth, on October 21.

Beginning with the daily naval ceremony of ‘Colours’, the White Ensign of the Royal Navy and the Union Jack were hauled up, followed shortly afterwards by the flag sequence indicating Nelson’s famous message to the Fleet that “England expects that every man will do his duty”.

Admiral Lord Nelson commanded the British fleet from his flagship, HMS Victory, in a battle which changed the course of British history and sealed the country’s dominion of the seas for a hundred years.

Only an hour into the Battle, Nelson was hit by a French sharpshooters’ musket ball as he paced Victory’s quarterdeck. He fell, fatally wounded, on a spot now marked by a polished brass plaque, which forms the centrepiece of the Trafalgar Day Ceremony.

The Ship’s Admiral in Charge, Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock OBE, and Second Sea Lord, laid a wreath on the plaque, in the poignant ceremony led by the Reverend John Bridges Royal Navy.

Vice Admiral Woodcock said:

“It is an honour and a privilege to take part in the 212th Trafalgar Day Ceremony. A tradition, which not only celebrates our victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, but remembers and acknowledges the ultimate sacrifice that Admiral Nelson and the sailors who fought with him made. We must also not forget the sailors and marines deployed around the world today, most notably our recent commitment to provide disaster relief to our overseas territories in the wake of hurricane Irma.”

Lieutenant Commander BJ Smith, HMS Victory’s 101st Commanding Officer, was proud to play a key role in the ceremony.

He said: “Being in command of HMS Victory is a huge privilege and Trafalgar Day is the most important day in our calendar. Having greatly admired Admiral Nelson since childhood it is a great honour to take a lead role in the Trafalgar Day Service. It is a poignant and significant event when we remember the courage of Admiral Nelson, our greatest naval hero but also remember the sacrifice of many hundreds of men on both sides.

“Trafalgar Day remains relevant today to the modern Royal Navy as we continue to maintain Nelson’s legacy to this maritime nation, protecting our interests across the globe. As we honour Nelson and the heroes of Trafalgar, we also remember our fellow servicemen and women serving in today’s Royal Navy and Royal Marines.”

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