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9.2in guns of HMS Lord Nelson
Here we see three of the ten 9.2in guns carried as a secondary armament on HMS Lord Nelson, the name ship of the Lord Nelson class of pre-dreadnought battleships (the final such class). The guns were carried in three turrets on each side, with twin gun turrets fore and aft and a single gun turret in the middle. Here we see the central turret and the rear twin turret on the port side of the ship, looking back towards the ship's boats.
Pioneering naval gunnery developments by Captain Percy Scott in the early 1900s were already pushing expected battle ranges out to an unprecedented 6,000 yards (5,500 m), a distance great enough to force gunners to wait for the shells to arrive before applying corrections for the next salvo. A related problem was that the shell splashes from the more numerous smaller weapons tended to obscure the splashes from the bigger guns. Either the smaller-calibre guns would have to hold their fire to wait for the slower-firing heavies, losing the advantage of their faster rate of fire, or it would be uncertain whether a splash was due to a heavy or a light gun, making ranging and aiming unreliable. Another problem was that longer-range torpedoes were expected to soon be in service and these would discourage ships from closing to ranges where the smaller guns' faster rate of fire would become preeminent. Keeping the range open generally negated the threat from torpedoes and further reinforced the need for heavy guns of a uniform calibre. 
After being appointed Director of Naval Construction in early 1902, Philip Watts and the Third Naval Lord and Controller of the Navy, Vice-Admiral William May conducted studies that revealed the destructive power of smaller guns such as the 6-inch (152 mm) was far smaller than that of larger guns like the 12-inch (305 mm). The greater damage inflicted at greater range by larger guns meant that there was a very real chance that the lightly protected smaller guns would be destroyed before they could open fire and that thicker armour was required over a greater area to resist large-calibre shells. 
The Board of Admiralty wished to keep the size of the 1903–1904 Naval Programme battleships to about the 14,000 long tons (14,000 t) of the earlier Duncan class and also required them to be able to use the drydocks at Chatham, Portsmouth and Devonport, despite the fact that these were enlarged before the ships were completed. This latter requirement severely constrained the length and beam of the design. Preliminary design work began in mid-1902 and it became clear that a displacement at least equal to that of the preceding King Edward VII class would be required. Lacking a consensus on the design, May called a conference in November to discuss the way forward. The participants agreed to increase the armour to a maximum of 12 inches and the maximum displacement to 16,500 long tons (16,800 t), eliminated the three-calibre gun armament that had proven so unpopular in the King Edward VIIs in favour of a mix of 12-inch and 9.2-inch (234 mm) guns, and rejected the version armed with only 10-inch (254 mm) guns proposed by Watts. 
The Admiralty formally approved a 16,350-long-ton (16,610 t) design armed with four 12-inch and a dozen 9.2-inch guns on 6 August 1903, but revoked it in October when they discovered that it could not be docked at Chatham. As it was now too late to revise the design in time for the 1903–1904 Programme, the Admiralty ordered three more King Edward VII-class ships instead. Watts refined the design to ensure that it could enter the Chatham docks, which required reducing the number of 9.2-inch guns to only 10, and it was approved on 10 February 1904.  A planned third ship of the class was cancelled due to financial pressures arising from the purchase of the Swiftsure-class battleships. 
The Lord Nelson-class ships had an overall length of 443 feet 6 inches (135.2 m), a beam of 79 feet 6 inches (24.2 m) and an extra deep load draught of 30 feet (9.1 m). They displaced 15,358 long tons (15,604 t) at normal load and 17,820 long tons (18,106 t) at deep load. Lord Nelson had a metacentric height of 5.27 feet (1.6 m) at extra deep load.  The Lord Nelson class "proved good seaboats and steady gun platforms, with excellent manoeuvrabiling qualities."  Their crew numbered 749–756 officers and ratings in peacetime and averaged 800 men during the war. 
The ships were powered by a pair of four-cylinder inverted vertical triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one four-bladed, 15-foot (4.6 m) screw, using steam provided by fifteen water-tube boilers that operated at a pressure of 275 psi (1,896 kPa 19 kgf/cm 2 ). The boilers were trunked into two funnels located amidships. The engines, rated at 16,750 indicated horsepower (12,490 kW), were intended to give a maximum speed of 18 knots (33 km/h 21 mph), but both ships slightly exceeded their design speed, reaching 18.5–18.7 knots (34.3–34.6 km/h 21.3–21.5 mph) during their sea trials. The Lord Nelsons were the first British battleships to be built with fuel oil sprayers to increase the burn rate of the coal. They carried a maximum of 2,170–2,193 long tons (2,205–2,228 t) of coal and an additional 1,048–1,090 long tons (1,065–1,107 t) of fuel oil in tanks in their double bottom. At a cruising speed of 10 knots (19 km/h 12 mph), the ships had a range of 5,390 nautical miles (9,980 km 6,200 mi) burning only coal and 9,180 nmi (17,000 km 10,560 mi) using coal and oil. 
The main armament of the Lord Nelson-class ships consisted of four 45-calibre breech-loading (BL) 12-inch Mark X guns in a pair of twin-gun turrets, one each fore and aft of the superstructure. The guns had a maximum elevation of +13.5° which gave them a range of 16,450 yards (15,042 m). They fired 850-pound (386 kg) projectiles at a muzzle velocity of 2,746 ft/s (837 m/s) at a rate of two rounds per minute.  The ships carried 80 shells per gun. 
Their secondary armament consisted of ten 50-calibre BL 9.2-inch Mk XI guns. They were mounted in four twin-gun turrets positioned at the corners of the superstructure and a pair of single-gun turrets amidships. The guns were limited to an elevation of +15° which gave their 380-pound (172 kg) shells a range of 16,200 yards (14,800 m). They had a muzzle velocity of 2,875 ft/s (876 m/s) and a maximum rate of fire of four rounds per minute.  Each gun was provided with 100 rounds.  For defence against torpedo boats, the ships carried two dozen 50-calibre quick-firing (QF) 12-pounder (3 in (76 mm)) 18 cwt guns [Note 1] in single mounts in the superstructure.  At an elevation of +20°, their 2,660 ft/s (810 m/s) muzzle velocity gave the guns a range of 9,300 yd (8,500 m) with their 12.5-pound (6 kg) projectiles.  The ships were also fitted with 10 QF 3-pounder (47 mm (1.9 in)) Hotchkiss guns, two in the superstructure and the others on the turret roofs.  They were equipped with five submerged 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes, two on each broadside and one in the stern,  and carried 23 torpedoes for them. 
The Lord Nelsons ' armour scheme was derived from that of the King Edward VII class, although the vertical armour was generally thicker and the deck armour slightly thinner. The waterline main belt was composed of Krupp cemented armour (KCA) 12-inches thick, although it thinned to 6 inches (152 mm) at its lower edge. It was 7 feet (2.1 m) high of which 5 feet (1.5 m) was below the waterline at normal load. The thickest portion of the belt extended for approximately 190 feet (57.9 m) amidships, from the rear of the forward 12-inch barbette to abreast the rear main-gun barbette. It was 4 inches (102 mm) thick from there to the stern while the portion abreast the forward barbette was 9 inches (229 mm) thick and then reduced to 6 inches to the bow. Below the belt at the stem, a 2-inch (51 mm) strake of armour projected downwards to support the ship's plow-type ram. The middle strake consisted of 8-inch (203 mm) armour plates it continued forward to the bow, albeit in 6- then 4-inch thicknesses. Aft it terminated in an oblique 8-inch bulkhead that connected the armour to the aft barbette. The upper strake of armour was also 8 inches thick, but only covered the area between the main-gun barbettes with oblique bulkheads of the same thickness connecting the side armour to the barbettes to form the armoured citadel. 
The main gun turret faces and sides were 12 inches thick and their roofs were protected by 3- and 4-inch plates. Their barbettes also had 12 inches of armour on their external faces down to the main deck. Below this the forward barbette's armour reduced to 8 inches down to the middle deck while the aft barbette retained its full thickness down to the middle deck. The inner faces of the barbettes were 3 or 4 inches thick for the forward barbette and 3 inches thick for the aft barbette. The 9.2-inch gun turret faces had 8-inch armour plating, their sides were 7 inches (178 mm) thick and they had 2-inch thick roofs. The turrets sat on 6-inch thick armoured bases and their ammunition hoists were protected by 2-inch armoured tubes. 
The upper deck over the citadel was 0.75 inches (19 mm) thick and the main deck forward of the citadel to the bow had a thickness of 1.5 inches (38 mm) inches. The middle deck inside the citadel was 1 inch (25 mm) thick on the flat, but 2 inches thick where it sloped downwards to meet the bottom edge of the waterline belt. The lower deck was 4 inches thick where it sloped upwards to meet the bases of the main-gun barbettes, but was otherwise 1 inch thick forward of the citadel. Aft it ranged in thickness from 2 inches on the flat and 3 inches on the slope to protect the steering gear.  The forward conning tower was protected by 12 inches of armour on its sides and it had a 3-inch roof. The aft conning tower had 3-inch armour plates all around. The Lord Nelsons were the first British ships fitted with unpierced watertight bulkheads for all main compartments with access gained by using lifts. In service the inconvenience of this feature for the crew, especially in the engine and boiler rooms, led to its abandonment in the next generation of battleships. 
Naval historian R. A. Burt assessed the greatest weaknesses of their armour scheme as the waterline belt being submerged at deep load and the reduction in the thickness of the barbette armour below the upper deck. He believed that this made the ships' magazines vulnerable to plunging fire from long range. 
Modifications to the sisters before 1920 were relatively minor. In 1909 the number of 3-pounders was reduced to four in Agamemnon and two in Lord Nelson. In 1910–1911 a rangefinder was installed of the roof of the forward turret in both ships and another was added to the spotting top in Agamemnon. The following year Lord Nelson had her spotting top modified to accommodate one as well. In 1913–1914 the ship had an additional rangefinder added to her bridge. The remaining 3-pounders were removed from the ships in 1914–1915 as were the rooftop and bridge rangefinders. A pair of 12-pounders were removed from the after superstructure in exchange for a pair of 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns on high-angle mounts. In 1916–1917, four 12-pounders were removed from the forward superstructure in Agamemnon while Lord Nelson only lost two. That ship lost two more from her aft superstructure in 1918. 
Early in 1919 the Admiralty decided that the Navy needed a radio-controlled target ship to properly train gunnery officers. It conducted tests to evaluate the effectiveness of 15-inch (380 mm) shells on armour plates as thick as the typical pre-dreadnought deck armour. At an equivalent range of 25,230 yards (23,070 m), the plates were completely destroyed and the Admiralty realized that 15-inch shells would do much the same to any of the surplus early dreadnoughts. It then limited all gunnery practice against the target ships to a maximum of 6-inch shells. Agamemnon was selected as the target ship in 1920 and was modified to suit her new role, including the installation of wireless equipment. She was disarmed and her 9.2-inch gun turrets were removed, but not her main-gun turrets. Most of her internal openings were plated over and much internal equipment was removed. Concerned about her stability with the loss of a lot of topweight, 1,000 long tons (1,016 t) of ballast were added low in the ship and Agamemnon was inclined to measure her stability. With a displacement of 14,185 long tons (14,413 t), the ship had a metacentric height of 8.56 feet (2.6 m). 
|Name||Builder ||Laid down ||Launched ||Commissioned ||Fate ||Cost (including armament) |
|Lord Nelson||Palmers, Jarrow||18 May 1905||4 September 1906||1 December 1908||Sold for scrap, 4 June 1920||£1,651,339|
|Agamemnon||Beardmore, Dalmuir||15 May 1905||23 June 1906||25 June 1908||Sold for scrap, 1927||£1,652,347|
Construction of the ships was seriously delayed when their main-gun turrets were transferred to HMS Dreadnought, then under construction, to allow her to be finished more quickly.  Both ships commissioned in 1908, the last pre-dreadnoughts in the Royal Navy to do so, and were assigned to the Home Fleet until 1914. Lord Nelson became flagship of the vice-admiral commanding the Nore Division of the Home Fleet at the beginning of 1909, but became a private ship in early 1914. After the First World War began later that year, the sisters were assigned to the Channel Fleet, with Lord Nelson becoming the fleet flagship. The fleet was initially tasked with covering the passage of the British Expeditionary Force across the English Channel. Both ships were transferred to the Mediterranean in 1915 to support Allied forces in the Dardanelles Campaign and to help blockade the German battlecruiser Goeben. Lord Nelson became flagship of the Dardanelles Squadron, later redesignated as the Eastern Mediterranean Squadron in January 1916 and then the Aegean Squadron in August 1917, a few months after her arrival. 
