Marine signalling and the Battle of Trafalgar - suggestion for a talk to a secondary school assembly

Explain to pupils that it is Trafalgar Day, the 200 anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Tell the pupils about Nelson's message to his fleet - England expects that every man will do his duty.

There were 33 ships in the fleet. Distance, the wind and the sounds of the sea, together with the creaking of the ships' masts, would mean that he could not possibly shout to them!

So how was the message sent?

He did not have a mobile phone! Tell the pupils that he used a system of signalling with flags.

This had been developed only four years earlier by Home Riggs Popham, a sea captain in the British Navy.

Invite the pupils to consider other methods of sending information at sea - the dots and dashes of the morse code, sent by long and short bursts of light, for example.

Invite pupils to feel gratitude for the development of communications and for the speed in which we can now learn about, and respond to situations all over the world.

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