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Home / News / Talk: 'The Battle of Trafalgar' by Dave Allport (27 Oct 2023)
Home / News / Talk: 'The Battle of Trafalgar' by Dave Allport (27 Oct 2023)
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Talk: 'The Battle of Trafalgar' by Dave Allport (27 Oct 2023)

Published 10:56 on 30 Oct 2023

Once again HYC and Hornet SSC members were treated by Dave Allport to a talk, this time about the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. There was time for us to meet up for a drink and supper before the talk began.

Dave prepares his presentations with a lot of care, researching and planning the material, and interspersing slides with short videos. After retiring from the Navy, he spent 11 years working for QHM during which he has also developed and delivered 11 different talks of nautical interest. This was the fourth to HYC, and arguably he saved the best to last.

We first learnt a bit about the building of the Victory at Chatham, predominantly of oak taken from the New Forest. Unbelievably, her topsides are two feet thick!

He talked about the people, notably Nelson, whose life, loves and death ran through much of the presentation, first going to sea as a midshipman at 12 years old, a first command at 21, the loss of an eye and his arm, and his death finally during the battle aged 47. He talked about some of the other notables, his friend Admiral Collingwood, who would take command after Nelsons death, Captain Hardy, skipper of the Victory, and their subsequent careers rising to the top of the naval heirarchy. .

We were shown how sailors lived, from the square plates that gave rise to a square meal, and the instruments that the surgeons of the day used to perform amputations in as little as 90 seconds! He described the roles played by the cook, the signallers, the powder monkey, and the roles assigned to the gun crews.

Dave explained how Nelson was a perfectionist, drilling his fleet and preparing gun stations on both sides. Nelson had decided to cut the line of French and Spanish ships by sailing downwind and using the bow chasers to inflict damage as they approached, then coming up on the leeward side to engage at close quarters on the enemys starboard side, where they were not prepared.

Finally we heard about the voyage of HMS Pickle, to bring news of the victory to London, and how Nelsons body was preserved in a barrel of brandy in Gibraltar, where Victory had put in for repairs, until it could be brought back to England for burial.

The presentation ended with a slide show accompanied with stirring music, and Dave fielded some searching questions, particularly from some of the seasoned sailors in the audience.

John Walker

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Last updated 11:51 on 5 April 2024

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