The sisters participated in numerous bombardments of Turkish forts and positions between their arrival in February and May during which they were slightly damaged by Turkish guns. Agamemnon was withdrawn to Malta for repairs that lasted several months while Lord Nelson was repaired locally. After the evacuation of Gallipoli at the beginning of 1916 they were assigned to the Eastern Mediterranean Squadron which was tasked to guard against a breakout attempt by Goeben and Breslau, now transferred to the Ottoman Navy and renamed Yavûz Sultân Selîm and Mdilli, respectively, support the Allied forces in the Macedonian front and defend the various Greek islands occupied by the Allies. Lord Nelson was mostly based in Salonica, Greece, while Agamemnon was mainly based at Mudros on the island of Lemnos, although they sometimes alternated. The latter ship shot down the German Zeppelin LZ85 during a bombing mission over Salonica in mid-1916. When Yavuz Sultan Selim and Midilli attempted to sortie into the Mediterranean at the beginning of 1918, neither battleship was able to reach Imbros before the Ottoman ships sank the two monitors based there during the Battle of Imbros. While heading towards Mudros, the ships entered a minefield Midilli sank after striking multiple mines and Yavuz Sultan Selim struck several, but was able to withdraw back to the Dardanelles. 
On 30 October 1918 the Ottoman Empire signed the Armistice of Mudros on board Agamemnon and she participated in the occupation of Constantinople the following month. Agamemnon remained there until she returned home in March 1919, while Lord Nelson spent a short time in the Black Sea before returning two months later. Both ships were reduced to reserve upon their arrival. Lord Nelson was sold for scrap in June 1920, but Agamemnon was converted into a radio-controlled target ship in 1920–1921. She was sold for scrap in her turn in early 1927, the last surviving British pre-dreadnought. 
The Nelson-class battleship was essentially a smaller, 23-knot (43 km/h 26 mph) battleship version of the G3 battlecruiser which had been cancelled for exceeding the constraints of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty. The design, which had been approved six months after the treaty was signed, had a main armament of 16-inch (406 mm) guns to match the firepower of the American Colorado and Japanese Nagato classes in the battleline in a ship displacing no more than 35,000 long tons (36,000 t). 
Nelson had a length between perpendiculars of 660 feet (201.2 m) and an overall length of 709 feet 10 inches (216.4 m), a beam of 106 feet (32.3 m), and a draught of 30 feet 4 inches (9.2 m) at mean standard load. She displaced 33,300 long tons (33,800 t) at standard load and 37,780 long tons (38,390 t) at deep load. Her crew numbered 1,361 officers and ratings when serving as a flagship and 1,314 as a private ship.  The ship was powered by two sets of Brown-Curtis geared steam turbines, each driving one shaft, using steam from eight Admiralty 3-drum boilers. The turbines were rated at 45,000 shaft horsepower (34,000 kW) and intended to give the ship a maximum speed of 23 knots. During her sea trials on 26 May 1927, Nelson reached a top speed of 23.6 knots (43.7 km/h 27.2 mph) from 46,031 shp (34,325 kW). The ship carried enough fuel oil to give her a range of 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km 8,100 mi) at a cruising speed of 16 knots (30 km/h 18 mph). 
Armament and fire control Edit
The main battery of the Nelson-class ships consisted of nine breech-loading (BL) 16-inch guns in three turrets forward of the superstructure. Designated 'A', 'B' and 'C' from front to rear, 'B' turret superfired over the others. Their secondary armament consisted of a dozen BL 6-inch (152 mm) Mk XXII guns in twin-gun turrets aft of the superstructure, three turrets on each broadside. Their anti-aircraft (AA) armament consisted of six quick-firing (QF) 4.7-inch (120 mm) Mk VIII guns in unshielded single mounts and eight QF 2-pounder (40-millimetre (1.6 in)) guns in single mounts. The ships were fitted with two submerged 24.5-inch (622 mm) torpedo tubes, one on each broadside, angled 10° off the centreline. 
The Nelsons were built with two director-control towers fitted with 15-foot (4.6 m) rangefinders to control the main guns. One was mounted above the bridge and the other was at the aft end of the superstructure. Each turret was also fitted with a 41-foot (12.5 m) rangefinder. A back-up director for the main armament was positioned on the roof of the conning tower in an armoured hood. The secondary armament was controlled by four directors equipped with 12-foot (3.7 m) rangefinders. One pair were mounted on each side of the main director on the bridge roof and the others were abreast the aft main director. The anti-aircraft directors were situated on a tower abaft the main-armament director with a 12-foot high-angle rangefinder in the middle of the tower. A pair of torpedo-control directors with 15-foot rangefinders were positioned abreast the funnel. 
The ships' waterline belt consisted of Krupp cemented armour (KC) that was 14 inches (356 mm) thick between the main gun barbettes and thinned to 13 inches (330 mm) over the engine and boiler rooms as well as the six-inch magazines, but did not reach either the bow or the stern. To improve its ability to deflect plunging fire, its upper edge was inclined 18° outward.  The ends of the armoured citadel were closed off by transverse bulkheads of non-cemented armour 8 and 12 inches (203 and 305 mm) thick at the forward end and 4 and 10 inches (102 and 254 mm) thick at the aft end. The faces of the main-gun turrets were protected by 16-inch of KC armour while the turret sides were 9 to 11 inches (229 to 279 mm) thick and the roof armour plates measured 7.25 inches (184 mm) in thickness. The KC armour of the barbettes ranged in thickness from 12 to 15 inches (305 to 381 mm). 
The top of the armoured citadel of the Nelson-class ships was protected by an armoured deck that rested on the top of the belt armour. Its non-cemented armour plates ranged in thickness from 6.25 inches (159 mm) over the main-gun magazines to 3.75 inches (95 mm) over the propulsion machinery spaces and the secondary magazines. Aft of the citadel was an armoured deck 4.25 inches (108 mm) thick at the level of the lower edge of the belt armour that extended almost to the end of the stern to cover the steering gear. The conning tower's KC armour was 12 to 14 inches (305 to 356 mm) thick with a 6.5-inch (170 mm) roof. The secondary-gun turrets were protected by 1–1.5 inches (25–38 mm) of non-cemented armour. 
Underwater protection for the Nelsons was provided by a double bottom 5 feet (1.5 m) deep and a torpedo protection system. It consisted of an empty outer watertight compartment and an inner water-filled compartment. They had a total depth of 12 feet (3.7 m) and were backed by a torpedo bulkhead 1.5 inches thick. 
The high-angle directors and rangefinder and their platform were replaced by a new circular platform for the High Angle Control System (HACS) Mk I director in May–June 1930. By March 1934, the single two-pounder guns and the starboard torpedo director were removed and replaced by a single octuple two-pounder "pom-pom" mount on the starboard side of the funnel. It was provided with a Mk I director mounted on the bridge roof. In 1934–1935, Nelson was fitted with a pair of quadruple mounts for Vickers 0.5 in (12.7 mm) AA machineguns that were positioned on the forward superstructure. The ship was also fitted with a crane to handle a Supermarine Seagull biplane flying boat carried for test purposes the crane was retained after the end of the trials. Sometime in 1936–1937, she received her portside "pom-pom" and its director. In addition gun shields were fitted to the 4.7-inch guns although they were removed by March 1938. During her refit from June 1937 to January 1938, Nelson had her high-angle director tower reinforced and enlarged to accommodate a pair of HACS Mk III directors and new non-cemented deck armour was installed. Like the aft deck armour, it was at the level of the bottom of the armour belt, and extended forward from the front of the citadel almost to the bow ranging in thickness from 4 inches (102 mm) close to the citadel to 2.5 inches (64 mm) near the bow. 
While under repair from January–August 1940 after being mined in December 1939, Nelson had her aft 6-inch directors replaced by a pair of octuple 2-pounder "pom-pom" mounts and another was added on the quarterdeck. She was also fitted with a Type 279 early-warning radar. Gun shields were reinstalled on the 4.7-inch guns and a pair of four 20-tube 7-inch (178 mm) UP rocket launchers were mounted on the roofs of 'B' and 'C' turrets. These changes increased the size of her crew to 1,452. 
During her repairs after being torpedoed in October 1941, Nelson had her torpedo tubes and UP rocket launchers removed and an octuple 2-pounder "pom-pom" mount was installed on the roof of 'B' turret. A pair of 20-millimetre (0.8 in) Oerlikon AA guns were installed on the roof of 'C' turret and eleven more were mounted in various places on the superstructure all of which were in single mounts. The existing "pom-pom" directors were replaced by Mk III models and three additional directors were fitted. Each of these directors was equipped with a Type 282 gunnery radar. The HACS directors received Type 285 gunnery radars while the forward main-armament director was fitted with a Type 284 gunnery radar. The ship was also equipped with a Type 273 surface-search radar and four Type 283 radars for using the 16- and 6-inch guns in barrage (anti-aircraft) fire. Another Oerlikon gun was added to the roof of 'C' turret during a refit in September–October 1942. The 0.5-inch Vickers machine guns were removed and 26 single Oerlikon guns were added in May–June 1943 five of which were on the roof of 'C' turret and the other were mounted on the deck and the superstructure. 
While refitting in the United States in late 1944 to prepare her for operations in the Pacific Ocean, her anti-aircraft armament was augmented with 21 more Oerlikon guns for a total of 61 weapons. The back-up director and its armoured hood were replaced by a new platform for a pair of quadruple mounts for 40 mm Bofors AA guns another pair of quadruple mounts were added abaft the funnel. Most of the "pom-pom" directors were replaced by four Mk 51 directors for the Bofors guns. These additions increased the ship's deep displacement to 44,054 long tons (44,761 t) and her crew to 1,631–1,650 men. 
Nelson, named after Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson,  was the third ship of her name to serve in the Royal Navy.  She was laid down on 28 December 1922 as part of the 1922 Naval Programme at Armstrong Whitworth's Low Walker shipyard in North Tyneside, Newcastle upon Tyne  and was launched on 3 September 1925. After completing her preliminary sea trials, she was commissioned on 15 August 1927 at a cost of £7,504,055.  The Nelson-class ships received several nicknames: Nelsol and Rodnol after the Royal Fleet Auxiliary oil tankers with a prominent amidships superstructure and names ending in "ol", The Queen's Mansions after a resemblance between her superstructure and the Queen Anne's Mansions block of flats, the pair of boot, the ugly sisters and the Cherry Tree class as they were cut down by the Washington Naval Treaty. Nelson ' s trials resumed after she was formally commissioned and continued in October the ship entered service on 21 October as the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet (renamed as Home Fleet in March 1932) and remained so, aside from refits or repairs, until 1 April 1941. Prince George, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary, served aboard her as a lieutenant on the Admiral's staff until his transfer to HMS Durban in 1928.  In April 1928, the ship hosted King Amanullah of Afghanistan during exercises off Portland. 
On 29 March 1931 she collided with the steamship SS West Wales, of Cardiff, Wales, in foggy conditions off Cape Gilano, Spain, although neither vessel was badly damaged.  Nelson ' s damage was repaired in July.  In mid-September, the crew of Nelson took part in the Invergordon Mutiny when they refused orders to go to sea for an exercise, although they relented after several days when the Admiralty reduced the severity of the pay cuts that prompted the mutiny.  On 12 January 1934 she ran aground on Hamilton's Shoal, just off Southsea, as she was about to depart with the Home Fleet for the spring cruise in the West Indies. After removing some supplies and equipment, the ship floated off during the next high tide, undamaged. The subsequent investigation did not find any of the ship's officers at fault, attributing the incident to her poor handling at low speed. Nelson participated in King George V's Silver Jubilee Fleet Review in Spithead on 16 July 1935 and then King George VI's Coronation Fleet Review on 20 May 1937. After a lengthy refit later that year, the ship visited Lisbon, Portugal, together with her sister Rodney in February 1938. 
