Today, October 21st, is Trafalgar Day, when we remember Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson's famous victory against the French and Spanish off Cape Trafalgar in 1805.
Nelson was born in Norfolk and spent his life in the British navy, in the Mediterranean, the Baltic and the West Indies. He was noted for his ability to inspire and bring out the best in his men: the so-called 'Nelson touch'. His grasp of strategy and his unconventional tactics produced a number of important victories in the wars against the French. Nelson could at times be vain, insecure and overly anxious for recognition, but he was also zealous, patriotic and dutiful, as well as courageous. He was wounded several times in combat, losing one arm and the sight in one eye, difficulties which he never allowed to hamper him.
The Battle of Trafalgar, the greatest of our great sea battles, is seen as a turning point in the fight against Napoleon's attempt to make Europe his personal empire. The battle was won at great cost to the country, as Nelson himself died during the day, hit by a French sharpshooter. He was the nation's hero and his death was sadly mourned. He was given a state funeral, and is, of course, commemorated by Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square.