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The Trafalger dispatch

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At 1 am (all times given are local) on the6 November 1805 a mud-spattered Royal Navy  lieutenant arrived at the Admiralty in Whitehall with Admiral Collingwood’s dispatch and the bitter-sweet news of  the Battle of Trafalgar. The officer was John Richards Lapenotiere, and the then First Secretary to the Board of Admiralty, William Marsden, recalled his first words many years later: “Sir, we have gained a great victory, but have lost Lord Nelson.†Within hours London was awash with the news. But behind Lapenotiere’s epic dispatch there lies the story of the equally epic journey that he had made to bring the news from Cape Trafalgar to Falmouth and onwards to Whitehall, and one in which the weather had no small part.


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