Battle of Trafalgar remembered
To mark the 213th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, the traditional Act of Remembrance was held within the Trafalgar Cemetery.
Commander Mark Savage OBE Royal Navy, Commanding Officer Royal Navy and Commander Stuart Lawrence Royal Navy Commanding Officer Joint Support Unit placed wreaths on the graves of those who died as a result of the Battle.
During the service, The Governor, Lieutenant General Edward Davis read the despatch from Admiral Collingwood to the then Lieutenant Governor which informed Gibraltar that Commander-in-Chief’ had died:
“Yesterday a Battle was fought by His Majesty’s Fleet, and a Victory gained, which will stand recorded as one of the most brilliant and decisive, that ever distinguished the British Navy…”
“Our loss has been great in Men; but what is irreparable, and the cause of Universal Lamentation, is the death of the Noble Commander-in-Chief who died in the arms of Victory; I have not yet any reports from the ships…”
This was followed by the preamble which was read by the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and reminded everyone that ‘for over two centuries the Fleets of the Royal Navy have gathered at Gibraltar for exercise and training in time of Peace. Here in time of War, the ships have assembled before sailing to face the dangers of the seas and the violence of the enemy.’
This year’s Trafalgar address was delivered by Commodore Tim Henry Royal Navy who said: “Many have heard about the unorthodox tactics where the British sought to break the enemy’s line.”
“It was a tactic high in risk – those lead ships forced to endure repeated broadsides without answer, their commanders knowing that a crippling blow might, at any time, stunt the advance of the entire formation.”
“But the risk was a calculated one; balancing the enemy’s poor seamanship and lack of battle experience against the ability of their British counterparts to rapidly achieve fire superiority once they could bring their guns to bear.”
“And a risk that brought with it huge reward once the British returned fire down the length of the French and Spanish ships, gun by gun as they came to bear, with devastating consequences to opposing ships and crews alike…We have chosen to come together in this place and pause our hectic lives to reflect on, and remember, the deeds of people we have never met but whose stories we think we know.”
“To remember those individuals from 58 nations that fought that day, to acknowledge the sacrifice of the 6000 or so that lost their lives on the day or in the days and weeks that followed.”
“Most were committed to the deep from the ships in which they served; two of those that perished are buried here in this cemetery. Many more, like the veterans of today, carried the memories and, for some, the physical and mental scars of the battle for the remainder of their lives.”
“Memories that can endure for a long time; such as for Joseph Sutherland, a young sailor in Nelson’s Fleet, aged 16 at Trafalgar, who died 85 years after the battle.”
The Command Chaplain, the Reverend Mike Wagstaff led the prayers and pronounced the Blessing. This was followed by the Last Post and Reveille and the first verse of the National Anthem.