Saturday, October 21, 2006

October 21: Battle of Trafalgar day

expects that every man will do his duty.

The battle of Trafalgar was 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, attacked an allied French and Spanish fleet off Cape Trafalgar with the intention of preventing them from passing through the straits of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean. Nelson’s tactics outwitted Villeneuve, commander of the French and Spanish fleet, and the British won the day.
Sadly, at the height of the battle, Nelson was fatally wounded by a musket shot and his illustrious career was brought to an untimely end. As he lay dying in the cockpit of the victory, Captain Thomas hardy brought him frequent reports on the progress of the battle. Finally Nelson is said to have uttered his last request, "kiss me hardy", and then to have died with the words, "now I am satisfied. Thank god, I have done my duty".
Some historians believe Nelson may have said "kismet hardy" (fate).
The famous "England expects..." signal, quoted above, was originally to have read "Nelson confides that every man will do his duty".”Nelson" was changed to "England" to make the message less personal, and "confides" was changed to "expects" for the simple reason of practicality and speed: "expects was a word in the signalling vocabulary that could be signalled with a single combination of flags, whereas "confides" would have had to be spelt out with eight single letter signals.

Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), a great British hero.

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