ADMIRAL Lord Nelson’s famous signal ‘England Expects’ fluttered overhead in the wind as a wreath was laid on the deck of his flagship, HMS Victory.
It marked the spot where he was fatally shot during the Battle of Trafalgar.
The Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral David Steel laid it during a ceremony to mark the 207th Trafalgar Day yesterday.
Further wreaths were laid below on the orlop deck, where Nelson died, by Victory’s commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Rod Strathern and Royal Marine Brigadier David King.
Lt-Cdr Strathern said: ‘We remember Admiral Lord Nelson himself, the man and the leader, and also those who fell with him.
‘It’s a battle which changed the course of British history.
‘They helped shape the way we conduct ourselves today. I’m incredibly proud as Victory’s 100th commanding officer to be here today.’
The anniversary coincided with the annual Seafarers’ Service, held at Portsmouth’s Anglican Cathedral.
The sea cadet band led a short procession of the city’s dignitaries as well as the mayors of Fareham, Gosport and Havant, from the Royal Naval Club in Pembroke Road, to the cathedral in High Street.
The Rev David Potterton, chaplain for the Sailors’ Society, gave an address in which he reflected on the changing shape of the country’s navy and merchant navy, as well as shipbuilding and related industries. And he asked the congregation to support those who make the difficult decision to spend months away from their families.
After the service, there was a further procession to the Nelson Memorial in Old Portsmouth, where wreaths were laid and Nelson’s Prayer was read.
Finally, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, councillor Frank Jonas cast a wreath into the water, symbolising the close ties between the city and the sea.
Robert Adams, chief executive of the Sailors Society said: ‘It’s absolutely vital that we remember. If we forget our heritage, we will regret it.’
Lynn New, 62, from Seaview on the Isle of Wight was the partner of Brian Patterson, a former curator at the Historic Dockyard, who died in February of asbestosis.
She added: ‘Brian was a shipwright, and we are remembering all those who put everything together, then lost their lives in making those ships.
‘The service was very emotional.’