Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Admiral Nelson statue removed in Barbados !

The Battle of Trafalgar (21 Oct 1805) was a naval engagement fought by the British Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies during the War of the Third Coalition  of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815).


As part of an overall French plan to combine all French and allied fleets to take control of the English Channel and thus enable Napoleon's Grande Armée to invade England, French and Spanish fleets under French Admiral Villeneuve sailed from the port of Cádiz in the south of Spain on 18 October 1805. They encountered the British fleet under Admiral Lord Nelson, recently assembled to meet this threat, in the Atlantic Ocean along the southwest coast of Spain, off Cape Trafalgar, near the town of Los Caños de Meca.  In a fierce battle, 27 British ships of the line fought 33 French and Spanish ships of the line. The lead ships of the British columns were heavily battered, with Nelson's flagship HMS Victory nearly disabled, but the greater experience and training of the Royal Navy overcame greater numbers. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost 22 ships while the British lost none. Nelson himself was shot by a French musketeer, and died shortly before the battle ended. Villeneuve was captured along with his flagship Bucentaure.   Admiral Federico Gravina, the senior Spanish flag officer, escaped capture with the remnant of the fleet. He died of his wounds five months later.

The victory confirmed the naval supremacy Britain had established during the course of the eighteenth century, and was achieved in part through Nelson's departure from prevailing naval tactical orthodoxy.  Conventional battle practice at the time was for opposing fleets to engage each other in single parallel lines, in order to facilitate signalling and disengagement and to maximise fields of fire and target areas. Nelson instead arranged his ships into columns sailing directly towards and into the enemy fleets’ line.

India has played 9 tests and 3 one dayers at Bridgetown  – have lost 7 tests, drawn 2, lost 2 ODIs – their only win came on May 290, 2002 – Dinesh Mongia was the player of the match. 

Barbados  is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is 34 kilometres (21 mi) in length and as much as 23 kilometres (14 mi) in width, amounting to 431 square kilometres (166 sq mi). It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic.  Barbados is outside of the principal Atlantic hurricane belt.  Barbados was once a Spanish and Portuguese possession till it became a British colony.  Barbados has produced many great cricketers including Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Gordon Greenidge, Sir Wes Hall, Sir Charlie Griffith, Joel Garner, Desmond Haynes and Malcolm Marshall.

The Kensington Oval has been home to Pickwick CC since 1882, and originally a pasture on a plantation 600 yards from the coast, it has grown into one of the most impressive grounds in the Caribbean.  The pitches at Bridgetown are generally fast and bouncy, but generally favour the batsmen.

No Cricket post this but on a statue of a man who was once considered a hero but now biting the dust !

Barbados has taken down a statue of Admiral Nelson in its latest symbolic break with its colonial past, two months after announcing it would sever its links with the British monarchy and become a republic.  The bronze statue of Nelson was unveiled in 1813, eight years after his victory in the Battle of Trafalgar and 30 years before Nelson's Column was completed in London. But it has long been seen as an unwelcome vestige of British rule, not least because of Nelson's defence of the slave trade on which the plantation economy was based.  Months after the George Floyd protests sparked a reassessment of racism and history around the world, the statue has finally gone from Bridgetown's National Heroes Square after a ceremony, and will go to a museum.  At the ceremony, Barbadian prime minister Mia Mottley said the government accepted the statue was an 'important, historic relic'. But she added: 'It is not a relic to be placed in the National Heroes Square of a nation that has had to fight for too long to shape its destiny and to forge a positive future for its citizens.'

Barbados was claimed for England in 1625 and became independent after more than three centuries of colonial rule in 1966. Its present day population of about 287,000 people are mainly the descendants of African slaves brought over by force to work the plantations. Moves are now underway for Barbados to ditch the Queen as its head of state and to become a republic before the 55th anniversary of its independence next year. 'The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,' said Barbados governor-general Sandra Mason when the move was announced in September. 

Several administrations have had their eye on removing the Nelson statue since 1990, and the square where it stood was renamed from Trafalgar Square in 1999. Nelson was a hero to the ruling classes and plantation elite in the Caribbean, which was largely colonised by Britain, France and Spain, and was itself an important battleground in the Napoleonic wars.   Nelson never owned slaves, but  was  a supporter of the slave trade and once wrote to a friend in Jamaica that 'I have ever been, and shall die, a firm friend of our present colonial system'.  In the same 1805 letter, he went on to denounce 'the damnable doctrine' of abolitionists of the day such as William Wilberforce.  While Nelson never owned slaves himself, he had 'constant exposure to the realities of the slavery system', according to the National Museum of the Royal Navy. Some Caribbean islands had up to 90 per cent of their populations enslaved and producing sugar, meaning it was hard not to be aware of what was happening. 

Nelson was killed on the deck of his flagship HMS Victory by a French sniper at Trafalgar, and the slave trade was abolished two years later.  The Nelson Society offered a defence of the admiral earlier this year, saying he was merely a man of his time and a military officer whose job was not to make policy, adding that the 1805 letter was taken out of context for political reasons. The society cited one occasion on which Nelson freed 30 African slaves from Portuguese ships, and another where he aided an abolitionist Haitian general.  



After decades of overlooking Bridgetown's principal thoroughfare, the Nelson statue will now be housed at the Barbados Museum in the Historic Garrison Area. It joins a number of other statues across the globe, including slave traders in Britain to Confederate generals in the United States, to be hauled down this year the Black Lives Matter campaign gathered unprecedented momentum. Nelson's Column in London's Trafalgar Square, which was completed in 1843, has also been targeted by activists for removal. 

The famous battle figuring Nelson was fought of the coast of Spain, in which the Royal Navy defeated a combined French and Spanish fleet at the height of the Napoleonic Wars, when the French general was intent on invading Britain. Lord Nelson spent much of his career fighting the Spanish and French in the Caribbean where the imperial powers struggled over fertile islands which were the lucrative producers of white gold - also known as sugar. He was known to have visited Barbados on June 4, 1805, where he was considered a hero by the locals for defending them from French invasion.  The statue was erected eight years after Nelson was shot dead by a French sniper at the Battle of Trafalgar. A plaque on the statue reads: 'This statue in honour of the hero of the inhabitants of this island erected A.D. MDCCCXII.'  The bronze piece is the work of Sir Richard Westmacott, a renowned artist who sculpted another two likenesses of the admiral, including the first in Britain at the Bull Ring in Birmingham and at Exchange Flags in Liverpool.

In Cricket, there exists a superstition of Nelson – score of 111 and multiples of it (222, 333, 444 .. …] are considered unlucky.  While players with such belief could fear, Umpire David Shepherd would post unnaturally moving one of his legs off the ground,  when the score read 111.    "Nelson" originates "in the erroneous notion that Admiral Nelson had one eye, one arm and one leg".  This is fallacious, since the Admiral was quite intact from the waist down. The ignorance of the cricketing fraternity on any topic unrelated to their beloved pastime will come as little surprise to anyone who has spent much time listening to the persiflage of the commentary team.   

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17.11.2020. 

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