Second World War Edit
When Great Britain declared war on Nazi Germany on 3 September 1939, Nelson and the bulk of the Home Fleet were unsuccessfully patrolling the waters between Iceland, Norway and Scotland for German blockade runners and then did much the same off the Norwegian coast from 6–10 September. On 25–26 September she helped to cover the salvage and rescue operations of the damaged submarine HMS Spearfish. A month later, the ship covered an iron ore convoy from Narvik, Norway. On 30 October Nelson was unsuccessfully attacked by the German submarine U-56 near the Orkney Islands and was hit by two of the three torpedoes fired at a range of 870 yards (800 m), none of which exploded. After the sinking of the armed merchant cruiser Rawalpindi off the coast of Iceland on 23 November by the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, Nelson and her sister participated in the futile pursuit of them. On 4 December 1939 she detonated a magnetic mine (laid by U-31) at the entrance to Loch Ewe on the Scottish coast and was under repair in HM Dockyard, Portsmouth until August 1940. The mine blew a 10-by-6-foot (3.0 by 1.8 m) hole in the hull forward of 'A' turret which flooded the torpedo compartment and some adjacent compartments. The flooding caused a small list and caused the ship to trim down by the bow. No one was killed, but 74 sailors were wounded. 
After returning to service in August, Nelson, Rodney and the battlecruiser Hood were transferred from Scapa Flow to Rosyth, Scotland, in case of invasion. When the signal from the armed merchant cruiser Jervis Bay that she was being attacked by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer on 5 November was received by the Admiralty, Nelson and Rodney were deployed to block the gap between Iceland and the Faroe Islands, although Admiral Scheer headed for the South Atlantic afterwards. When the Admiralty learned that Gneisenau and Scharnhorst were attempting to breakout into the North Atlantic to resume commerce raiding operations, Nelson, Rodney and the battlecruiser Renown were ordered on 25 January 1941 to assume a position south of Iceland where they could intercept them. After spotting a pair of British cruisers on 28 January, the German ships turned away and were not pursued. 
Nelson became a private ship on 1 April  and she was detached to escort Convoy WS.7 from the UK to South Africa, visiting Freetown, Sierra Leone, on the 4th.  On the return voyage she and the aircraft carrier Eagle passed the German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis at a range of 7,700 yards (7,000 m) during the night of 18 May in the South Atlantic without spotting the German ship. After the Battle of the Denmark Strait on 24 May, the German battleship Bismarck was spotted two days later heading for France and Nelson and Eagle were ordered to join the pursuit from their position north of Freetown. Bismarck was sunk the following day well before Nelson and her consort could reach her.  On 1 June the battleship was assigned to escort Convoy SL.75 to the UK. After the German supply ship Gonzenheim was able to evade the armed merchant cruiser Esperance Bay on 4 June, Nelson was detached to intercept the German ship, which was scuttled by her crew when they spotted Nelson approaching later that day. After arriving in the UK, the ship rejoined the Home Fleet. 
Mediterranean service Edit
On 11 July,  the ship was assigned to escort Convoy WS.9C  that consisted of merchantmen that were to pass into the Mediterranean to deliver troops and supplies to Malta. Once they passed Gibraltar, the escorts were designated as Force X and they were to be reinforced by Force H while in the Western Mediterranean. The ships entered the Mediterranean on the night of 20/21 July and they were attacked by Italian aircraft beginning on the morning of the 23rd. Nelson was not engaged and joined Force H later that day as the merchantmen and their escort continued onwards to Malta. The cruisers from Force X rejoined them two days later and the combined force arrived back in Gibraltar on 27 July.  On 31 July–4 August, Force H provided distant cover to another convoy to Malta (Operation Style).  Vice-Admiral James Somerville, commander of Force H, transferred his flag to Nelson on 8 August.  Several weeks later, the ship participated in Operation Mincemeat, during which Force H escorted a minelayer to Livorno to lay its mines while Ark Royal ' s aircraft attacked Northern Sardinia as a diversion. On 13 September, Force H escorted Ark Royal and the aircraft carrier Furious into the Western Mediterranean as they flew off 45 Hawker Hurricane fighters to Malta. 
As part of a deception operation when Operation Halberd, another mission to convey troops and supplies to Malta, began on 24 September, Somerville's flag was transferred to Rodney while Nelson and some escorting destroyers departed Gibraltar heading westwards as if the former ship had relieved the latter. Rodney and the rest of Force H headed eastwards with Nelson and her escorts joining the main body during the night. The British were spotted the following morning and attacked by Regia Aeronautica (Royal Italian Air Force) aircraft the next day. A Savoia-Marchetti SM.84 torpedo bomber penetrated the screen and dropped a torpedo at a range of 450 yards (410 m). It blew a 30-by-15-foot (9.1 by 4.6 m) hole in the bow, wrecked the torpedo compartment and caused extensive flooding there were no casualties amongst the crew. Although she was down at the bow by eight feet (2.4 m) and ultimately limited to a speed of 12 knots (22 km/h 14 mph) to reduce the pressure on her bulkheads, Nelson remained with the fleet to so that the Italians would not know that she had been damaged. After emergency repairs were made in Gibraltar, the ship proceeded to Rosyth where she was under repair until May 1942. 
Nelson was assigned to the Eastern Fleet after she finished working up and departed 31 May,  escorting Convoy WS.19P from the Clyde to Freetown  and its continuation WS.19PF to Durban, South Africa, en route. She was recalled on 26 June  to participate in Operation Pedestal, a major effort to resupply Malta. Reaching Scapa Flow exactly a month later, she became the flagship of Vice-Admiral Edward Syfret, commander of the operation, the following day. The convoy departed the Clyde on 3 August and conducted training before passing through the Strait of Gibraltar on the night of 9/10 August. The convoy was spotted later that morning and the Axis attacks began the following day with the sinking of Eagle by a German submarine. Despite repeated attacks by Axis aircraft and submarines, Nelson was not damaged and made no claims to have shot down any aircraft before the convoy's capital ships turned back before reaching the Skerki Banks between Sicily and Tunisia late in the day on the 12th. The ship returned to Scapa Flow afterwards. 
She was transferred to Force H in October to support Operation Torch, departing on the 30th and she arrived in Gibraltar on 6 November. Two days later Force H provided cover against any interference by the Regia Marina for the invading forces in the Mediterranean as they began their landings. Syfret, now commander of Force H, hoisted his flag aboard Nelson on 15 November. Force H covered a troop convoy from Gibraltar to Algiers, French Algeria, in January 1943. Syfret temporarily transferred his flag to the battleship King George V in May as Nelson returned to Scapa Flow to train for Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. The ship departed Scapa on 17 June and arrived at Gibraltar on the 23rd. 
On 9 July Force H, with Nelson, Rodney and the carrier Indomitable, rendezvoused in the Gulf of Sirte with the battleships Warspite, Valiant and the carrier Formidable coming from Alexandria, Egypt to form the covering force for the invasion. The following day, they began patrolling in the Ionian Sea to deter any attempt by the Regia Marina to interfere with the landings in Sicily. On 31 August, Nelson and Rodney bombarded coastal artillery positions between Reggio Calabria and Pessaro in preparation for Operation Baytown, the amphibious invasion of Calabria, Italy. The sisters covered the amphibious landings at Salerno (Operation Avalanche) on 9 September with Nelson using her main guns in "barrage" mode to deter attacking German torpedo bombers. The Italian armistice was signed between General Dwight Eisenhower and Marshal Pietro Badoglio aboard the ship on 29 September. 
Nelson departed Gibraltar on 31 October for England to rejoin the Home Fleet. She provided naval gunfire support during the Normandy landings in June 1944, but was badly damaged after hitting two mines on the 18th. Temporarily repaired in Portsmouth, the ship was sent to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in the United States on 22 June for repairs. She returned to Britain in January 1945 and was then assigned to the Eastern Fleet, arriving in Colombo, Ceylon, on 9 July. The ship became the fleet flagship three days later. Nelson was used on the western coast of the Malayan Peninsula for three months, taking part in Operation Livery. The Japanese forces there formally surrendered aboard her at George Town, Penang, on 2 September 1945. Ten days later, the ship was present when the Japanese forces in all of South-east Asia surrendered in Singapore. 
Nelson was relieved as flagship on 20 September and departed for home on 13 October. She arrived at Portsmouth on 17 November and became the flagship of the Home Fleet a week later. King George V replaced her as flagship on 9 April 1946 and Nelson became a training ship in July. When the Training Squadron was formed on 14 August, the ship became flagship of the Rear-Admiral that commanded the training battleships. She was relieved as flagship by the battleship Anson in October and became a private ship. Nelson was slightly damaged by a collision with the submarine Sceptre in Portland on 15 April 1947. The ship was placed in reserve on 20 October 1947 at Rosyth and was listed for disposal on 19 May 1948. From 4 June to 23 September she was used as a target ship for 2,000-pound (910 kg) armour-piercing aerial bombs to evaluate their ability to penetrate the ship's armoured deck. Nelson was turned over to the British Iron & Steel Corporation on 5 January 1949 and was allocated to Thos W Ward for scrapping. The ship arrived at Inverkeithing on 15 March to begin demolition. 
1st July 1914 HMS Lord Nelson
HMS Lord Nelson - Dardanelles 1915
Name: HMS Lord Nelson, Builder: Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company, Jarrow
Cost: £1,651,339, Laid down: 18 May 1905, Launched: 4 September 1906, Completed: October 1908
Commissioned: 1 December 1908, Decommissioned: May 1919, Fate: Sold for scrapping, 4 June 1920
HMS Lord Nelson was a Lord Nelson-class pre-dreadnought battleship launched in 1906 and completed in 1908. She was the Royal Navy's last pre-dreadnought. The ship was flagship of the Channel Fleet when World War I began in 1914. Lord Nelson was transferred to the Mediterranean Sea in early 1915 to participate in the Dardanelles Campaign. She remained there, becoming flagship of the Eastern Mediterranean Squadron, which was later redesignated the Aegean Squadron. After the Ottoman surrender in 1918 the ship moved to the Black Sea where she remained as flagship before returning to the United Kingdom in May 1919. Lord Nelson was placed into reserve upon her arrival and sold for scrap in June 1920.
Construction and description
HMS Lord Nelson was laid down by Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company at Jarrow on 18 May 1905 and launched on 4 September 1906. Her completion was greatly delayed by the diversion of her 12-inch (305 mm) guns and turrets to expedite completion of Dreadnought, and she was not fully completed until October 1908. Although she was not the last pre-dreadnought laid down for the Royal Navy, she was the last one commissioned.
Lord Nelson displaced 17,820 long tons (18,106 t) at deep load as built, with a length of 443 feet 6 inches (135.2 m), a beam of 79 feet 6 inches (24.2 m), and a draft of 26 feet (7.9 m). She was powered by two four-cylinder inverted vertical triple-expansion steam engines, which developed a total of 16,750 indicated horsepower (12,490 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 18 knots (33 km/h 21 mph).
She was armed with four 12-inch guns arranged in two twin gun turrets, one turret each fore and aft. Her secondary armament consisted of ten 9.2-inch (234 mm) guns, eight in twin gun turrets on each corner of the superstructure, and a single gun turret between them. For defence against torpedo boats, Lord Nelson carried twenty-four QF 12-pounder 18 cwt guns and two 3-pounder guns. She also mounted five submerged 18-inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes for which 23 torpedoes were stowed aboard.
Service Pre-World War I
HMS Lord Nelson was first commissioned in reserve on 1 December 1908 at Chatham Dockyard, being attached to the Nore Division of the Home Fleet with a nucleus crew. She first went into full commission on 5 January 1909 to relieve the battleship HMS Magnificent as flagship of the Nore Division, Home Fleet, and in April 1909 became part of the First Division, Home Fleet. She was transferred in January 1911 to the Second Division of the Home Fleet, and in May 1912 to the 2nd Battle Squadron. She was temporarily attached in September 1913 to the 4th Battle Squadron. In April 1914, she relieved the battleship HMS Queen as Flagship, Vice Admiral, Channel Fleet.
World War I
At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Lord Nelson became flagship of the Channel Fleet and was based at Portland. With other ships, she covered the safe transport of the British Expeditionary Force, under the command of Sir John French, to France. On 14 November 1914, she transferred to Sheerness to guard the English coast against the possibility of a German invasion. The ship returned to Portland Harbour on 30 December 1914 and patrolled the English Channel until February 1915.
