Trafalgar Day remembered on board HMS Victory

Today marks the 212th 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 ceremony took place onboard HMS Victory, the oldest commissioned warship in the world and is the Flagship of the Head of the Naval Service, Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC.

Beginning with the daily naval ceremony of ‘Colours’, the White Ensign of the Royal Navy and the Union Jack were 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”.

This tradition may be steeped in over 200 years’ worth of history, but was brought it into the 21st century by live streaming it for the first time ever on the Royal Navy’s Facebook page, YouTube and Twitter.

Only an hour into the Battle, Nelson was hit by a French sharpshooters’ musket ball as he paced Victory's quarterdeck. He fell, fatally wounded, on a spot now marked by a polished brass plaque, which forms the centrepiece of the Trafalgar Day Ceremony.

The Ship’s Admiral in Charge, Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock OBE, and Second Sea Lord, laid a wreath on the plaque, in the poignant ceremony led by the Reverend John Bridges Royal Navy.

We must also not forget the sailors and marines deployed around the world today, most notably our recent commitment to provide disaster relief to our overseas territories in the wake of hurricane Irma.

Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock OBE

Vice Admiral Woodcock said:

“It is an honour and a privilege to take part in the 212th Trafalgar Day Ceremony. A tradition, which not only celebrates our victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, but remembers and acknowledges the ultimate sacrifice that Admiral Nelson and the sailors who fought with him made.  We must also not forget the sailors and marines deployed around the world today, most notably our recent commitment to provide disaster relief to our overseas territories in the wake of hurricane Irma.”

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

He said: “Being in command of HMS Victory is a huge privilege and Trafalgar Day is the most important day in our calendar. Having greatly admired Admiral 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 Admiral 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.”