Saturday, October 22, 2005

Telegraph pays tribute to Chronicle scoop

The Daily Telegraph, Britain’s best selling quality daily, has highlighted the role the Gibraltar Chronicle played in reporting Lord Nelson’s famous victory at Trafalgar.

In a two page special a facsimile of the original is reproduced and the story told of how news broke.

“News of the battle and Lord Nelson’s death was slow in reaching London - so slow that the Gibraltar Chronicle, an English newspaper founded in 1801 and still going strong, scooped its British rivals, including The Times, by a full two weeks.”

It tells also how Vice Adml Collingwood had sent his dispatch aboard a schooner named Pickle which arrived at 1am on Nov 6. The Globe, a London evening paper, was able to break the news on that day and, unlike most newspapers of its time, ran a headline and news story before the official dispatch. It followed its headline:

“Destruction of the combined French and Spanish fleet and death of Lord Nelson” with three exclamation marks. The paper reported:

“We stated, some days since, that Government were in daily expectation of important news from our fleet, off Cadiz.

It has, at length, arrived, and glorious indeed it is, as it announces the DESTRUCTION of the COMBINED fleet in Cadiz harbour; but most lamentable, as announcing the DEATH OF THE GREAT LORD NELSON.

News at once so glorious and so melancholy diffused itself through the town, with astonishing velocity. The intelligence was brought home by the Pickle schooner, [captained by] Lt Lapenotiere, who arrived at one o’clock this morning at the Admiralty Office.”

Morning papers carried the news on Nov 7, mostly printing Collingwood’s dispatch in full. The Morning Post, the predecessor to The Daily Telegraph, ran the dispatch over three columns, without any preamble. It also printed in full the Admiralty bulletin announcing the news, which said of Nelson’s death:

“Lord Nelson’s ship being closely engaged with the Santisima Trinidad, and others of the enemy’s ships, a musket shot fired from the top wounded his Lordship, and deprived him of his most valuable life.”

The Morning Chronicle ran the dispatch from Collingwood before its own editorial comment. Its comment read:

“The feeling with which the intelligence of the triumph and death of Lord Nelson was received by the British people did honour to their character.

Not a man who would not have given up his life to achieve such a victory. Not a man who would not have surrendered every part of that victory, (except the honour of Britain), to save the life of Lord Nelson.”

The Observer, the only Sunday newspaper of its time, had to wait until Nov 10 to report the news. The previous week, on Nov 3, almost two weeks after the battle, it could only report:

“We are still without intelligence of the nature or consequences of the battle which is stated to have been fought on the 19th; and we are assured that Government is similarly circumstanced.”

The following week, after the news had finally arrived in London, the newspaper announced the circumstances of Nelson’s death in considerable detail. It reported:

“The ball which deprived the country of one of its proudest ornaments, the ever to be lamented Nelson, entered his shoulder, carrying away part of the epaulet and penetrated into his left breast, the excess of internal bleeding occasioned suffocation.

His body, which is preserved in spirits, is, we understand, coming home on board the Entreprenante cutter, and is to lie in state.”

Related Links:

The Gibraltar Government website provides a number of .pdf files detailing the full programme of events. These can be found here

21 October 2005 - Spain, Britain and France mark Trafalgar Bicentenary

BBC Best Links - News - Trafalgar 200
Coverage of all the events marking the anniversary, with articles about the history of the battle itself .

200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar

SeaBritain 2005

The Battle of TrafalgarBattle of Trafalgar at


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