It’s Trafalgar Day

It’s one of those times when I seriously regret not taking many photos of my working life.

21st October is Trafalgar Day, the anniversary of the major sea battle when Admirals Nelson and Collingwood engaged and destroyed a combined French and Spanish fleet under Adm. Pierre Villeneuve.

In 2005, because it was an anniversary with noughts on the end, the Navy had a bit of a do in Portsmouth, centred, obviously, around HMS *Victory* and the BBC, including me, went down there to cover it. Sad to say I wasn’t part of the team that got to go on board. I was running the live camera on the press gantry overlooking the ship, doing correspondents in vision for News 24 (as it was still then called) and the bulletins. Even though I wasn’t on the ship I enjoyed it well enough.

The advance briefing we got from the Navy told us that as part of the commemorations *Victory* would “fire her broadside” for the first time in nearly 200 years. Given that she mounted around a hundred guns we thought that would be quite spectacular and rather looked forward to it, even the fifty or so on one side would be impressive enough.We set up and waited. With seconds to go I was framed up and running; I suppose a dozen others were as well.


“Pop, pop, pop, pop…..”A handful of small firecrackers went off in some of her gun ports. That was it. In retrospect I suppose it wasn’t very likely that they’d run out a row of 32 pounders and let them off (even with a tiny gunpowder charge and no shot) but it was kind of an anticlimax.

And yes. Sorry, but no pictures.

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