Stourbridge Historical Society

18/05/2017

The President Chris Glaze-Millis welcomed 64 members and 44 visitors to a presentation by Max Keen on “Lord Horatio Nelson: Britain’s greatest Naval Hero”.

After his “Alfred the Great” presentation last year, members and visitors returned in force to hear about Lord Nelson (1758-1805).

Max tells us that he is a teacher but his history lesson is an entertainment which makes learning about history fun.  His improvisation has a touch of comedy as he makes a grand entrance seemingly in an admiral’s uniform but in fact a French generals uniform which he tells us he obtained from eBay.  The audience love it. We were first taken through all the ships of the Royal Navy - schooners, brigs, frigates and ships of the line such as HMS Victory and then given a lesson on naval gunnery, the conditions on the gun deck and the devastation caused by double shotted canon.

We heard about Nelson’s early life as the son of a vicar with his mother dying when he was nine and as a boy when he was introduced into the navy by his uncle Captain Maurice Suckling.  Nelson’s early career saw him sailing to many places such as the West Indies and the Arctic where he reputedly battled with polar bears.

Nelson was famous for his part in many naval battles, the capture of Corsica where he lost most of the sight in his right eye, the battle of Cape St Vincent where he showed himself as a tactical genius in splitting the Spanish fleet attempting to invade England and the Battle of the Nile where he attacked the French expeditionary force unexpectedly on the landward being injured in the battle.

Max refers to Nelson’s recovery from his injuries and his affair with Lady Hamilton and his journey back home where he toured the country and was regarded as a hero. He went back into the navy and in the Battle of Copenhagen (1801) he put his telescope to his blind eye so he could not see the signal ordering him to withdraw - “I see no signal”.

Nelson’s career finally ended at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) when in HMS Victory he hoisted the famous flag signal “England expects every man to do his duty”. Nelson was mortally wounded by a sharpshooter but his naval tactics had secured a victory for the British fleet and prevented the invasion of Britain.

The President thanked Max Keen for his presentation and few could disagree that Lord Horatio Nelson was indeed Britain’s greatest naval hero.

The next meeting is at Stourbridge Town Hall on Thursday 21st September when Roy Peacock will speak on “Ernest Stevens & Mary Stevens Park”.

Founded 1946, by Geoffrey Beard