2005 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar

200th Anniversary 1805-2005

Date: 23rd June 2005
Stamps: Bermuda 200th Anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar 10c HMS Victory; 35c The Pickle under contruction in Bermuda; 70c HMS Pickle picking up survivors from the Archille; 85c HMS Pickle racing back to England.

Official First Day Cover

2005 200th Anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar FDC

Reverse: Map of Bermuda with Magnifying Glass

2005 200th Anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar reverse FDC


200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar 1805 – 2005

The Battle of Trafalgar was the culmination of a long and hard campaign. After the signing of the Treaty of Amiens, Europe enjoyed more than a year of peace, but Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was already planning the next phase of his plan for the domination of Europe. Realising that if war broke out, the British would blockade French and Continental ports. he planned t0 invade England after first securing the English Channel. He gave orders for the French fleets at Toulon, Brest and Ferrol to break out of their ports.

After an initially unsuccessful attempt, Admiral Villeneuve broke out of Toulon at the end of March 1805 and set sail for the West Indies having collected Admiral Gravina and the Spanish fleet from Cadiz. On hearing the news, Nelson assumed that Villeneuve was heading for Egypt, but realising his mistake, set sail across the Atlantic in pursuit of the French fleet following them to the West Indies and then back to Europe.

Villeneuve arrived in Cadiz on 20 August with Nelson arriving to join Collingwood’s fleet off Cadiz just over a month later. In late September Villeneuve received orders to sail back into the Mediterranean heading for Naples.

Having sailed from Cadiz the day before, it was on the morning of 21 October that the combined French and Spanish fleets found themselves faced by the British fleet. This comprised two columns; the Weather Column under Admiral Nelson, on board HMS Victory and the Lee Column under Admiral Collingwood, on board HMS Royal Sovereign. On board HMS Victory, Nelson ordered the famous signal to the fleet ‘England expects that every man will do his duty: This was followed by a final signal ‘Engage the enemy more closely’, shortly after which, the first shots were fired by the Combined Fleet at HMS Royal Sovereign. Some fifteen minutes later, HMS Victory was fired on at long range.

By the time Victory was about to break the enemy line, she had been subjected to significant enemy fire and it was suggested to Nelson that he should consider moving his flag to HMS Euryalus and direct the battle from there. He refused. HMS Victory proceeded to break the line and having engaged the French ship Bucentaure, Captain Hardy brought Victory alongside the Redoubtable. Firing a starboard broadside into the French vessel the two ships crashed together locking yardarms. French marines threw grenades and aimed musket fire onto the deck of HMS Victory. At about 1.15 pm Captain Hardy and Nelson were on the quarter deck when Nelson was struck through the shoulder by a musket ball which then shattered his spine. He was carried down to the orlop deck and attended by the ship’s surgeon William Beatty.

The battle wore on throughout the afternoon with Rear-Admiral Dumanoir mounting an unsuccessful counter attack. Gradually the British ships gained the upper hand with an increasing number of French and Spanish ships striking their colours or sailing away from the battle. Captain Hardy reported to Nelson that the battle was won and uttering his last words ‘Thank God I have done my duty’, Nelson died at 4.30pm. The euphoria of victory was lessened once the ships’ crews became aware of the death of Nelson.

The Battle of Trafalgar was a closely fought action and the casualties bear out the ferocity of the fighting. The British lost 449 men killed and 1,241 wounded and the French and Spanish fleets lost over 4,400 men killed and in excess of 2,500 wounded.

Following the storm that blew up after the battle, HMS Victory was towed into Gibraltar carrying the body of Nelson. His body was brought back to England where he was given a funeral befitting the status of national hero.

HMS Victory was repaired and saw further service under Rear-Admiral Sir James Saumarez in the Baltic Sea during 1808 – 1812. She subsequently served as a guard ship and was finally paid off as a flagship in 1869.

HMS Victory is still registered as a ship of the Royal Navy and docked at Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, she now undergoes constant restoration. This year she will be the focus of many special events commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

One of the stamps that comprises part of this set of postage stamps shows HMS Victory leading Nelson’s column of ships into the battle (10c). Painted by famous maritime artist Francis Smitheman, the hull, mast and spars have been overprinted by the thermographic process that uses real wood from HMS Victory. The wood is finely ground and then applied to the stamps in powder form that is then heated. The result is a stamp that has real ‘Victory wood’ as part of its composition.

This issue concentrates on HMS Pickle, a schooner built from cedar wood in Bermuda (35c). Originally named ‘The Sting’ she was built in Bermuda in 1799 and purchased by the Royal Navy in December 1800 for £2,500. She weighed approximately 125 tons, and was 73 feet in length and just under 21 feet in width.

At Trafalgar, she was commanded by Lt. John Richard Lapenotiere and in the weeks before the battle she joined the fleet as an observation vessel. HMS Pickle counted 33 enemy ships in Cadiz and reported this information to Nelson on board HMS Victory.

During and after the battle itself, the Pickle was kept busy picking up survivors. She rescued about 50 people (including a woman) from the French ship Achille, transporting them to HMS Revenge (70c).

Having completed an account of the battle and the death of Nelson, Admiral Collingwood chose HMS Pickle t0 carry the despatch back t0 England (85c). Setting sail on 26 October 1805, she eventually reached Falmouth in South West England on 4 November having encountered heavy seas during the voyage. Lt Lapenotiere boarded a stagecoach and reached London in record time, arriving at the Admiralty at one o’clock in the morning of 6 November.

HMS Pickle continued in service with the Royal Navy and in 1807 she captured a 14 gun French privateer. However whilst entering Cadiz with despatches on 27 July 1808, she was wrecked and lost.

Mr W. Hudson, Master of HMS Belleisle at the Battle of Trafalgar, was to become Master Attendant of the Bermuda Dockyard in 1835.


Artist: John Batchelor
Layout and Design: CASB Studio
Printer: Cartor Security Printing
Processes: Lithography and Thermography
Stamp Size: 30mm x 48mm
Pane: 40 (2 x 20)
Paper: Printers own unwatermarked and CA Spiral Watermarked
Perforation: 13 per 2 cms
Release Date: 23 June 2005

2005 200th Anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar liner FDC2005 200th Anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar liner FDC

Unofficial First Day Covers

2005 200th Anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar FDC Benham

Type: Benham First Day Cover
Cachet: Bicentenary THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR Vice Admiral Horatio 1 Viscount Nelson 1758 – 1805
Envelope: Benham Folkestone, Kent

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Bermuda Stamps