Dardanelles campaign, 1915-1916
In February 1915, Lord Nelson was ordered to the Dardanelles to participate in the Dardanelles Campaign. She departed Portland on 18 February 1915 and joined the British Dardanelles Squadron at Mudros on 26 February 1915. She took part in the bombardment of the inner forts and supported the initial landings in early March 1915. The Ottoman Turkish forts engaged her heavily on 7 March 1915 and hit her several times, including by a stone cannon ball which landed on the deck and was kept as a souvenir by the Flag Officer, Arthur Baker, at Longcross Church she suffered damage to her superstructure and rigging and was holed by one hit below the waterline which flooded two coal bunkers. After repairs at Malta, the ship returned to take part in the main attack on the Narrows forts on 18 March 1915. Later she bombarded Ottoman field batteries on 6 May 1915 prior to the Second Battle of Krithia.
Lord Nelson relieved the battleship Queen Elizabeth as flagship of the British Dardanelles Squadron on 12 May 1915, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Rosslyn Erskine-Wemyss. On 20 June 1915, she bombarded docks and shipping at Gallipoli, aided by the spotting of a kite balloon, and inflicted significant damage. Lord Kitchener made his headquarters aboard her in November 1915 and, on 22 December 1915, Lord Nelson hoisted the flag of Vice Admiral John de Roebeck when he succeeded Wemyss.
Mediterranean operations, 1916-1918
With the end of the Dardanelles Campaign in January 1916, during which Lord Nelson had suffered no casualties, British naval forces in the area were reorganized and Lord Nelson became flagship of the Eastern Mediterranean Squadron, which was redesignated the Aegean Squadron in August 1917 under either name, the squadron was dispersed throughout the area to protect Allied-held islands, support the British Army at Salonika, and guard against any attempted breakout from the Dardanelles by the German battlecruiser Goeben and light cruiser Breslau. Lord Nelson spent the remainder of the war based at Salonika and Mudros, alternating between the two bases with her sister ship Agamemnon the ship was based mostly at Salonika, with Agamemnon at Mudros.
According to naval historian Ian Buxton, the most important role of the Royal Navy was to blockade the Dardanelles and thus guard the Eastern Mediterranean against a breakout by Goeben. On 12 January 1918, Rear-Admiral Arthur Hayes-Sadler hoisted his flag aboard Lord Nelson at Mudros as the new commander of the Aegean Squadron. Needing transportation to Salonika for a conference with the British Army commander there, and finding his personal yacht unavailable, Hayes-Sadler opted to have Lord Nelson take him there and thus she was not present when Goeben and Breslau finally made their breakout attempt on 20 January 1918. The ship could not get back to the Dardanelles in time to participate in the resulting Battle of Imbros or intercept Goeben before she gained shelter in the Dardanelles. Lord Nelson was given a short refit at Malta in October 1918.
Post-World War I
Lord Nelson was part of the British squadron that went to Constantinople in November 1918 following the armistice with the Ottoman Empire, after which she served as flagship in the Black Sea. In April 1919, she conveyed Grand Duke Nicholas and Grand Duke Peter of Russia from the Black Sea to Genoa.
Lord Nelson returned to the United Kingdom in May 1919 and was placed in reserve until August, when she was placed on the sale list. On 4 June 1920, she was sold to Stanlee Shipbreaking Company of Dover. She was resold to Slough Trading Company on 8 November 1920, then again to German scrappers. She was towed to Germany for scrapping in January 1922.
20th January 1918 Battle of Imbros 1918 The Battle of Imbros was a naval action that took place during the First World War. The battle occurred on 20 January 1918 when an Ottoman squadron engaged a flotilla of the British Royal Navy off the island of Imbros in the Aegean Sea. A lack of heavy Allied warships in the area allowed the Ottoman battlecruiser Yavûz Sultân Selîm and light cruiser Midilli to sortie into the Mediterranean and attack the British monitors and destroyers at Imbros before assaulting the naval base at Mudros. Although the Ottoman forces managed to complete their objective of destroying the British monitors at Imbros, the battle turned sour for them as they sailed through a minefield while withdrawing. Midilli was sunk and Yavûz Sultân Selîm heavily damaged. Although Yavûz Sultân Selîm managed to beach herself within the Dardanelles, she was subjected to days of air attacks until she was towed to safety. With the most modern cruiser of the Ottoman Navy sunk and her only battlecruiser out of action, the battle effectively curtailed the Ottoman Navy's offensive capability until the end of the war.
By January 1918, the situation for the Ottoman Army in Palestine had begun to falter. The new German commander of the Ottoman Black Sea fleet, Rebeur Paschwitz, decided to try to relieve Allied naval pressure on Palestine by making a sortie out of the Dardanelles. Several British naval elements of the Aegean Squadron had been taking refuge in Kusu Bay off the islands of Imbros and they were a prime target for an Ottoman raid. After raiding what shipping could be found at Imbros, Rebeur-Paschwitz would then turn to Mudros and attack the British naval base there. The Allied force guarding the Dardanelles consisted of a few heavy British and French units as well as several monitors tasked with coastal bombardment. Escorting the monitors were several British destroyers. The pre-dreadnought battleships HMS Agamemnon and HMS Lord Nelson were also tasked with guarding the area, but the Lord Nelson had been tasked with ferrying the squadron's admiral to a conference at Salonika. Taking advantage of the absence of the British battleship, the Germans and Ottomans decided to dispatch the battlecruiser Yavûz Sultân Selîm (ex-SMS Goeben) and the light cruiser Midilli (ex-SMS Breslau) to attack the area. The Allied forces at Imbros on 20 January consisted of the monitors HMS Raglan and HMS M28 as well as the Acheron-class destroyers HMS Tigress and HMS Lizard. Agamemnon was nearby at Mudros, but she was much too slow to chase down the Ottoman ships if they wanted to avoid engaging her. Without the Agamemnon and Lord Nelson the British were severely undergunned in comparison to the Ottoman ships. The Tigress and Lizard both were armed with two 4-inch guns, two 12 pounders and two 21-inch torpedo tubes. They were swift ships capable of making 27 knots at best speed. The two monitors present at Imbros were better suited for coastal bombardment than naval combat, though their heavy guns gave them an element of firepower the destroyers lacked. Raglan, an Abercrombie-class monitor, was armed with two 14-inch guns, two 6-inch guns and two 3-inch guns. M28 was a smaller vessel than Raglan and as such carried a lighter armament sporting a single 9.2-inch cannon, one 12 pounder, as well as a six pounder anti-aircraft gun. The biggest weak point of both Raglan and M28 were their low top speeds of 7 and 11 knots respectively, giving them little capability to escape an Ottoman raid. In contrast to the British force, the Ottoman vessels were both fast and heavily armed. Midilli sported eight 150 mm cannons, 120 mines, two torpedo tubes, and a top speed of 25 knots. Yavûz Sultân Selîm was the most powerful ship in the Ottoman fleet with a top speed of 25.5 knots, ten 283 mm guns, twelve 150 mm guns, a dozen 8.8-centimetre guns and four torpedo tubes. Thus, with no heavy units available to repel them, there was little in the means of effective Allied opposition when the Ottomans set out on their mission.
Setting out towards Imbros, the Yavûz Sultân Selîm struck a mine on transit to the island, but the damage was insignificant and the two Ottoman vessels were able to continue their mission. Yavûz Sultân Selîm then proceeded to bombard the British signal station at Kephalo Point while the Midilli was sent ahead to guard the entrance of Kusu Bay. As the Yavûz Sultân Selîm and Midilli approached Kusu Bay, they were sighted by the destroyer HMS Lizard at 0530. The Lizard attempted to engage the Ottoman ships, but could not close to torpedo range due to heavy fire from her opponents. The Yavûz Sultân Selîm soon sighted the two British monitors taking refuge in the bay and broke off from Lizard to engage them. As Yavûz Sultân Selîm attacked the monitors, Midilli continued to duel with Lizard who was then joined by the destroyer HMS Tigress. Lizard and Tigress attempted to shield the monitors from Yavûz Sultân Selîm by laying a smoke screen, but this was ineffective. The monitors were both much too slow to evade Yavûz Sultân Selîm and she was able to score numerous hits on the Raglan, hitting her foretop and killing her gunnery and direction officers. The Raglan attempted to return fire with its 6 and 14 inch guns, but scored no hits on the German vessels before her main armament was knocked out when a shell pierced its casemate and ignited the ammunition within it. Shortly after she was disarmed, the Raglan was hit in her magazine by one of Goeben's 11 inch shells causing the monitor to sink. After Raglan was sunk, the Ottoman battlecruiser began turned her attention to HMS M28, striking her amidships and setting her alight before she was sunk when her magazine exploded at 0600. With the two monitors sunk, the Ottomans decided to break off the engagement and head south in an attempt to raid the allied naval base at Mudros. Upon withdrawing from Kusu Bay, the Ottoman force accidentally sailed into a minefield and were shadowed by the two British destroyers they had previously engaged. In addition to the destroyers, several British and Greek aircraft were launched from Mudros to engage the Germans. In the meantime, Greek ace Aristeidis Moraitinis, managed to shoot down three enemy seaplanes with his Sopwith Camel. With the approach of enemy aircraft the Midilli, which had been following the Yavûz Sultân Selîm, took the lead so as to take advantage of her heavier anti-aircraft armament. Midilli then struck a mine near her aft funnel and shortly afterwards Yavûz Sultân Selîm hit one as well. Within half an hour the Midilli had struck four more mines and began to sink. The Yavûz Sultân Selîm attempted to rescue the Midilli but also struck a mine and was forced to withdraw. Fleeing towards the safety of the Dardanelles, Yavûz Sultân Selîm was pursued by Lizard and Tigress. In order to cover the Yavûz Sultân Selîm four Ottoman destroyers and an old cruiser rushed out to engage the British destroyers. After the lead Ottoman destroyer began to take hits, the Ottoman squadron was forced to withdraw back up the Dardanelles. As the British destroyers approached Cape Helles, they were fired upon by Ottoman shore batteries and withdrew. In addition to the Lizard and Tigress, a dozen British seaplanes from Ark Royal were launched to finish off the Yavûz Sultân Selîm. Although they managed to score two hits against the battlecruiser, the Ottoman ship was by this time near the coast. The combined efforts from ten Ottoman seaplanes as well as heavy anti-aircraft fire were able to drive off the air attacks, downing one Sopwith Baby and damaging another aircraft. The four Ottoman destroyers returned and guarded the Yavûz Sultân Selîm as she sailed up the Dardnelles. Severely damaged, the Ottoman battlecruiser ran aground on a sandbar off Nagara Point and became stranded. The next six days saw further air attacks by Allied seaplanes against the Ottoman battlecruiser, with six hits being scored against her. Ottoman seaplanes and heavy shore batteries responded to the raids and were able to guard the Yavûz Sultân Selîm and beat back the air attacks. Despite the air raids, the Yavûz Sultân Selîm suffered only superficial damage from them as the 65-pound bombs used by the British were too small to be effective. Allied commanders proposed plans for a submarine raid against the battlecruiser, but the only submarine attached to the Aegean squadron, HMS E12, had mechanical problems and was inoperative. A raid into the Dardanelles was therefore postponed until a working submarine could be dispatched to the area.
With no way to free herself, the Yavûz Sultân Selîm remained stranded on the sandbar until 26 January when the Turgut Reis finally arrived and towed her back into the Black Sea. In one last effort to destroy the battlecruiser, the British sent the submarine HMS E14 into the Dardnelles on 27 January. The Yavûz Sultân Selîm had already left the area and so E14 began sailing back to Allied waters after discovering the battlecruiser's absence. Sighting an Ottoman freighter, the British submarine attempted to engage her with torpedoes. The second torpedo fired exploded prematurely. In the resulting explosion the submarine was damaged and was forced to try to flee the straits. She came under heavy fire from the nearby Ottoman shore batteries and was eventually beached with her commander, Geoffrey Saxton White, and another sailor killed and seven captured. White was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his efforts to beach the submarine and save its crew. Although the Ottoman force was able to destroy the British monitors they set out to engage, their losses traversing the minefield after the engagement in Kusu Bay negated any impact the British losses had in their favour. With the Midilli sunk and Yavûz Sultân Selîm severely damaged, the threat of the Ottoman Navy to the Allies was greatly reduced for the remainder of the war. Despite the removal of these two vessels from the Ottoman battle line, the commanders of the British Aegean Squadron were still criticized for having dispatched both of their heavy units too far from the Dardanelles to engage the Ottomans. If the Agamemnon or Lord Nelson had been at their posts during the Ottoman raid, the Yavûz Sultân Selîm might have been destroyed, eliminating her threat once and for all rather than having her escape.
