Trafalgar Day

Trafalgar Day, 21 October, commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 when Lord Nelson lost his life. I wrote this piece about it:

Kiss Me, Hardy

There’s much to be thankful for this day even though my back is shot through and I’m finished. Thomas tells me the battle is won and I hope he doesn’t tell me so to soften my pain and I don’t believe he would. England is safe, I’m certain of that now.

My God how we fought today! Yes, the plan worked well but it could not alone have won the day, every man jack on this ship and on every ship in the fleet fought with the courage of a lion and without a thought for his own skin.

I’m so cold and with each breath I feel the blood spurt inside me. My pain is great but it will not last long now. They talk to me, reassure me, but I know the truth and so do they.

“I’m a dead man, Hardy, I am going fast.”

I’d feared Thomas was gone when a musket ball took off his shoe buckle. I smile now at the irony that even as I turned to seek assurance he was unhurt, a French sniper’s ball went through my shoulder and is now in my spine. I think of my dear Emma and I must ask Thomas to take care of her. I think I’ve done that but, truly, I am not in my right mind. The pain steals my thoughts.

“Take care of my dear Lady Hamilton, Hardy, take care of poor Lady Hamilton.”

They seek to comfort me, supporting me and rubbing my chest but it’s all in vain. My solace comes from the victory, and that our casualties are not as great as I feared when I determined our course must be to get in close, take them broadside. Close, so close. It was the only way to overcome such numbers. My God, the plan worked. Had it not, my beloved England would stand in peril. I’ve done my duty.

“Now I am satisfied. Thank God I have done my duty.”

I see my dearest Emma before me now. She strokes my face and brings her lips to mine. Oh, how I want to taste your lips my darling, feel their warmth once more before I go. I’m so, so, cold now.

“Kiss me, Hardy.”

*

Lord Horatio Nelson died during a sea battle at the Cape of Trafalgar in 1805. There is some controversy over whether or not he actually said “Kiss me Hardy” as he lay dying, attended by Thomas Hardy and others. Some believe he may have said “Kismet, Hardy”, kismet meaning fate. There are other strange theories, too, but my vote is still firmly with “Kiss me Hardy”. This is not to suggest he was homosexual, his affair with Lady Hamilton would tend to discount that. I like to think it went something like the forgoing. I’ve italicised dialogue which has been attested to by eye witnesses.