Don visited Portsmouth Naval Base and went aboard HMS Victory, the oldest commissioned warship in the world. Victory was Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson’s flagship, in fact, he was fatally wounded on her deck during the Battle of Trafalgar, roughly 200 years ago.
Victory was ordered in 1758, the same year that Nelson was born. She was designed by Thomas Slade, the Senior Surveyor of the Navy, and the keel was laid at Chatham Dockyard in 1759. To build the ship, 2000 mature trees were needed, so around 100 acres of forest were cleared. Victory has 46 kilometres (26 miles) of rigging and 4 acres of sails. For the Battle of Trafalgar, Victory had 104 cannons and a crew of 821 men. The original fore topsail used at the Battle of Trafalgar still exists today, complete with around 90 shot holes caused by guns fired from French and Spanish ships.
Victory was launched on May 7, 1765, but placed in reserve for 13 years. By February, 1778, she was finally fitted out and commissioned for sea service. She became Admiral Keppel’s flagship, and her first captain, Sir John Lindsay, took command on March 9, 1778. She saw constant service from 1778 until 1812.
Battle of Trafalgar
On October 21, 1805, the British fleet of 27 ships faced the enemy’s 33 ships (18 French/15 Spanish) at Cape Trafalgar, off the coast of Spain. At 12 o’clock the leading British ships forced their way through the enemy line. Nelson was hit in the chest by a French musket ball at about 1.15pm. He was taken to the Orlop deck – this was where men wounded in battle were taken for treatment, often meaning amputation of limbs without anaesthetic. (Nelson had his right arm amputated at Tenerife in 1797). At around 3pm the French/Spanish line started to give way. 57 crew members of the Victory were killed and 102 wounded in the conflict. Nelson died at 4.30pm, happy in the knowledge that the battle had been won and Napoleon had been defeated.
Would you like to build a model of the HMS Victory? Burke’s Backyard has two models to give away: a full-sized wooden kit for adults, and a small plastic Revell kit for kids. If you would like one of the models, write to the address below and tell us why you think you deserve to have one! Please ensure we receive your entry by Wednesday 15 September. Due to the large amount of entries we will now be announcing the winner on Friday 1 October.
PO Box 929
Crows Nest 1585
Visitors to Portsmouth Historic Dockyards can see Admiral Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory, as well the Tudor warship Mary Rose and Queen Victoria’s warship HMS Warrior. For further details visit: www.portsmouth-uk.com