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Royal Navy marks Trafalgar Day onboard HMS Victory

Royal Navy marks Trafalgar Day onboard HMS Victory
23 October 2023
HMS VICTORY is the oldest commissioned warship in the world and is the Flagship of the Head of the Naval Service, Admiral Sir Ben Key KCB CBE ADC.

Trafalgar Day is the most important day in VICTORY’s calendar and Saturday 21st October saw a ceremony held onboard VICTORY, marking the 218th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, a battle which changed the course of our history as a nation, and which sealed British dominion of the seas for a hundred years.

The day started with the daily naval ceremony of ‘Colours’, as the White Ensign of the Royal Navy and the Union Jack are hauled up, followed shortly afterwards by the flag sequence indicating Nelson’s famous message to the Fleet that “England expects that every man will do his duty” (Nelson’s final signal, as the mighty ships of the line of the Royal Navy and the combined Franco –Spanish Fleet clashed was “Engage the enemy more closely”).

Nelson’s tactical genius in splitting the line of enemy ships had already set the pre-conditions for victory, when only an hour into the Battle, Nelson was hit by a French sharpshooters’ musket ball as he paced VICTORY’s quarterdeck, directing the Battle. He fell, fatally wounded, on a spot marked by a lovingly polished brass plaque, which now forms the centrepiece of the Trafalgar Day Ceremony, when the Ship’s Admiral in Charge, Vice Admiral Martin Connell CBE, and Second Sea Lord, lays a wreath on the Plaque, in the ceremony led by the Chaplain of the Fleet, the Venerable Andrew Hillier KHC.

Lieutenant Commander BJ Smith, VICTORY’s 101st Commanding Officer was hugely proud to play a key role in the Ceremony.

He said: “Being the Commanding Officer of HMS VICTORY is a huge privilege and Trafalgar Day is the most important day in our calendar. Having greatly admired Nelson since childhood it is a great honour to take a lead role in the Trafalgar Day Service. 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. Trafalgar Day remains relevant today to the modern Royal Navy as we continue to maintain Nelson’s legacy to this maritime nation, protecting our interests across the globe. As we honour Nelson and the heroes of Trafalgar, we also remember our fellow servicemen and women serving in today’s Royal Navy and Royal Marines”.

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