200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar
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200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar –Issue date 9th
Isle of Man Post is pleased to present a set of 8 stamps which
capture the atmosphere and drama around Lord Nelson and the events of
the Battle of Trafalgar which marked a turning point in British naval
By 1798 Britain had been fighting the French revolutionary war for
five years with little success. One by one, her allies had been either
neutralized or defeated by a rejuvenated post revolution France.
However, unable to defeat Britain by sea, Napoleon had formulated a
strategy to establish military bases in Egypt to attack Britain's
vital trade in India. To counter this threat, the Royal Navy
dispatched Horatio Nelson to the Mediterranean, to seek out and
destroy the French fleet carrying Napoleon's Egyptian Expedition.
Born in 1758 Nelson had entered service with the Royal Navy at the age
of twelve. By twenty-one he had achieved the rank of post captain and
in 1798 was one of Britain's youngest admirals on the Navy list.
However, his rise through the ranks and his eagerness to be at the
forefront in action had left Nelson with the loss of his right arm and
sight from his right eye.
After a long search and chase across the Mediterranean sea, Nelson
found the French fleet at anchor off Aboukir Bay, near the mouth of
the Nile, on the 1st August 1798. Although almost evening, Nelson
attacked at once. A fierce action ensued which culminated with the
French Flagship, L'Orient exploding with such force that it
temporarily silenced both the British and French guns. The victory was
complete. Of the thirteen French ships, nine were captured or sunk
without the loss of one British ship. At a stroke Nelson had restored
British dominance in the Mediterranean and ended Napoleon's ambitions
After the Nile action, Nelson brought part of the British fleet to
Naples. It was here that he met, fell in love and began his passionate
affair with Emma Hamilton. The affair was to last all of his life and
after Nelson's separation from his wife, they lived together at their
country house in Merton and had a daughter, Horatia.
Nelson returned to Britain in 1800, a national hero, and was created a
Baron, Lord Nelson of Bronte. In 1801 he was sent to the Baltic, under
Lord Hyde Parker, to suppress the intended armed coalition of Russia,
Denmark and Sweden. On the 2nd April, Nelson lead an attack on the
floating and standing defences at Copenhagen. At the height of the
battle, Hyde Parker, fearing the Danish defences too strong, ordered a
withdrawal. Nelson ignored the signal by placing the telescope to his
blind eye stating, "I have a right to be blind sometimes. I see no
signal". Nelson fought on and forced a negotiated truce from the
Nelson had now established himself as one Britain's most successful
fighting admirals. However, it was not merely his success in battle
that made him popular amongst those that served with him. It was his
particular attention to the welfare, training and trust that was
placed in both his officers and men that gave exceptional inspiration
to those about him. His captains became his "band of brothers" knowing
instinctively what was required of them.
Following the failure of the treaty of Amiens 1803, Britain was once
more under threat of invasion. Nelson, now a Vice Admiral, was again
sent to the Mediterranean. After a long chase across the Atlantic and
back, Nelson's final battle came on the 21st of October 1805, off Cape
Trafalgar. He attacked the combined fleet of France and Spain in two
columns. The battle was decisive. Twenty of the thirty-three enemy
ships were either taken or sunk. Whilst pacing the deck on his
flagship, Victory, at approximately 1.15pm, a musket ball, fired from
the French 74, Redoubtable, struck Nelson. . The wound was fatal. He
was carried below and died just after 4.30pm on hearing news that the
battle was won. His final words were, "Thank God I have done my duty".
Nelson was buried at St Paul's cathedral on 9th January 1806. His body
had lain in state at Greenwich where thousands came to pay their final
respects. A huge procession up the Thames saw his body conveyed to the
Admiralty. Sailors who had fought with him on board Victory, pulled
his coffin on a carriage through crowded mournful streets, to his
final resting place at St Paul's.
Trafalgar is possibly the most famous sea battle ever fought but it
had more significance than just a victory over an enemy fleet. It
established Britain as the dominant sea power for the next century and
laid the foundations for a confidence in the Royal Navy that still
exists to the present day. Nelson practiced the initiative of taking
full advantage of every situation. His tactics were revolutionary and
his objectives were always the same; total victory over the enemy but
with humanity. His reputation not only inspired the men he served
with, but a whole nation during his life and generations of naval
officers and seamen since his death. Nelson had become the Royal
Navy's Immortal Memory and secured his place in European history.
Isle of Man Post would like to express their sincere thanks to the
National Maritime Museum Greenwich London for their invaluable
assistance in the preparation of this stamp issue. During the course
of 2005 they will host a wide range of events to commemorate the
events of 1805 including their main exhibition “Nelson and Napoleon”
Contact details For more information please telephone 020 8858 4422 or
020 8312 6565(recorded information line). Web site
www.nmm.org.uk and ISLE OF MAN
POST web site www.iompost.com
Design Eddie Cassidy, Mannin Design
Paintings National Maritime Museum
Text Mr David Taylor, National Maritime Museum
Stamp Size 28 x 42
Format setenent pairs ,4 sets per sheet
Colours 4 plus metallic
Process offset lithography
Perforations 14 per 2cms
Paper 102gms PVA gummed
No. of Stamps 8
Issue Date 9th January 2005
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