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June 29, 2005

Red beats Blue at Trafalgar re-enactment . . . or is it the other way around?

Yesterday's celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar (where some guys beat some other guys, but we're not supposed to mention the war):

A spectacular fireworks display last night over the Solent followed by the illumination of the Fleet, brought the curtain down on a day commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

The 10,000 fireworks launched from 35 pontoons and six barges could be seen five miles away.

On shore, 250,000 spectators had lined vantage points in and around Portsmouth to witness the event and remember a battle which had been fought at walking pace over nearly half a day rather than hours.

Earlier, as night fell, bursts of orange flame meant to simulate cannon blast illuminated the sky during a mock battle which included a replica 18th century frigate portraying HMS Victory — the flagship which Admiral Nelson had commanded in 1805.

A fleet of ships from all over the world lined up for Royal inspection in a celebration which also marked the death of Britain's greatest naval hero, Admiral Lord Nelson.

To avoid upsetting anyone, the re-enactment was carefully staged between equal sized forces of "Red" and "Blue", with no winners or losers, and all got a prize. Some participants were less happy with the entire proceedings:

The irony of commemorating their defeat with their former enemies did not go unrecognised by all those on board.

"A lot of seamen on the Charles De Gaulle found it bizarre to celebrate with the English a battle that we have lost — it was provocative," said Stephane Lombardo, a pilot with the French Navy.

"If they have had a chance, half of the sailors would not have come," he added.

To be fair, the impact of the loss on the French was less than the value of the victory to the English: Napoleon could continue to fight on land, while England could not have kept fighting if the outcome of Trafalgar had been reversed.

Posted by Nicholas at June 29, 2005 10:46 AM

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