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Horatio Nelson was born on 29 September 1758 in a rectory in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, England, the sixth of eleven children of the Reverend Edmund Nelson and his wife Catherine Suckling.  He was named "Horatio" after his godfather Horatio Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford (1723–1809),  the first cousin of his maternal grandmother Anne Turner (1691–1768). Horatio Walpole was a younger grandson of Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, the de facto first Prime Minister of Great Britain. 
Catherine Suckling lived in the village of Barsham, Suffolk, and married the Reverend Edmund Nelson at Beccles church, Suffolk, in 1749. Nelson's aunt, Alice Nelson was the wife of Reverend Robert Rolfe, Rector of Hilborough, Norfolk and grandmother of Sir Robert Monsey Rolfe.  Rolfe twice served as Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain.
Nelson attended Paston Grammar School, North Walsham, until he was 12 years old, and also attended King Edward VI's Grammar School in Norwich. His naval career began on 1 January 1771, when he reported to the third-rate HMS Raisonnable as an ordinary seaman and coxswain under his maternal uncle, Captain Maurice Suckling, who commanded the vessel. Shortly after reporting aboard, Nelson was appointed a midshipman and began officer training. Early in his service, Nelson discovered that he suffered from seasickness, a chronic complaint that dogged him for the rest of his life. 
HMS Raisonnable had been commissioned during a period of tension with Spain, but when this passed, Suckling was transferred to the Nore guardship HMS Triumph and Nelson was dispatched to serve aboard the West Indiamen Mary Ann of the merchant shipping firm of Hibbert, Purrier and Horton, in order to gain experience at sea.  He sailed from Medway, Kent, on 25 July 1771 sailing to Jamaica and Tobago, returning to Plymouth on 7 July 1772.  He twice crossed the Atlantic, before returning to serve under his uncle as the commander of Suckling's longboat, which carried men and dispatches to and from the shore. Nelson then learned of a planned expedition under the command of Constantine Phipps, intended to survey a passage in the Arctic by which it was hoped that India could be reached: the fabled North-East Passage. 
At his nephew's request, Suckling arranged for Nelson to join the expedition as coxswain  to Commander Lutwidge aboard the converted bomb vessel HMS Carcass. The expedition reached within ten degrees of the North Pole, but, unable to find a way through the dense ice floes, was forced to turn back. By 1800 Lutwidge began to circulate a story that while the ship had been trapped in the ice, Nelson had seen and pursued a polar bear, before being ordered to return to the ship. Lutwidge's later version, in 1809, reported that Nelson and a companion had given chase to the bear, but on being questioned why, replied that "I wished, Sir, to get the skin for my father." 
Nelson briefly returned to Triumph after the expedition's return to Britain in September 1773. Suckling then arranged for his transfer to HMS Seahorse, one of two ships about to sail for the East Indies. 
Nelson sailed for the East Indies on 19 November 1773 and arrived at the British outpost at Madras on 25 May 1774.  Nelson and Seahorse spent the rest of the year cruising off the coast and escorting merchantmen. With the outbreak of the First Anglo-Maratha War, the British fleet operated in support of the East India Company and in early 1775 Seahorse was dispatched to carry a cargo of the company's money to Bombay. On 19 February, two of Hyder Ali's ketches attacked Seahorse, which drove them off after a brief exchange of fire. This was Nelson's first experience of battle. 
The rest of the year he spent escorting convoys, during which he continued to develop his navigation and ship handling skills. In early 1776 Nelson contracted malaria and became seriously ill. He was discharged from Seahorse on 14 March and returned to England aboard HMS Dolphin.  Nelson spent the six-month voyage recuperating and had almost recovered by the time he arrived in Britain in September 1776. His patron, Suckling, had risen to the post of Comptroller of the Navy in 1775, and used his influence to help Nelson gain further promotion.   Nelson was appointed acting lieutenant aboard HMS Worcester, which was about to sail to Gibraltar. 
Worcester, under the command of Captain Mark Robinson, sailed as a convoy escort on 3 December and returned with another convoy in April 1777.  Nelson then travelled to London to take his lieutenant's examination on 9 April his examining board consisted of Captains John Campbell, Abraham North, and his uncle, Maurice Suckling. Nelson passed, and the next day received his commission and an appointment to HMS Lowestoffe, which was preparing to sail to Jamaica under Captain William Locker.  She sailed on 16 May, arrived on 19 July, and after reprovisioning, carried out several cruises in Caribbean waters. After the outbreak of the American War of Independence Lowestoffe took several prizes, one of which was taken into Navy service as the tender Little Lucy. Nelson asked for and was given command of her, and took her on two cruises of his own. 
As well as giving him his first taste of command, it gave Nelson the opportunity to explore his fledgling interest in science. During his first cruise, Nelson led an expeditionary party to the Caicos Islands,  where he made detailed notes of the wildlife and in particular a bird – now believed to be the white-necked jacobin.  Locker, impressed by Nelson's abilities, recommended him to the new commander-in-chief at Jamaica, Sir Peter Parker. Parker duly took Nelson onto his flagship, HMS Bristol.  The entry of the French into the war, in support of the Americans, meant further targets for Parker's fleet and it took many prizes towards the end of 1778, which brought Nelson an estimated £400 in prize money. Parker appointed him as Master and Commander of the brig HMS Badger on 8 December. 
Nelson and Badger spent most of 1779 cruising off the Central American coast, ranging as far as the British settlements at British Honduras (now Belize), and Nicaragua, but without much success at interception of enemy prizes.  On his return to Port Royal he learned that Parker had promoted him to post-captain on 11 June, and intended to give him another command. Nelson handed over the Badger to Cuthbert Collingwood while he awaited the arrival of his new ship, the 28-gun frigate HMS Hinchinbrook, [a] newly captured from the French.  While Nelson waited, news reached Parker that a French fleet under the command of Charles Hector, comte d'Estaing, was approaching Jamaica. Parker hastily organized his defences and placed Nelson in command of Fort Charles, which covered the approaches to Kingston.  D'Estaing instead headed north, and the anticipated invasion never materialised. Nelson duly took command of the Hinchinbrook on 1 September. 
Hinchinbrook sailed from Port Royal on 5 October 1779 and, in company with other British ships, proceeded to capture a number of American prizes.  On his return to Jamaica in December, Nelson began to be troubled by a recurrent attack of malaria. Nelson remained in the West Indies in order to take part in Major-General John Dalling's attempt to capture the Spanish colonies in Central America, including an assault on the Fortress of the Immaculate Conception, also called Castillo Viejo, on the San Juan River in Nicaragua. 
Hinchinbrook sailed from Jamaica in February 1780, as an escort for Dalling's invasion force. After sailing up the mouth of the San Juan River, Nelson, with some one thousand men and four small four-pounder cannon, obtained the surrender of Castillo Viejo and its 160 Spanish defenders after a two-week siege.  The British blew up the fort when they evacuated six months later after suffering many deaths due to disease and Nelson was praised for his efforts. 
Parker recalled Nelson and gave him command of the 44-gun frigate HMS Janus.  Nelson had fallen seriously ill in the jungles of Costa Rica, probably from a recurrence of malaria, and was unable to take command. During his time of convalescence he was nursed by a black "doctoress" named Cubah Cornwallis, the mistress of a fellow captain, William Cornwallis.  He was discharged in August and returned to Britain aboard HMS Lion,  arriving in late November. Nelson gradually recovered over several months, and soon began agitating for a command. He was appointed to the frigate HMS Albemarle on 15 August 1781. 
Captain of Albemarle Edit
Nelson received orders on 23 October 1781 to take the newly refitted Albemarle to sea. He was instructed to collect an inbound convoy of the Russia Company at Elsinore, and escort them back to Britain. For this operation, the Admiralty placed the frigates HMS Argo and HMS Enterprise under his command.  Nelson successfully organised the convoy and escorted it into British waters. He then left the convoy to return to port, but severe storms hampered him.  Gales almost wrecked Albemarle as she was a poorly designed ship and an earlier accident had left her damaged, but Nelson eventually brought her into Portsmouth in February 1782.  There the Admiralty ordered him to fit Albemarle for sea and join the escort for a convoy collecting at Cork in Ireland to sail for Quebec in Canada.  Nelson arrived off Newfoundland with the convoy in late May, then detached on a cruise to hunt American privateers. Nelson was generally unsuccessful he succeeded only in retaking several captured British merchant ships and capturing a number of small fishing boats and assorted craft. 
In August 1782, Nelson had a narrow escape from a far superior French force under Louis-Philippe de Vaudreuil, only evading them after a prolonged chase.  Nelson arrived at Quebec on 18 September.  He sailed again as part of the escort for a convoy to New York. He arrived in mid-November and reported to Admiral Samuel Hood, commander of the New York station.  At Nelson's request, Hood transferred him to his fleet and Albemarle sailed in company with Hood, bound for the West Indies.  On their arrival, the British fleet took up position off Jamaica to await the arrival of de Vaudreuil's force. Nelson and the Albemarle were ordered to scout the numerous passages for signs of the enemy, but it became clear by early 1783 that the French had eluded Hood. 
During his scouting operations, Nelson had developed a plan to attack the French garrison of the Turks Islands. Commanding a small flotilla of frigates and smaller vessels, he landed a force of 167 seamen and marines early on the morning of 8 March under a supporting bombardment.  The French were found to be heavily entrenched and after several hours Nelson called off the assault. Several of the officers involved criticised Nelson, but Hood does not appear to have reprimanded him.  Nelson spent the rest of the war cruising in the West Indies, where he captured a number of French and Spanish prizes.  After news of the peace reached Hood, Nelson returned to Britain in late June 1783. 
Island of Nevis and Marriage Edit
Nelson visited France in late 1783, stayed with acquaintances at Saint-Omer, and briefly attempted to learn French. He returned to England in January 1784, and attended court as part of Lord Hood's entourage.  Influenced by the factional politics of the time, he contemplated standing for Parliament as a supporter of William Pitt, but was unable to find a seat. 
In 1784, Nelson received command of the frigate HMS Boreas with the assignment to enforce the Navigation Acts in the vicinity of Antigua.  The Acts were unpopular with both the Americans and the colonies.  Nelson served on the station under Admiral Sir Richard Hughes, and often came into conflict with his superior officer over their differing interpretation of the Acts.  The captains of the American vessels Nelson had seized sued him for illegal seizure. Because the merchants of the nearby island of Nevis supported the American claim, Nelson was in peril of imprisonment he remained sequestered on Boreas for eight months, until the courts ruled in his favour. 
In the interim, Nelson met Frances "Fanny" Nisbet, a young widow from a Nevis plantation family.  Nelson developed an affection for her and her uncle, John Herbert, offered him a massive dowry and both uncle and niece hid the fact that the famed riches were a fiction, and that Fanny was no longer fertile due to a womb infection. Once engaged, Herbert offered nowhere near the money he had promised. Breaking an engagement was dishonourable,  so Nelson and Nisbet were married at Montpelier Estate on the island of Nevis on 11 March 1787, shortly before the end of his tour of duty in the Caribbean.  The marriage was registered at Fig Tree Church in St John's Parish on Nevis. Nelson returned to England in July, with Fanny following later. 
While Nelson was in the Caribbean he developed friendships with various plantation owners and grew to believe that the islands' economies relied heavily on the Atlantic slave trade. He is said by Grindal (2016) to have attempted to use his influence to thwart the abolitionist movement in Britain.  One of these friends was Simon Taylor, the wealthy owner of a sugar plantation in Jamaica employing slaves, at whose request to intervene in the public debate Nelson replied in 1805 that "while he had a tongue", he would "launch my voice against the damnable and cursed (sic)  doctrine of Wilberforce and his hypocritical allies". 
