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Nelsons crew laid to rest

#1
Nelson crew laid to rest in Egypt

Helena Smith
Thursday April 14, 2005
The Guardian

The remains of 30 British men, women and children, who perished serving Horatio Nelson in the Napoleonic wars, will be buried with full military honours in Egypt next week after their discovery on a tiny windswept island off Alexandria.
Nearly 207 years after the Battle of the Nile - long considered the Royal Navy's most daring operation - the sailors, soldiers and service personnel who died fighting Napoleon Bonaparte's fleet will finally be laid to rest. The burials include James Russell, the first navy commander identified from the period.

Gordon Watson, an 87-year-old pensioner and Russell's descendant, will also attend Monday's ceremony at the British Commonwealth military cemetery in Alexandria.
"This is the first battleground cemetery from Nelson's time. It's absolutely unique," said Nick Slope, who chairs the Nelson Society.

"The discovery has not only allowed us to recover the remains of British servicemen and women who fought and died for their country. It has extended our knowledge about social conditions in Nelson's navy."

The remains were unearthed by Paolo Gallo, an Italian archaeologist. An expert in the Greco-Roman era, Dr Gallo chanced upon the first skeleton as he searched for Ptolemaic ruins on the islet in Abu Qir bay near the mouth of the Nile.

After spending more than three years poring over Nelson's logs and muster books at the Public Records Office in Kew, south-west London, Mr Slope managed to match the names with some of the remains.

"After finding Russell's baptismal certificate, I was able to establish his age and when he died and match that with the information on his coffin," the naval historian said.

"What was really surprising was finding the remains of women. Previously, it was thought that Nelson's ships were all-male preserves. The fact that they had women who served on board sheds new and revealing light on how his navy operated."

The 1798 Battle of the Nile established Nelson, the son of a Norfolk parson, as the pre-eminent admiral of his time and is widely seen as his finest hour.

Overnight the British annihilated their French foes, lined up behind the island in the bay. All but two of Napoleon's battleships were either captured or destroyed - not least the 120-gun L'Orient which blew up in the middle of the battle with the loss of hundreds of lives.

After their defeat by the British, who went on to become a colonial power in Egypt, French forces surrendered in September 1801.
One of many reasons why our Armed Forces are the best in the world - we never leave anyone behind - and we never forget those that came before us.

Click here for full story from Guardian Online
 
#2
A couple of week sago, I saw a documentary about this island and the history.

It was very interesting.

Jennie
 
#3
Calypso said:
One of many reasons why our Armed Forces are the best in the world - we never leave anyone behind - and we never forget those that came before us.
Not strictly true in the sense that we have only recently started to bring bodies back. And I think a lot of the identification work that still goes on, though undoubtably assisted by the MoD, is carried out by the excellent Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Every time you visit a CWGC Cemetery or any of its plots in municipal cemeteries, please sign the visitors register. The Commission can use this as evidence that the British public are still interested in preserving this far-flung part of our heritage because there are faceless ones who would dearly love to slash the Commission's budget.

Those that work for England,
They have their graves at home,
Where the birds and bees of England
About the cross may roam.

Those that fought for England,
following a falling star,
Alas, alas for England
They have their graves afar.

Those that rule o'er England,
in stately conclave met,
Alas, alas for England,
They have no graves as yet.


(from memory, pardon inaccuracies)
 
#4
stickybomb said:
Not strictly true in the sense that we have only recently started to bring bodies back.
Actually we ALWAYS burry our fallen where they fell, Except in the modern middle east...quite simply - we're not allowed. apparently out heathen bodies poison the earth or some sh1t like that. so now, anyone killed in Iraq, Saudi, Kuwait, Iran etc will have to be bought home for burrial. But for example, our guys killed in the Falklands ('82) were burried in theater.

Rincewind
 
#5
It always seems curious to spend time, money and resources repatriating corpses in time of conflict when it would be better spent keeping people alive.
 
