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200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar
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"The Fall of Nelson" Isle of Man Stamps


200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar –Issue date 9th January 2005
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 history

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 in Egypt.

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 Danes.

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.

Acknowledgement
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

Technical Details:

Design Eddie Cassidy, Mannin Design
Paintings National Maritime Museum
Printer TBA
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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