215 years ago Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson and his fleet of brave men defeated the combined might of French and Spanish Naval forces at the Battle of Trafalgar. In the triumphant victory Nelson lost his life. Nelson was a humble parson`s son who harboured a great ambition to join the Royal Navy and to defend his country.
His ambition was shared by many of his compatriots, then and since. As we are an island nation we depend upon a strong Navy.
However Britain has always clashed with rival nations. Spain, France, Portugal and the Netherlands were formidable foes in the 18th and 19th centuries and Germany became a major threat in the twentieth century. The German Navy was defeated in the First World War after the Battle of Jutland in 1916, and again in the Second World War after the Battleship Bismarck was sunk in 1941.
The Royal Navy`s official motto and marching song is “Heart Of Oak”. Originally this was a reference to the resilience of the wood that was utilised in the construction of its ships. However over the years it has had a symbolic meaning. It symbolises the courage of all of the people who have served in the Royal Navy and this still resonates with us every year. There may be fewer hostilities that threaten us but this is in part due to the vital role that the Navy still plays in maintaining peace.