Fury as vandals deface Nelson’s Column on anniversary of Trafalgar win

  • The vandalism was branded ‘disgraceful’ by a former head of the Royal Navy  

Vandals have ignited fury after defacing Nelson’s Column on the anniversary of the naval hero’s famous victory over the French at the Battle of Trafalgar, in a move branded ‘disgraceful’ by an Admiral.

Yobs graffitied the base of the historic London monument – as navy sailors across the world marked Trafalgar Day honouring Nelson’s legendary win over Napoleon’s forces in 1805.

News of the Trafalgar Square vandalism was revealed by the Metropolitan Police this morning and sparked fury from patriotic Brits. 

Admiral Lord Alan West, the former head of the Royal Navy, was outraged by the ‘disgraceful behaviour’. 

‘Nelson was a very great man who saved the country from invasion by a ruthless dictator and autocrat. He isn’t just a naval hero, he is a national hero,’ the retired naval chief raged. 

Vandals graffitied the bottom of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, London

The attack comes on the anniversary of the naval hero's 1805 victory over the French at the Battle of Trafalgar

Admiral Lord Alan West, the former head of the Royal Navy, was outraged by the 'disgraceful behaviour' (pictured is Nelson at the top of the column)

‘These sad people vandalising his column show a lack of knowledge of our history and of our nation. It’s a great shame.’

News of the vandalism provoked fury on social media. Writing on X, formerly Twitter, James Coats said: ‘Outrageous! Lord Nelson would be rolling in his grave!’

Another person wrote: ‘It’s Trafalgar Day today too, of all days! Absolute disgrace. Hopefully one of the many cctv installations will pick up the vandal.’ 

 A third person, sharing a photo of the famed naval leader Lord Nelson, added: ‘Today….Is Trafalgar Day. This is appalling-and might well incite violence it ex HM Forces personnel witnessed someone doing it.’

While a fourth raged: ‘Makes my blood boil, can’t even respect national monuments the barbarians.’

Tweeting a picture of the vandalism, the Met Police said: ‘Disappointingly, someone has decided to graffiti Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square overnight. We’re confident this is a tag and that it has nothing to do with today’s protests.

‘Our counterparts at the Greater London Authority are arranging for it to be cleaned up quickly.’

The Battle of Trafalgar took place on October 21, 1805, during the Napoleonic War, as French tyrant Napoleon Bonaparte and his armies tried to conquer Europe. 

The Met Police said the graffiti would be cleared of Nelson's Column as soon as possible (file picture)

Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson, commanding the British fleet, ambushed the joint Franco-Spanish fleet off the Cape of Trafalgar, in south-west Spain. 

The British fleet was outnumbered, the enemy totalling nearly 30,000 men and 2632 guns to Nelson’s 18,000 men and 2,148 guns. 

Despite his fleet of 27 warships being outnumbered, Nelson’s ambition assault paved the way to a decisive British victory. 

A total of 449 British sailors were killed and 1,217 wounded. French and Spanish losses were heavier: 4,408 were dead, 2,545 wounded and some 20,000 taken prisoner. 

Lord Nelson, who was shot while on the deck of the British flagship HMS Victory, died after being shot by a sniper. 

Nelson’s column was built in 1843 to commemorate naval leader’s death.

Battle of Trafalgar: Epic sea clash that laid foundations for Britain’s global power – and claimed the life of Lord Admiral Nelson

 Nelson's (above) triumph at Trafalgar gave Britain control of the seas and laid the foundation for Britain's global power for more than a century

Fought on October 21, 1805, the Battle of Trafalgar is one of history’s most epic sea clashes.

Not only did it see Britain eliminate the most serious threat to security in 200 years, but it also saw the death of British naval hero Admiral Lord Nelson.

This was not before his high-risk, but acutely brave strategy won arguably the most decisive victory in the Napoleonic wars. Nelson’s triumph gave Britain control of the seas and laid the foundation for Britain’s global power for more than a century.

Despite signing a peace treaty in 1803, the two nations were at war and fought each other in seas around the world.

After Spain allied with France in 1804, the newly-crowned French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte had enough ships to challenge Britain.

In October 1805, French Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve led a Combined French and Spanish fleet of 33 ships from the Spanish port of Cadiz to face Nelson and Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood.

Fought on October 21, 1805, the Battle of Trafalgar is one of history's most epic sea clashes. Not only did it see Britain eliminate the most serious threat to security in 200 years, but it also saw the death of British naval hero Admiral Lord Nelson

Nelson, fresh from chasing Villeneuve in the Caribbean, led the 27-ship fleet charge in HMS Victory, while Vice Admiral Collingwood sailed in Royal Sovereign.

Battles at sea had until then been mainly inconclusive, as to fire upon the opposing ship, each vessel had to pull up along side one another (broadside) which often resulted in equal damage.

Nelson bucked this trend by attacking the Combined Fleet line head on – and sailed perpendicular towards the fleet, exposing the British to heavy fire. 

He attacked in two columns to split the Combined Fleet’s line to target the flagship of Admiral Villneuve.

11. 30am Lord Nelson famously declared that ‘England expects that every man will do his duty’, in reference to the command that the ships were instructed to think for themselves. The captains had been briefed on the battle plan three weeks before, and were trusted to bravely act on their own initiative and adapt to changing circumstances – unlike their opponents who stuck to their command.

Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood led the first column and attacked the rear of the line, and broke through. 

Nelson sailed directly for the head of the Combined Fleet to dissuade them from doubling back to defend the rear. But before he reached them, he changed course to attack the middle of the line – and Villeneuve’s flagship.

Speeding toward the centre of the line, HMS Victory found no space to break through as Villeneuve’s flagship was being tightly followed – forcing Nelson to ram through at close quarters. 

In the heat of battle, and surrounded on three sides, Nelson was fatally shot in the chest by a well-drilled French musketeer.

The Combined Fleet’s vanguard finally began to come to the aid of Admiral Villeneuve, but British ships launch a counter-attack.

Admiral Villeneuve struck his colours along with many other ships in the Combined Fleet and surrendered.

4.14pm HMS Victory Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy dropped below deck to congratulate Nelson on his victory.

4.30pm With the knowledge he has secured victory, but before the battle had officially concluded, Lord Nelson died. 

5.30pm French ship Achille blew up signalling the end of the battle – in all 17 Combined Fleet ships surrendered.

 … so did Nelson really say ‘Kiss me, Hardy’ with his dying words?

By RICHARD CREASY for the Daily Mail (in an article from 2007) 

It was Britain’s greatest naval victory and for more than 200 years historians have analysed every detail.

Now, amazingly, a new eye-witness account of the Battle of Trafalgar has emerged during a house clear-out.

It gives not only a first-hand view of proceedings from the lower decks but also a different interpretation of one of history’s most enduring arguments – Admiral Lord Nelson’s dying words.

Robert Hilton was a 21-year-old surgeon’s mate on HMS Swiftsure, a 74-gun ship that played its part in the destruction of the French and Spanish fleets and of Napoleon’s dream of invading England.

It was 13 days later, after Swiftsure had made it through gales to Gibraltar for repairs that Hilton took up his pen and wrote a nine-page letter home on November 3, 1805.

In it he says Nelson’s last words, relayed to his ship’s company from Nelson’s flag captain, Captain Hardy, were: ‘I have then lived long enough.’

Many people believe Nelson said: ‘Kiss me Hardy.’ 

But historians rely on his surgeon’s reports that he said: ‘Thank God I have done my duty.’ 


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