#6
Between 1914 and 1982 the convention was that our war dead would be buried on the field of battle. This was a result of the Great War when the sheer numbers precluded repatriation. The government of the day realised that if there was an option to repatriate bodies privately it would only be the wealthy that could afford it, therefore legislation was passed that forbade it.

Nevertheless, in the years immediately following the First World War there were several illegal exhumations of remains by families who had the resources and determination to do so, with these bodies being secretly returned to the UK (and I think Canada in one case) for reburial on family plots. Although many UK churchyards contain WW1 dead, these were all either victims of accidents or illness while training or they died after having been brought home with battle wounds.

With the Falklands Campaign, the rules were changed to give the families the choice. Obviously the numbers were a lot less and not many families would be able to make the journey south anyway so it made more sense, not to mention being more compassionate.
 
#7
Thanks AWOL, I couldn't put my finger on when the change was made but I knew it had been.
 
#8
Awol said:
Although many UK churchyards contain WW1 dead, these were all either victims of accidents or illness while training or they died after having been brought home with battle wounds
Good point AWOL - there is a CWGC outside Warminster (near Codford) which is full of Aussies and Kiwis who died in 1919, having survived the Great War and returned to the UK for repatriation, only to die from flu whilst still here. :(
 
#9
My wife took my 4 yr old son and 3 yr old daughter to HMS Victory last week (she's Navy background - indoctrination starts early).

They said they had a great time and my son's new catch phrase is "we beat the French daddy!" - good lad!

However, what my mrs said was slightly shocking was that the display was full of FRENCH school children. Not a british one in sight.

Apparently, according to the bored teacher, the Frogs go to Victory, because this is where their Marines killed Nelson (true) and that's why they WON Trafalgar!!!!!!!! WTF :?

Weirdos 8O
 
#10
...and the CWGC cemetery in Botley (Oxford) is full of all nationalities including boxheads because the John Radcliffe was the place where all serious head wounds were sent.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#12
I went at last to my grandfathers grave at Sage near Hannover in Jan, what a peacefull place, even the tractor on the farm behind faded out once inside. My only regret was not planning the trip to take my gran, maybe next time. I took Mum, she doesnt remember him as she was only about 15 months when he was shot down. A very emotional time for us both and we were very impressed by the cemetry and how well the locals behaved and how welcome we were made to feel.
 
#13
The french used to take their dead back in the bilges of their ships. This caused disease amongst the crew of said ships and was a major cause of death amongst french crews.
The Royal Navy didn't. This could be where the tradition of burying them where they fell came from. As has been said on here - it's a very recent - post Falklands - british practice to bring back bodies.
 
#14
Rincewind said:
stickybomb said:
Not strictly true in the sense that we have only recently started to bring bodies back.
Actually we ALWAYS burry our fallen where they fell, Except in the modern middle east...quite simply - we're not allowed. apparently out heathen bodies poison the earth or some sh1t like that. so now, anyone killed in Iraq, Saudi, Kuwait, Iran etc will have to be bought home for burrial. But for example, our guys killed in the Falklands ('82) were burried in theater.

Rincewind
There are WWII Commonwealth War Graves in the Middle East, including Iraq, Iran and Saudi. This is a modern thing that bodies are returned.

You are incorrect however about the Falklands War Dead:

Most of the dead were returned to Britain after the war had ended. This was the first time ever that the British Government had returned the remains of service personnel killed over seas. Until the Falklands War all remains of British servicemen killed overseas remained in whatever far off country they had fallen. 23 bodies remain in the Falklands and are buried at the " Blue Beach" Military Cemetery at San Carlos not far from where 3rd Commando Brigade had its headquarters until the breakout. Many of the bodies of the men who died at sea were never found and the ships on which they served and died on have became their everlasting and official memorial.
http://www.darlingtontown.co.uk/newsfile/The-Falklands-War.shtml
 

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