On the 21st October 1805, 27 British ships under the command of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson lined up against 33 French and Spanish ships under the command of the French Admiral Villeneuve faced each other just off the Cape of Trafalgar, in South West Spain.
A few hours later, 22 ships of the Franco Spanish fleet had been lost, without a single British ship suffering the same fate, Nelson was dying, Villeneuve was captured and a decisive victory had been struck, halting French invasion plans in their tracks.
As an aside and in a show of chivalry and respect for his adversary, Admiral Villeneuve attended Nelson’s funeral whilst out on parole after being brought to Britain as a prisoner of war.
The final toll makes grim reading, 1587 British sailors either killed or wounded and whilst the Franco Spanish forces losses were never made public historians estimate that around 16000 of them were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. This victory was said to have been the catalyst for British mastery of the oceans until the Second World War, although economic prosperity probably has a part to play.
This is Trafalgar lighthouse, at Cape Trafalgar, not far from Cadiz in south west Spain. Which means that out there:
nearly 18000 men of many different nationalities had their lives changed forever just over 200 years ago.
What does all of the above mean?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just over 200 years ago nearly 18000 men died, were wounded or were taken prisoner and no doubt treated very harshly indeed, and yet, today in 2017 man still cannot live with man.
History teaches us that history teaches us nothing.