Trafalgar 1805 – Powder screen aboard the Temeraire

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    Malcolm Lewis

    I have been enjoying SNR Member Peter Warwick’s Voices from the Battle of Trafalgar, David & Charles 2005, in which he records the words and experiences of the officers and men on both sides who took part in the pell-mell battle.
    On page 213, in an episode involving the British Temeraire and the French Redoubtable, he mentions that a party from the former went aboard the Redoubtable to assist with fighting a fire which threatened both vessels, and who were well received by their enemy, such is the power of the ‘brotherhood of the sea’. One of Redoubtable’s fire balls(?)is also reported as entering the powder screen on the quarter deck of Temeraire where it ‘caused a destructive explosion on the main deck below’. The fire was put out by Master-At-Arms John Toohig, from Cork, who was quartered in the light room.
    Whilst I am familiar with the use of wetted woollen Fearnought curtains at the entrance to the magazines I am puzzled by the term ‘powder screen on the quarterdeck’. When in action it was usual to clear away all the bulkheads which enclosed the living quarters under the poop deck, and the magazines were well protected a long way below on the orlop. Can anyone explain the description ‘powder screen on the quarterdeck’ please?

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