Trafalgar Day in Portsmouth marks the Royal Navy's greatest hero
HE IS the Royal Navy's greatest hero. And yesterday, sailors, children and dignitaries paid tribute to the incredible life of Admiral Lord Nelson.
Navy top brass gathered on the famed leader’s former flagship HMS Victory, in Portsmouth, to commemorate the 211th anniversary of his death at the Battle of Trafalgar.
A wreath was laid by the Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock, at the spot where Nelson was gunned down by a French sharpshooter, while senior officers stood in silence for a minute in salute of the naval leader.
Victory’s 101st commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander BJ Smith said the day was a vital one to remember.
‘It is a poignant and significant event when we remember the courage of Nelson, our greatest naval hero but also remember the sacrifice of many hundreds of men on both sides,’ he said.
The service was led by the Rev David Robinson. As well as top navy officers, there were representatives from Hampshire police, the naval base and pupils from Admiral Lord Nelson School.
Portsmouth’s Lord Mayor Councillor David Fuller attended.
Speaking after the 15-minute service, he said: ‘Admiral Lord Nelson was a true hero in every sense of the word and is loved in Portsmouth. So it’s right we gather to remember him over 200 years after he died.’
The Battle of Trafalgar was one of the Royal Navy’s most decisive victories.
The British fleet of 27 ships squared off against a combined force of 33 French and Spanish vessels off the Cape Trafalgar in Spain.
Despite being outnumbered, the British smashed through the enemy, destroying 22 ships.
The cost of victory was high. Some 1,700 British were killed or wounded, with 6,000 enemy casualties and nearly 20,000 prisoners.
Among those invited to yesterday’s ceremony included Year 11 Admiral Lord Nelson School pupils Ollie Kanavan, 15, Jordanna Osborn, 15, and Dixie Garbett, 15.
Ollie was honoured to be invited and said: ‘There are people who would give their lives for the country here so just standing here is quite emotional.’
Dixie added: ‘This is an important day for Portsmouth – it’s part of the city.’