Monday, September 19, 2005


Admiral Nelson, British Naval Hero, Honored in Thames Flotilla


By Brian Lysaght
September 16, 2005

Admiral Horatio Nelson, who led Britain's defeat of France at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, is being honored today, on the 200th anniversary of his death, in a Thames River flotilla re-enacting his funeral.

About 40 period ships, including cutters, shallops and barges, are sailing up the river from Greenwich to Westminster in central London. The procession is carrying descendents of those who fought in the battle, including Nelson's family, as well as the Royal Navy's first sea lord, Admiral Sir Alan West.

``My dream to commemorate the bicentenary of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson with a symbolic re-enactment of his amazing funeral procession has come true after eight years of planning,'' said Peter Warwick, an organizer of today's events, in a statement.

Nelson, who joined the navy at age 12, led a fleet of 27 ships that defeated a larger combined French and Spanish naval force at Trafalgar, in southwestern Spain. The victory gave Britain command of the seas for the next 100 years and ended the threat of invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte's French forces. Nelson was killed during the battle, and his funeral in January 1806 drew thousands of people to London.

Today's flotilla left Greenwich at 11:15 a.m. local time under gray skies, and with heavy winds and choppy waters, and was scheduled to arrive at Westminster at 2 p.m. It was led by the Jubilant, a wooden boat draped in black.

There will be a 22-mile (35-kilometer) race along the Thames tomorrow for 250 traditional rowing boats, starting at Ham House in Richmond at 2:30 p.m.

Nelson is buried in London's St. Paul's Cathedral and his statue towers over Trafalgar Square in the city's West End.


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