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Victory Lost?
by Clint Wayne
2008-09-16 09:05:21
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Every now and then whilst reading my Daily Mail I pick-up on an article that makes me just shake my head in sheer disbelief and yes I expect that you’ve already guessed today was one of those days.

It has been reported that the iconic vessel H.M.S Victory, the flagship of Nelson’s Fleet during that episode in history, namely The Battle of Trafalgar, that all British school children learn about, could to be sold off to a private owner or charitable trust as the British Government no longer wish to fund the £1.5 million pounds a year maintenance, even though it attracts nearly 500,000 visitors each year.

Don’t they understand that this is our National Treasure that embodies the legendary pride and traditions of the Royal Navy, and played such a huge role in the defence of our realm? It is part of our proud history when Britannia did ‘Rule the Waves’ so how can this Government be so flippant with our National Heritage?

H.M.S Victory has had pride of place in dry dock at the Portsmouth Naval Dockyard since 1922 alongside the salvaged ‘Mary Rose’ Henry VIII’s own Naval Flagship. I can personally recommend it to you all as a great day out having taken my own boys there as youngsters where they got a flavour of what life was really like during Nelson’s lifetime; it’s a visit that brings history alive.

It is that history that tells us that Admiral Horatio Nelson made Victory his Flagship and pursued the French fleet relentlessly across the Atlantic culminating on 21st October 1805 when off the coast of Spain at Cape Trafalgar Nelson’s Fleet routed the larger combined forces of the French and Spanish Fleets and in doing so destroyed all hopes of a possible invasion of England by Napoleon’s forces. Nelson was shot as he stood on deck and later died of his wounds. Victory carried Nelson’s body back to Greenwich in London where it laid in State before being buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Finally Victory was decommissioned in 1809 and in 1831 her former Captain Hardy of “Kiss me, Hardy fame” then First Sea Lord refused to order her destruction following a emotional story that his wife had burst into tears on learning of its fate. Having taken its part in four successful military campaigns it even survived a hit by the German Luftwaffe in World War 2.

A charitable trust would mean that once again the burden would fall on to the generous British public or the National Lottery who are already under pressure from the London Olympics. Private ownership could result in our heritage being funded by American, Russian or Middle Eastern billionaires. How shameful would that be? 

Maybe they could convert it into a ‘Theme Ship’ or fly its sponsor's flags from the masts. This much loved magnificent ship means so much to the whole British nation why would anyone let alone the British Government take such risk to her well being. Nelson must be turning in his grave.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-09-16 10:46:24
Ah, the good old nostalgic glory days of imperialism! Indeed, its icons ought to be preserved but the correct interpretation of their real significance within global history remains crucial.

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