The letter was published in 1807 by the anti-abolitionist faction, some eighteen months after Nelson's death and therefore completely out of context, in an apparent attempt to bolster their cause prior to the parliamentary vote on the Abolition Bill. The wording of the letter as published in 1807 (not in Nelson's handwriting, and with a poor facsimile of his signature) appears quite out of character for Nelson whose many other surviving letters never express racist or pro-slavery sentiments. Comparison with the "pressed copy" of the original letter (now part of the Bridport papers held in the British Library) shows that the published copy had 25 alterations  distorting it to give a more anti-Abolitionist slant. Many of Nelson's actions indicate his position on the matter of slavery, most notably:
- Any West Indian slave escaping to a navy ship (including Nelson's) were signed on, paid, and treated the same as other crew members. At the end of their service they were discharged as free men. In fact, the bronze relief at the base of Nelson's column clearly shows the black George Ryan aged 23, with musket shooting the French alongside the dying Admiral. 
- In 1799 Nelson intervened to secure the release of 24 slaves being held in Portuguese galleys off Palermo. 
- In 1802 when it was proposed that West Indian plantation slaves should be replaced by free, paid industrious Chinese workers Nelson supported the idea. 
- In 1805 Nelson rescued the black Haitian General Joseph Chretien and his servant from the French. They asked if they could serve with Nelson, and Nelson recommended to the Admiralty that they be paid until they could be discharged and granted passage to Jamaica. The General's mission was to end slavery, a fact of which Nelson was well aware. The general and his servant were well treated and paid. 
- The Nelson family used to have a free black servant called Price. Nelson said of him he was ‘as good a man as ever lived’ and he suggested to Emma that she invite the elderly Price to live with them. In the event Price declined. 
During the peace Edit
Nelson remained with Boreas until she was paid off in November that year.  He and Fanny then divided their time between Bath and London, occasionally visiting Nelson's relations in Norfolk. In 1788, they settled at Nelson's childhood home at Burnham Thorpe.  Now in reserve on half pay, he attempted to persuade the Admiralty and other senior figures he was acquainted with, such as Hood, to provide him with a command. He was unsuccessful as there were too few ships in the peacetime navy and Hood did not intercede on his behalf. 
Nelson spent his time trying to find employment for former crew members, attending to family affairs, and cajoling contacts in the navy for a posting. In 1792 the French revolutionary government annexed the Austrian Netherlands (modern Belgium), which were traditionally preserved as a buffer state. The Admiralty recalled Nelson to service and gave him command of the 64-gun HMS Agamemnon in January 1793. On 1 February France declared war. 
Mediterranean service Edit
In May 1793, Nelson sailed as part of a division under the command of Vice Admiral William Hotham, joined later in the month by the rest of Lord Hood's fleet.  The force initially sailed to Gibraltar and, with the intention of establishing naval superiority in the Mediterranean, made their way to Toulon, anchoring off the port in July.  Toulon was largely under the control of moderate republicans and royalists, but was threatened by the forces of the National Convention, which were marching on the city. Short of supplies and doubting their ability to defend themselves, the city authorities requested that Hood take it under his protection. Hood readily acquiesced and sent Nelson to carry dispatches to Sardinia and Naples requesting reinforcements. 
After delivering the dispatches to Sardinia, Agamemnon arrived at Naples in early September. There Nelson met King Ferdinand IV of Naples,  followed by the British ambassador to the kingdom, William Hamilton.  At some point during the negotiations for reinforcements, Nelson was introduced to Hamilton's new wife, Emma Hamilton, the former mistress of Hamilton's nephew Charles Greville. 
The negotiations were successful, and 2,000 men and several ships were mustered by mid-September. Nelson put to sea in pursuit of a French frigate, but on failing to catch her, sailed for Leghorn, and then to Corsica.  He arrived at Toulon on 5 October, where he found that a large French army had occupied the hills surrounding the city and was bombarding it. Hood still hoped the city could be held if more reinforcements arrived, and sent Nelson to join a squadron operating off Cagliari. 
Early on the morning of 22 October 1793, Agamemnon sighted five sails. Nelson closed with them, and discovered they were a French squadron. He promptly gave chase, firing on the 40-gun Melpomene.  During the action of 22 October 1793, he inflicted considerable damage but the remaining French ships turned to join the battle and, realising he was outnumbered, Nelson withdrew and continued to Cagliari, arriving on 24 October.  After making repairs, Nelson and Agamemnon sailed again on 26 October, bound for Tunis with a squadron under Commodore Robert Linzee. 
On his arrival, Nelson was given command of a small squadron consisting of Agamemnon, three frigates and a sloop, and ordered to blockade the French garrison on Corsica.  The fall of Toulon at the end of December 1793 severely damaged British fortunes in the Mediterranean. Hood had failed to make adequate provision for a withdrawal and 18 French ships-of-the-line fell into republican hands.  Nelson's mission to Corsica took on added significance, as it could provide the British a naval base close to the French coast.  Hood therefore reinforced Nelson with extra ships during January 1794. 
A British assault force landed on the island on 7 February, after which Nelson moved to intensify the blockade off Bastia. For the rest of the month he carried out raids along the coast and intercepted enemy shipping. By late February St Fiorenzo had fallen and British troops under Lieutenant-General David Dundas entered the outskirts of Bastia.  However, Dundas merely assessed the enemy positions and then withdrew, arguing that the French were too well entrenched to risk an assault. Nelson convinced Hood otherwise, but a protracted debate between the army and naval commanders meant that Nelson did not receive permission to proceed until late March. Nelson began to land guns from his ships and emplace them in the hills surrounding the town. On 11 April the British squadron entered the harbour and opened fire, whilst Nelson took command of the land forces and commenced bombardment.  After 45 days, the town surrendered.  Nelson prepared for an assault on Calvi, working in company with Lieutenant-General Charles Stuart. 
British forces landed at Calvi on 19 June, and immediately began moving guns ashore to occupy the heights surrounding the town. While Nelson directed a continuous bombardment of the enemy positions, Stuart's men began to advance. On 12 July Nelson was at one of the forward batteries early in the morning when a shot struck one of the sandbags protecting the position, spraying stones and sand. Nelson was struck by debris in his right eye and was forced to retire from the position, although his wound was soon bandaged and he returned to action.  By 18 July most of the enemy positions had been disabled, and that night Stuart, supported by Nelson, stormed the main defensive position and captured it. Repositioning their guns, the British brought Calvi under constant bombardment, and the town surrendered on 10 August.  However, Nelson's right eye had not been irreparably damaged and he eventually regained sight in it.
Genoa and the fight of the Ça Ira Edit
After the occupation of Corsica, Hood ordered Nelson to open diplomatic relations with the city-state of Genoa, a strategically important potential ally.  Soon afterwards, Hood returned to England and was succeeded by Admiral William Hotham as commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean. Nelson put into Leghorn, and while Agamemnon underwent repairs, met with other naval officers at the port and entertained a brief affair with a local woman, Adelaide Correglia.  Hotham arrived with the rest of the fleet in December Nelson and Agamemnon sailed on a number of cruises with them in late 1794 and early 1795. 
On 8 March, news reached Hotham that the French fleet was at sea and heading for Corsica. He immediately set out to intercept them, and Nelson eagerly anticipated his first fleet action. The French were reluctant to engage and the two fleets shadowed each other throughout 12 March. The following day two of the French ships collided, allowing Nelson to engage the much larger 84-gun Ça Ira for two and a half hours until the arrival of two French ships forced Nelson to veer away, having inflicted heavy casualties and considerable damage. 
The fleets continued to shadow each other before making contact again, on 14 March, in the Battle of Genoa. Nelson joined the other British ships in attacking the battered Ça Ira, now under tow from Censeur. Heavily damaged, the two French ships were forced to surrender and Nelson took possession of Censeur. Defeated at sea, the French abandoned their plan to invade Corsica and returned to port. 
Skirmishes and the retreat from Italy Edit
Nelson and the fleet remained in the Mediterranean throughout the summer of 1795. On 4 July Agamemnon sailed from St Fiorenzo with a small force of frigates and sloops, bound for Genoa. On 6 July Nelson ran into the French fleet and found himself pursued by several much larger ships-of-the-line. He retreated to St Fiorenzo, arriving just ahead of the pursuing French, who broke off as Nelson's signal guns alerted the British fleet in the harbour.  Hotham pursued the French to the Hyères Islands, but failed to bring them to a decisive action. A number of small engagements were fought but to Nelson's dismay, he saw little action. 
Nelson returned to operate out of Genoa, intercepting and inspecting merchantmen and cutting-out suspicious vessels in both enemy and neutral harbours.  Nelson formulated ambitious plans for amphibious landings and naval assaults to frustrate the progress of the French Army of Italy that was now advancing on Genoa, but could excite little interest in Hotham.  In November Hotham was replaced by Sir Hyde Parker but the situation in Italy was rapidly deteriorating: the French were raiding around Genoa and strong Jacobin sentiment was rife within the city itself. 
A large French assault at the end of November broke the allied lines, forcing a general retreat towards Genoa. Nelson's forces were able to cover the withdrawing army and prevent them from being surrounded, but he had too few ships and men to materially alter the strategic situation, and the British were forced to withdraw from the Italian ports. Nelson returned to Corsica on 30 November, angry and depressed at the British failure and questioning his future in the navy. 
Jervis and the evacuation of the Mediterranean Edit
In January 1796 the position of commander-in-chief of the fleet in the Mediterranean passed to Sir John Jervis, who appointed Nelson to exercise independent command over the ships blockading the French coast as a commodore.  Nelson spent the first half of the year conducting operations to frustrate French advances and bolster Britain's Italian allies. Despite some minor successes in intercepting small French warships (e.g., in the action of 31 May 1796, when Nelson's squadron captured a convoy of seven small vessels), Nelson began to feel the British presence on the Italian peninsula was rapidly becoming useless.  In June the Agamemnon was sent back to Britain for repairs, and Nelson was appointed to the 74-gun HMS Captain. 
In the same month, the French thrust towards Leghorn and were certain to capture the city. Nelson hurried there to oversee the evacuation of British nationals and transported them to Corsica, after which Jervis ordered him to blockade the newly captured French port.  In July he oversaw the occupation of Elba, but by September the Genoese had broken their neutrality to declare in favour of the French.  By October, the Genoese position and the continued French advances led the British to decide that the Mediterranean fleet could no longer be supplied they ordered it to be evacuated to Gibraltar. Nelson helped oversee the withdrawal from Corsica, and by December 1796 was aboard the frigate HMS Minerve, covering the evacuation of the garrison at Elba. He then sailed for Gibraltar. 
During the passage, Nelson captured the Spanish frigate Santa Sabina and placed Lieutenants Jonathan Culverhouse and Thomas Hardy in charge of the captured vessel, taking the Spanish captain on board Minerve. Santa Sabina was part of a larger Spanish force, and the following morning two Spanish ships-of-the-line and a frigate were sighted closing fast. Unable to outrun them, Nelson initially determined to fight but Culverhouse and Hardy raised the British colours and sailed northeast, drawing the Spanish ships after them until being captured, giving Nelson the opportunity to escape.  Nelson went on to rendezvous with the British fleet at Elba, where he spent Christmas.  He sailed for Gibraltar in late January, and after learning that the Spanish fleet had sailed from Cartagena, stopped just long enough to collect Hardy, Culverhouse, and the rest of the prize crew captured with Santa Sabina, before pressing on through the straits to join Sir John Jervis off Cadiz. 
Battle of Cape St Vincent Edit
Nelson joined Jervis's fleet off Cape St Vincent, and reported the Spanish movements.  Jervis decided to give battle and the two fleets met on 14 February 1797. Nelson found himself towards the rear of the British line and realised that it would be a long time before he could bring Captain into action.  Instead of continuing to follow the line, Nelson disobeyed orders and wore ship, breaking from the line and heading to engage the Spanish van, which consisted of the 112-gun San Josef, the 80-gun San Nicolas and the 130-gun Santísima Trinidad. Captain engaged all three, assisted by HMS Culloden which had come to Nelson's aid. 
