Traditional ceremony on HMS Victory honours Trafalgar Day

Today’s Navy honoured the immortal memory of Admiral Nelson and his men who delivered Britain’s greatest triumph in the days of sail, 214 years ago.

Naval leaders gathered on HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship in 1805, to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar with a traditional ceremony of remembrance and thanksgiving.

So great was the defeat which the Royal Navy inflicted upon a combined, numerically-superior Franco-Spanish fleet off Cape Trafalgar that it ushered in a century of British naval supremacy.

With Nelson's famous signal 'England expects every man to do his duty' flying overhead, the Royal Navy remembered that victory and those who guaranteed it, as well as the enemy sailors killed in the action, living up to Nelson’s plea on the morning of Trafalgar for “humanity after victory”.

Among the casualties was Nelson himself, mortally wounded by a French sharpshooter early in the action; he remained conscious long enough for the captain of HMS Victory, Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy, to report: “My Lord, you have won the day.”

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.

Lieutenant Commander B J Smith,

Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Nick Hine laid a wreath on the brass plaque that marks the spot where Nelson fell during a ceremony led by Chaplain of the Fleet, the Venerable Martyn Gough.

Lieutenant Commander B J Smith, HMS Victory’s Commanding Officer said, "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.

"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”.