22 October 2005
Trafalgar: why we fought

I received an e-mail today.  It read:

As is it is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar what about a piece on your Blogspot (Crozier Vision) about The Battle of Trafalgar and Admiral Lord Nelson????

A hero if there ever was one.

Normally, I would ignore such an attempt at blatant editorial interference but this e-mail happens to come from my boss and seeing as I would like to continue in my post as deputy dogsbody for just that little bit longer, I can’t.

But what is there to be said that hasn’t been said about Trafalgar?  It was a great victory and saved us from invasion.

Well, actually, there has been something missing from the coverage: the nature of the threat we were under.  After all, there are worse things than invasions.  Had I been a western German in 1945 I think I would have been rather glad to see the sight of Sherman tanks chewing up the asphalt.

When we contemplate the prospect of being invaded by Napoleonic France, we think that the worst that could have happened was that we might have forced to learn French or weigh apples in kilos.  But seeing as both of these things have come to pass, it doesn’t seem so bad.

But that wasn’t the worst that could have happened. Napoleon has, over the years, got a ridiculouly good press.  He was, in reality, the perfect and inevitable product of revolutionary France: a vicious, blood-soaked tyrant.

Our ancestors did well to fight and well to win.

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