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Last Updated: Monday June 27 2005 16:02 GMT

Q & A on the Battle Of Trafalgar

When was the Battle Of Trafalgar?
It happened on 21 October 1805 off Cape Trafalgar on the coast of south west Spain.

Who was involved?
The battle was between the Royal Navy and a force made up of Spanish and French ships. The Royal Navy, under the command of Admiral Horatio Nelson, had 27 ships.

The French and Spanish forces, under Admiral Pierre de Villeneuve, had 33 ships.

Why did the battle take place?
The French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was gearing up to invade England. He had already taken over other parts of Europe and wanted to expand his empire.

Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory
Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory

The two sides were in hot pursuit of each other, then they met up at Trafalgar.

What happened at the battle?
The French and Spanish ships were lined up in a row. Instead of lining up against them, Nelson decided to attack them by forming two columns of ships, with the aim of pushing through the enemy lines and separating their ships into smaller groups.

As the battle started, Nelson made a signal, using flags, to his men from his ship, HMS Victory. It said: "England expects that every man will do his duty'. He later followed that with: "Engage the enemy more closely'.

The Royal Navy succeeded in piercing the enemy line. By 4.30pm, the battle was over as the last of the French and Spanish forces surrendered or were overwhelmed.

Gun deck of HMS Victory
Gun deck of HMS Victory

What happened to Nelson?
It was a great victory for the Royal Navy, but they lost the man who had led the attack. Nelson was shot and died of his wounds in the closing stages of the battle.

A total of 8,500 men were killed and wounded.

A statue of Nelson was put up in London's Trafalgar Square, which was named after the victory. Many visitors still flock to see it today.