A Celebratory Top Fifteen Facts for Trafalgar Day on the 21st October
The 21st October is Trafalgar Day; a celebration of the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar on the 21st October 1805, and the triumph of Admiral Horatio Nelson who lay dying as news of his victory was brought to him.
- The title of “flag ship” meant that H.M.S Victory was the home of an Admiral (Nelson) in command of the whole fleet.
- At the Battle of Trafalgar Nelson was in command of the fleet but Hardy was captain of H.M.S Victory.
- The label of “first rate” ship meant that H.M.S Victory had an extra gun deck and 100 guns or more.
- Toilets on ships are still called “heads” as they were in Nelson’s time because of their position at the bow or head of the ship. In Nelson’s time they were boards over holes open to the waves below.
- The “poop” deck is at the rear of a ship and comes from the Latin “puppis” meaning rear.
- Captain Hardy was six-foot four inches tall (193 cm) which must have caused some headaches.
- Nelson’s secretary John Scott was killed by Nelson’s side in the battle and his body was thrown overboard. Nelson was fatally shot shortly after, but his body was preserved in a barrel of brandy and brought back to England for a State Funeral. Only two other non-Royals have been granted the same honour: Sir Winston Churchill and Sir Isaac Newton.
- The Battle of Trafalgar began at midday and was over by 4.30 that afternoon.
- The well-trained crews were a significant factor in securing victory at Trafalgar loading, aiming and firing their guns in just 90 seconds.
- Sailors ate 5000 calories a day in their “mess” which was a group of eight men.
- Nelson chose to sleep in a convertible campaign bed; fiercely proud and independent but with only one arm he could climb in and out without assistance which would have been more of a challenge with a hammock.
- The guns aboard ship took their names from the size of the iron shot they used, and bar shots (two balls joined by an iron bar) designed to cut through rigging could slice a man’s head clean from his body.
- Nelson was a workaholic completing seven hours of paperwork on the 29th September 1805 which was his 47th
- The Admiral’s Day Cabin on the victory is a wooden panelled room with private toilet facilities, but all is not what it seems as it contains hidden gun ports and all the panelling could be dismantled when the ship was made war ready.
- Today the Victory is a blaze of colour as she would have been at the time of the Battle of Trafalgar. This has been made possible by the analysis of paint layers to establish her true colours at the time.Check out my article on the Mary Rose – I would love to hear your comments.