After an hour of exchanging broadsides which left both Captain and Culloden badly damaged, Nelson found himself alongside San Nicolas. He led a boarding party across, crying "Westminster Abbey or glorious victory!" and forced her to surrender.  San Josef attempted to come to the San Nicolas's aid, but became entangled with her compatriot and was left immobile. Nelson led his party from the deck of San Nicolas onto San Josef and captured her as well.  As night fell, the Spanish fleet broke off and sailed for Cadiz. Four ships had surrendered to the British and two of them were Nelson's. 
Nelson was victorious, but had disobeyed direct orders. Jervis liked Nelson and so did not officially reprimand him,  but did not mention Nelson's actions in his official report of the battle.  He did write a private letter to George Spencer in which he said that Nelson "contributed very much to the fortune of the day".  Nelson also wrote several letters about his victory, reporting that his action was being referred to amongst the fleet as "Nelson's Patent Bridge for boarding first rates". 
Nelson's account was later challenged by Rear Admiral William Parker, who had been aboard HMS Prince George. Parker claimed that Nelson had been supported by several more ships than he acknowledged, and that San Josef had already struck her colours by the time Nelson boarded her.  Nelson's account of his role prevailed, and the victory was well received in Britain: Jervis was made Earl St Vincent and Nelson, on 17 May,  was made a Knight of the Bath.   On 20 February, in a standard promotion according to his seniority and unrelated to the battle, he was promoted to Rear Admiral of the Blue. 
Action off Cadiz Edit
Nelson was given HMS Theseus as his flagship, and on 27 May 1797 was ordered to lie off Cadiz, monitoring the Spanish fleet and awaiting the arrival of Spanish treasure ships from the American colonies.  He carried out a bombardment and personally led an amphibious assault on 3 July. During the action Nelson's barge collided with that of the Spanish commander, and a hand-to-hand struggle ensued between the two crews. Twice Nelson was nearly cut down and both times his life was saved by a seaman named John Sykes who took the blows and was badly wounded. The British raiding force captured the Spanish boat and towed her back to Theseus.   During this period Nelson developed a scheme to capture Santa Cruz de Tenerife, aiming to seize a large quantity of specie from the treasure ship Principe de Asturias, which was reported to have recently arrived. 
Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife Edit
The battle plan called for a combination of naval bombardments and an amphibious landing. The initial attempt was called off after adverse currents hampered the assault and the element of surprise was lost.  Nelson immediately ordered another assault but this was beaten back. He prepared for a third attempt, to take place during the night. Although he personally led one of the battalions, the operation ended in failure: the Spanish were better prepared than had been expected and had secured strong defensive positions. 
Several of the boats failed to land at the correct positions in the confusion, while those that did were swept by gunfire and grapeshot. Nelson's boat reached its intended landing point but as he stepped ashore he was hit in the right arm by a musketball, which fractured his humerus bone in multiple places.  He was rowed back to Theseus to be attended to by the surgeon, Thomas Eshelby.  On arriving at his ship he refused to be helped aboard, declaring "Let me alone! I have got my legs left and one arm." 
He was taken to surgeon Eshelby, instructing him to prepare his instruments and "the sooner it was off the better".  Most of the right arm was amputated and within half an hour Nelson had returned to issuing orders to his captains.  Years later he would excuse himself to Commodore John Thomas Duckworth for not writing longer letters due to not being naturally left-handed.  He developed the sensation of phantom limb in his lost arm later on and declared that he had "found the direct evidence of the existence of soul". 
Meanwhile, a force under Sir Thomas Troubridge had fought their way to the main square but could go no further. Unable to return to the fleet because their boats had been sunk, Troubridge was forced to enter into negotiations with the Spanish commander, and the British were allowed to withdraw.  The expedition had failed to achieve any of its objectives and had left a quarter of the landing force dead or wounded.  
The squadron remained off Tenerife for a further three days and by 16 August had rejoined Jervis's fleet off Cadiz. Despondently Nelson wrote to Jervis: "A left-handed Admiral will never again be considered as useful, therefore the sooner I get to a very humble cottage the better, and make room for a better man to serve the state". 
He returned to England aboard HMS Seahorse, arriving at Spithead on 1 September. He was met with a hero's welcome: the British public had lionised Nelson after Cape St Vincent and his wound earned him sympathy.  They refused to attribute the defeat at Tenerife to him, preferring instead to blame poor planning on the part of St Vincent, the Secretary at War or even William Pitt. 
Return to England Edit
Nelson returned to Bath with Fanny, before moving to London in October to seek expert medical attention concerning his amputated arm. Whilst in London news reached him that Admiral Duncan had defeated the Dutch fleet at the Battle of Camperdown.  Nelson exclaimed that he would have given his other arm to have been present.  He spent the last months of 1797 recuperating in London, during which he was awarded the Freedom of the City of London and a pension of £1,000 a year. He used the money to buy Round Wood Farm near Ipswich, and intended to retire there with Fanny.  Despite his plans, Nelson was never to live there. 
Although surgeons had been unable to remove the central ligature in his amputated arm, which had caused considerable inflammation and poisoning, in early December it came out of its own accord and Nelson rapidly began to recover. Eager to return to sea, he began agitating for a command and was promised the 80-gun HMS Foudroyant. As she was not yet ready for sea, Nelson was instead given command of the 74-gun HMS Vanguard, to which he appointed Edward Berry as his flag captain. 
French activities in the Mediterranean theatre were raising concern among the Admiralty: Napoleon was gathering forces in Southern France but the destination of his army was unknown. Nelson and the Vanguard were to be dispatched to Cadiz to reinforce the fleet. On 28 March 1798, Nelson hoisted his flag and sailed to join Earl St Vincent. St Vincent sent him on to Toulon with a small force to reconnoitre French activities. 
Hunting the French Edit
Nelson passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and took up position off Toulon by 17 May, but his squadron was dispersed and blown southwards by a strong gale that struck the area on 20 May.  While the British were battling the storm, Napoleon had sailed with his invasion fleet under the command of Vice Admiral François-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers. Nelson, having been reinforced with a number of ships from St Vincent, went in pursuit. 
Nelson began searching the Italian coast for Napoleon's fleet, but was hampered by a lack of frigates that could operate as fast scouts. Napoleon had already arrived at Malta and, after a show of force, secured the island's surrender.  Nelson followed him there, but the French had already left. After a conference with his captains, he decided Egypt was Napoleon's most likely destination and headed for Alexandria. On his arrival on 28 June, though, he found no sign of the French dismayed, he withdrew and began searching to the east of the port. While he was absent, Napoleon's fleet arrived on 1 July and landed their forces unopposed. 
Brueys then anchored his fleet in Aboukir Bay, ready to support Napoleon if required.  Nelson meanwhile had crossed the Mediterranean again in a fruitless attempt to locate the French and had returned to Naples to re-provision.  He sailed again, intending to search the seas off Cyprus, but decided to pass Alexandria again for a final check. In doing so his force captured a French merchant ship, which provided the first news of the French fleet: they had passed south-east of Crete a month before, heading to Alexandria.  Nelson hurried to the port but again found it empty of the French. Searching along the coast, he finally discovered the French fleet in Aboukir Bay on 1 August 1798. 
The Battle of the Nile Edit
Nelson immediately prepared for battle, repeating a sentiment he had expressed at the battle of Cape St Vincent that "Before this time tomorrow, I shall have gained a peerage or Westminster Abbey."  It was late by the time the British arrived and the French, anchored in a strong position with a combined firepower greater than that of Nelson's fleet, did not expect them to attack.  Nelson however immediately ordered his ships to advance. The French line was anchored close to a line of shoals, in the belief that this would secure their port side from attack Brueys had assumed the British would follow convention and attack his centre from the starboard side. However, Captain Thomas Foley aboard HMS Goliath discovered a gap between the shoals and the French ships, and took Goliath into the channel. The unprepared French found themselves attacked on both sides, the British fleet splitting, with some following Foley and others passing down the starboard side of the French line. 
The British fleet was soon heavily engaged, passing down the French line and engaging their ships one by one. Nelson on Vanguard personally engaged Spartiate, also coming under fire from Aquilon. At about eight o'clock, he was with Berry on the quarter-deck when a piece of French shot struck him in his forehead. He fell to the deck, a flap of torn skin obscuring his good eye. Blinded and half stunned, he felt sure he would die and cried out "I am killed. Remember me to my wife." He was taken below to be seen by the surgeon.  After examining Nelson, the surgeon pronounced the wound non-threatening and applied a temporary bandage. 
The French van, pounded by British fire from both sides, had begun to surrender, and the victorious British ships continued to move down the line, bringing Brueys's 118-gun flagship Orient under constant heavy fire. Orient caught fire under this bombardment, and later exploded. Nelson briefly came on deck to direct the battle, but returned to the surgeon after watching the destruction of Orient. 
The Battle of the Nile was a major blow to Napoleon's ambitions in the east. The fleet had been destroyed: Orient, another ship and two frigates had been burnt, seven 74-gun ships and two 80-gun ships had been captured, and only two ships-of-the-line and two frigates escaped,  while the forces Napoleon had brought to Egypt were stranded.  Napoleon attacked north along the Mediterranean coast, but Turkish defenders supported by Captain Sir Sidney Smith defeated his army at the Siege of Acre. Napoleon then left his army and sailed back to France, evading detection by British ships. Given its strategic importance, some historians regard Nelson's achievement at the Nile as the most significant of his career, even greater than that at Trafalgar seven years later. 
Nelson wrote dispatches to the Admiralty and oversaw temporary repairs to the Vanguard, before sailing to Naples where he was met with enthusiastic celebrations.  The King of Naples, in company with the Hamiltons, greeted him in person when he arrived at the port and William Hamilton invited Nelson to stay at their house.  Celebrations were held in honour of Nelson's birthday that September, and he attended a banquet at the Hamiltons', where other officers had begun to notice his attention to Emma. Jervis himself had begun to grow concerned about reports of Nelson's behaviour, but in early October word of Nelson's victory had reached London. The First Lord of the Admiralty, Earl Spencer, fainted on hearing the news. 
Scenes of celebration erupted across the country, balls and victory feasts were held and church bells were rung. The City of London awarded Nelson and his captains swords, whilst the King ordered them to be presented with special medals. The Tsar of Russia sent him a gift, and Selim III, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, awarded Nelson the Order of the Turkish Crescent for his role in restoring Ottoman rule in Egypt. Lord Hood, after a conversation with the Prime Minister, told Fanny that Nelson would likely be given a Viscountcy, similar to Jervis's earldom after Cape St Vincent and Duncan's viscountcy after Camperdown.  Earl Spencer however demurred, arguing that as Nelson had only been detached in command of a squadron, rather than being the commander in chief of the fleet, such an award would create an unwelcome precedent. Instead, Nelson received the title Baron Nelson of the Nile.  
Neapolitan campaign Edit
Nelson was dismayed by Spencer's decision, and declared that he would rather have received no title than that of a mere barony.  He was however cheered by the attention showered on him by the citizens of Naples, the prestige accorded him by the kingdom's elite, and the comforts he received at the Hamiltons' residence. He made frequent visits to attend functions in his honour, or to tour nearby attractions with Emma, with whom he had by now fallen deeply in love, almost constantly at his side. 
Orders arrived from the Admiralty to blockade the French forces in Alexandria and Malta, a task Nelson delegated to his captains, Samuel Hood and Alexander Ball. Despite enjoying his lifestyle in Naples, Nelson began to think of returning to England,  but King Ferdinand of Naples, after a long period of pressure from his wife Maria Carolina of Austria and Sir William Hamilton, finally agreed to declare war on France. 
The Neapolitan army, led by the Austrian General Mack and supported by Nelson's fleet, retook Rome from the French in late November. The French regrouped outside Rome and after being reinforced, routed the Neapolitans. In disarray, the Neapolitan army fled back to Naples, with the pursuing French close behind.  Nelson hastily organised the evacuation of the Royal Family, several nobles and the British nationals, including the Hamiltons. The evacuation got under way on 23 December and sailed through heavy gales before reaching the safety of Palermo on 26 December. 
With the departure of the Royal Family, Naples descended into anarchy and news reached Palermo in January that the French had entered the city under General Championnet and proclaimed the Parthenopaean Republic.  Nelson was promoted to Rear Admiral of the Red on 14 February 1799,  and was occupied for several months in blockading Naples, while a popular counter-revolutionary force under Cardinal Ruffo known as the Sanfedisti marched to retake the city. In late June Ruffo's army entered Naples, forcing the French and their supporters to withdraw to the city's fortifications as rioting and looting broke out amongst the ill-disciplined Neapolitan troops. 
