The Battle of Trafalgar Special, Part I: The Eyewitness Accounts

October 2021

Dr Sam Willis explores the Battle of Trafalgar through two eyewitness accounts, both from the decks of the Royal Sovereign, the flagship of Cuthbert Collingwood. Bringing a new perspective to the battle of Trafalgar is challenging, but many forget that, with Nelson receiving his fatal wound early in the action, command of the battle fell to his great friend, Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood on board the Royal Sovereign; in fact  the battle dispatches written in the aftermath of the battle of Trafalgar are unique for fleet battles in the French revolution and Napoleonic wars because none of the letters is written by the fleet’s commander-in-chief – Nelson – because he died. This episode presents a reading of Collingwood’s private journal for the day of the battle of Trafalgar and five subsequent days in which the fleet was torn apart by one of the most ferocious storms in living memory; and also a reading of the logbook kept by one of the Royal Sovereign’s officers, Lieutenant, J. Simmond.