Five facts about the Battle of Trafalgar
IT WAS a battle that cemented British naval superiority for a century and prevented an invasion of the United Kingdom.
As as the nation mark’s the 211th anniversary of the death of Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafagar here are five key facts about the decisive victory.
1) The Battle
There were 27 ships under the command of Admiral Nelson when he went against the stronger combined French and Spanish armada of 33 vessels.
After the five-hour battle, the French and Spanish had lost 22 ships and suffered at least 3,000 deaths, while the British lost 500 sailors – but not a single ship.
2) The British fleet
There were more than 18,000 men who served in the British fleet at Trafalgar including nearly 3,000 marines, against almost 30,000 French and Spanish sailors.
The British fleet was a multi-national force with almost 10 per cent of its force, some 1,400 men, coming from 25 countries outside the British Isles. This included 58 Frenchmen.
The battle was fought off Cape Trafalgar in Spain. The name Trafalgar comes from the Arabic for cape of the west or cape of the cave.
4) The base of Victory
To build the Nelson’s iconic flagship, HMS Victory, 6,000 oaks and elms were felled with some 26 miles of rope and rigging used for her three masts. The ship had a crew of 821 men.
5) Death of a hero
Lord Admiral Nelson was hit by a French sharpshooter from the ship Redoubtable at 1.15pm – more than an hour into the battle.
The musket ball passed through his left shoulder and a lung and lodged in his spine. He was rushed below and was later told of the fleet’s victory. Upon hearing the news, he said: ‘Thank God, I have done my duty.’
He died at 4.30pm.