Dismayed by the bloodshed, Ruffo agreed to a capitulation with the Jacobin forces that allowed them safe conduct to France. Nelson arrived off Naples on 24 June to find the treaty put into effect. His subsequent role is still controversial.  Nelson, aboard Foudroyant, was outraged, and backed by King Ferdinand he insisted that the rebels must surrender unconditionally.  They refused, Nelson appears to have relented and they marched out to the waiting transports. Nelson then had the transports seized. 
He took those who had surrendered under the treaty under armed guard, as well as the former Admiral Francesco Caracciolo, who had commanded the Neapolitan navy under King Ferdinand but had changed sides during the brief Jacobin rule.  Nelson ordered his trial by court-martial and refused Caracciolo's request that it be held by British officers, nor was Caracciolo allowed to summon witnesses in his defence. Caracciolo was tried by royalist Neapolitan officers and sentenced to death. He asked to be shot rather than hanged, but Nelson, following the wishes of Queen Maria Carolina (a close friend of his mistress, Lady Hamilton) also refused this request and even ignored the court's request to allow 24 hours for Caracciolo to prepare himself. Caracciolo was hanged aboard the Neapolitan frigate Minerva at 5 o'clock the same afternoon. 
Nelson kept the bulk of the Jacobins on the transports and now began to hand hundreds over for trial and execution, refusing to intervene despite pleas for clemency from the Hamiltons and the Queen of Naples.  When transports were finally allowed to carry the Jacobins to France, less than a third were still alive.  On 13 August 1799, a reward for his support of the monarchy,  King Ferdinand gave Nelson the newly created title Duke of Bronté in the Peerage of the Kingdom of Sicily, as perpetual property, together with the estate of the former Benedictine Abbey of Santa Maria di Maniace, situated between the communes of Bronte and Maniace, known later as the "Duchy of Nelson", which he transformed into the Castello di Nelson. 
In 1799, Nelson opposed the mistreatment of slaves held in Portuguese galleys off Palermo and intervened to secure their release. Nelson petitioned the Portuguese commander Marquiz de Niza, 'as a friend, as an English admiral – as a favour to me, as a favour to my country – that you will give me the Slaves'. The marquis acquiesced to the unusual request, allowing twenty-four slaves to be pulled across to Bonne Citoyenne, their blessings to their English saviour then ringing out across the harbour as their names were added to the sloop's already crowded muster book.  
Nelson returned to Palermo in August and in September became the senior officer in the Mediterranean after Jervis' successor Lord Keith left to chase the French and Spanish fleets into the Atlantic.  Nelson spent the rest of 1799 at the Neapolitan court but put to sea again in February 1800 after Lord Keith's return. On 18 February Généreux, a survivor of the Nile, was sighted and Nelson gave chase, capturing her after a short battle and winning Keith's approval.  Nelson had a difficult relationship with his superior officer: he was gaining a reputation for insubordination, having initially refused to send ships when Keith requested them and on occasion returning to Palermo without orders, pleading poor health.  Keith's reports, and rumours of Nelson's close relationship with Emma Hamilton, were also circulating in London, and Earl Spencer wrote a pointed letter suggesting that he return home:
You will be more likely to recover your health and strength in England than in any inactive situation at a foreign Court, however pleasing the respect and gratitude shown to you for your services may be. 
…and one of the direct hits scored by the Turkish artillerymen. This fifth hit from a Fort Ertuğrul's 240/35 gun, although didn’t look serious, could sink the ship as the shell stopped only 12 inches from the ammunition compartment.
(Photo: A. Hall - Piotr Nykiel's collection)
Agamemnon in the Dardanelles. A picture taken during the Dardanelles Campaign. Note the unfinished camouflage on her starboard and the rear mast being shot off.
Agamemnon in the Dardanelles. A picture taken during the Dardanelles Campaign. Note the unfinished camouflage on her starboard and the rear mast being shot off.
Agamemnon’s starboard 234 mm (9.2 in) turret while shelling the forts in the Dardanelles.
HMS Agamemnon in La Valetta, Malta in 1915, prior to her departure for the Dardanelles.
Agamemnon’s 305 mm (12 in.) guns from the fore turret being replaced on Malta in May-June 1915.
(P. A. Vicary, Cromer - Piotr Nykiel's collection)
Stretcher from HMS Agamemnon exposed in Naval Museum in Beşiktaş, Istanbul.
HMS Nelson (28)
HMS Nelson (pennant number: 28) was the name ship of her class of two battleships built for the Royal Navy in the 1920s. They were the first battleships built to meet the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. Entering service in 1927, the ship spent her peacetime career with the Atlantic and Home Fleets, usually as the fleet flagship. During the early stages of World War II, she searched for German commerce raiders, missed participating in the Norwegian Campaign after she was badly damaged by a mine in late 1939, and escorted convoys in the Atlantic Ocean.
In mid-1941 Nelson escorted several convoys to Malta before being torpedoed in September. After repairs she resumed doing so before supporting the British invasion of French Algeria during Operation Torch in late 1942. The ship covered the invasions of Sicily (Operation Husky) and Italy (Operation Avalanche) in mid-1943 while bombarding coastal defences during Operation Baytown. During the Normandy landings in June 1944, Nelson provided naval gunfire support before she struck a mine and spent the rest of the year under repair. The ship was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in mid-1945 and returned home a few months after the Japanese surrender in September to serve as the flagship of the Home Fleet. She became a training ship in early 1946 and was reduced to reserve in late 1947. Nelson was scrapped two years later after being used as a target for bomb tests.
9.2in guns of HMS Lord Nelson - History
The Wine-Dark Sea:
By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
Britain&rsquos last pre-dreadnought battleships showed that naval architecture had reached the limitations of the type. Lord Nelson and Agamemnon, originally authorized as a class of five ships, would be overtaken by the new Dreadnought design before they had even been launched. Their origins were just as painfully extended.
The previous King Edward VII class, built under the 1902 Naval Estimates, had presented a major step forward in size and fighting power. The five ships authorized went from the 14,000 ton&rsquos displacement of the Duncan class to 16,000 tons, and upgrading their secondary armament from a dozen 6-inch guns to ten 6-inch and four 9.2-inch guns. The 9.2-inch guns each had its own turret, while the 6-inch guns went into a central battery. Like Duncan, King Edward VII had a main armament of four 12-inch guns, in twin turrets fore and aft.
For the 1903 program, new Director of Naval Construction Philip Watts presented a much more powerful ship. Watts had claimed that he could have crammed all the fighting power of King Edward VII into the same displacement as Duncan, a boast that seems to have annoyed the Board of Admiralty that approved new warship designs.
Agamemnon, seen sometime in 1910 or 1911.
Watts offered that design to the Board, along with a number of others. The largest jumped to 19,000 tons with an armament of four 12-inch, twelve 9.2-inch and twelve 6-inch guns and a speed of 19 knots. The others varied in the number of 9.2-inch and 6-inch guns, though all retained the traditional heavy armament of four 12-inch guns. Watts also drafted the first all-big-gun battleship considered by the Admiralty, armed with a dozen 10-inch guns.
The Board expressed its skepticism at Watts&rsquo claims of weight-saving. Watts had come to the Admiralty from Elswick, the private shipyard, where he had formed a friendship with the new First Sea Lord, Sir John Fisher, who had wrangled the appointment. Watts argued that he had simply followed the usual practice of commercial yards when presenting designs to potential foreign customers: to maximize the armament of proposed ships while minimizing the &ldquoinvisible&rdquo qualities.
What that meant in practice was the Watts had cut corners. His designs trimmed things like anchors, cables, food, water, fuel and ammunition. Gun turrets had smaller arcs of fire than previous designs engines were expected to be run hot for extended periods. Ships&rsquo boats were reduced in size, internal structural supports were reduced, and guns were listed at the weight declared by the manufacturer (before they had been mounted) rather than the shipyards.
In late July 1903 the Admiralty Board gave its chosen Watts design its formal seal of approval. Watts drafted a design on the same 16,000 tons as King Edward VII, that did away with all of the 6-inch guns, instead presenting a uniform secondary armament of a dozen 9.2-inch guns. Speed remained the same relatively slow 18.5 knots.
Almost immediately after approving the design, the Admiralty Board withdrew its seal. The Third Sea Lord, Rear Admiral May &ndash charged with oversight of weaponry &ndash ruled the ship too large. Without an approved design for the 1903 program, three slightly modified repeats of the King Edward VII design would be laid down instead of the three ships of the new design.
Meanwhile, Watts spread bitter rumors about the Sea Lords not wishing to spark a naval arms race by building too powerful of a ship, while working on a new draft that would meet May&rsquos objections. The original design had carried three twin turrets for 9.2-inch guns on either beam. The revised design replaced the middle twin turret with a single mount. That shaved enough weight to gain approval of the ship for the next building program. Watts also presented several alternatives &ndash one with sixteen 10-inch guns, another armed solely with 12-inch guns &ndash that would become the basis for discussions about the new-model ship that became HMS Dreadnought. None of these were chosen.
Three ships were authorized to the Watts design, and three more for the following year. One of the initial three ships was cancelled and the money diverted to buy the Chilean ships that became the pre-dreadnoughts Triumph and Swiftsure, to keep them off the open market. The second set of three would be built to a radically different design.
Both ships were laid down at private yards in May 1905, Lord Nelson at Palmers in Jarrow and Agamemnon at Beardmore on the Clydeside. They were short ships, a result of keeping the armored citadel small to save weight by moving the main armament turrets as close to the superstructure as possible, even at the cost of a reduced field of fire. They were not very fast, and retained the old-fashioned triple-expansion engines that had powered the last generation of British battleships. But they did introduce a number of innovative features, including oil spray for their boilers to make their coal burn hotter. They had no watertight doors belowdecks instead, crewmen had to take a lift up and out of the compartment, and then another lift down to their destination. That feature would not be repeated.
Watt&rsquos corner-cutting meant that the ships were greatly overloaded once they took on full loads of coal, oil, feed water, food, ammunition and other supplies, as well as anchors and other gear. That pushed their armored belts below the waterline, and they would consequently have been very vulnerable in combat. They also had inadequate deck protection like all battleships of the time.
They took about six months to a year longer to complete than the King Edward VII class, as their main armament was diverted to speed completion of Dreadnought. By the time they entered service they were already obsolete, but selling them to a foreign power or scrapping them on the slipways and starting over was not possible in the political reality of the time. British battleships were the best in the world, and no admission could be made that this might not have always been true.
This Agamemnon gun crew shot down a zeppelin with their 12-pounder.
Agamemnon finally commissioned in June 1908, and Lord Nelson in December. Both went to the Home Fleet and remained there until the outbreak of war, when they were assigned to the Channel Fleet even as other pre-dreadnoughts (all eight of the King Edward VII class, and at times some Duncan-class ships) saw service with the Grand Fleet. In early 1915 they went to the Mediterranean with other surplus pre-dreadnoughts to bombard Turkish fortifications outside the Dardanelles strait, and they remained there for the remainder of the war. Both of them missed their lone opportunity for a surface action, the January 1918 sortie by the battle cruiser Goeben and light cruiser Breslau to attack the British monitors based at Imbros.
At no point in their service life were the ships considered worthy of modernization, and given the dense design produced by Watts they had no room to spare. Lord Nelson went to the breakers even before the Washington naval conference opened, while Agamemnon finally gave a few years&rsquo useful service as a radio-controlled target ship before her own scrapping.
Even as workers laid the keels of the two semi-dreadnoughts May 1905, other workers at the Portsmouth Naval Dockyard began assembling steel for Dreadnought ahead of her formal keel-laying in October. The Admiralty probably would have been better off cancelling the two contracts and replacing them with the new design, but that might have revealed that a secret new battleship design was in the offing. The £3.2 million wasted on them would have paid 93 percent of the cost of two additional Dreadnought-class ships it turned out to be an expensive secret. It could have been worse the Royal Navy could easily have ended up with nine of them instead of just two.
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Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold. Leopold is a black 28-pound Lurcher with a ringneck, socks and white tip.
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