A new memorial area to Admiral Horatio Nelson and all of the sailors and Royal Marines that lost their lives onboard HMS Victory between 1778 and 1812 has been dedicated on the orlop deck of the ship.
A short and moving dedication ceremony was conducted on the 21st June in the presence of the Second Sea Lord, Commandant General Royal Marines, Lord and Lady Mayoress of Portsmouth and other guests, including Nelson's great, great, great, great grandson, John tribe.
After a briefing by the ship's Commanding Officer,the Senior Catholic Chaplain to the Fleet (representing the Chaplain of the Fleet) conducted the service and dedications of the new Nelson Stone and the Roll of Honour. A minutes silence was held following a haunting and poignant sounding of the last post by a Royal Marine bugler.
The new Victory Memorial has been installed following research that indicated that the spot where Nelson died was more likely to be some twenty feet further forward that the place where it has been marked for well over 100 years. Whilst sympathetic to this new research but in deference to the fact that no-one can be sure of the exact location, the new memorial marks that Nelson died somewhere on the deck rather than in a specific spot. The Nelson stone has been carved out of limestone quarried about 20 miles inland from Cape Trafalgar in Spain by the renowned sculptor Philip Chatfield from Southsea.
Where the previous memorial remembered just Nelson, the new area remembers all that fell in the service of their country whilst the ship was operational and a new Roll of Honour board has been made dedicated to those men.
The ship's Commanding Officer said: "The dedication of the new memorial is the culmination of over a year's work and is a fitting and lasting tribute to Nelson and those that fell both in battle and through accidents and disease over the ship's 34 year operational life.
We can never be sure where the actual spot was where Nelson passed away so the decision was taken to lay the memorial area out as close to probability as possible, whilst not actually defining an exact location. It was never the case of the navy getting it wrong, but more the fact that there was no conclusive evidence that the original spot was correct and the new stone alludes to this fact and to the fact that whilst the likely spot was forward by some 20 feet, we cannot be 100% sure.