Thought I would post this whilst I have access to the internet. So it’s about tomorrow and slightly out of order.
October 21st is Trafalgar Day. The history books record the exploits of the officers and Teignmouth was a popular place for retirement of naval captains. But …..
Wander through Teignmouth, look carefully and you will see signs of Trafalgar everywhere. Start from the Ship Inn where a plaque on the wall commemorates fourteen Teignmouth men who took part in that battle, (some perhaps not so willingly if they had been press-ganged outside the Jolly Sailor!)
Their names are to be found also on benches throughout town, placed there in 2005 to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle. I think this is particularly poignant because what do we usually remember of naval battles? – the admirals and the warships (the Ajax, for example, appeared again in the Battle of the River Plate in WW2).
Remember instead ordinary men, with ordinary names, leading ordinary lives in a town like Teignmouth.
The Achille, the Colossus, the Conqueror,
the Ajax, Defiance and Spartiate,
Temeraire, Polyphemus and Bellisle;
bearing the brave, those ships of the line,
ruling the waves
with names that live on,
glorious, proud, heroic, blood-chilling
names of which Empire was made.
Ordinary seaman, able seaman, Royal Marine,
master’s mate, caulker’s mate, carpenter,
quartermaster, ….. lieutenant;
bearing skills for the ships of the line.
Some, press-ganged slaves –
Jolly Sailor men.
Rum-soaked, ale-soused, they took the King’s Shilling.
All hail! Thus Empire was made.
Arscott, Bishop, Blacklock, Brown,
Collins, Corsley, Edwards, Sweet,
Richards, Walker, Tibbs and Gay,
Squarey and Kay, all men of the line,
so their names can live on
on brass plates on benches in Teignmouth,
a town where Empire was made.