Review of ‘Nelson's Flagship at Copenhagen H.M.S. ELEPHANT’, by Eric Tushingham and Clifford Mansfield

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 3rd September 2001, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

A HERO OF NELSON'S NAVY

Two residents of Bakewell have been brought together by a rather moving coincidence. Their link is Lord Horatio Nelson, subject of a new publication by the Nelson Society, Nelson's Flagship at Copenhagen H.M.S. ELEPHANT, The Men the Ship the Battle.

Co-authors of the book are Eric Tushingham of Goostrey and Clifford Mansfield of Bakewell who is Archivist/Librarian of the Nelson Society, a registered charity. The design of the book cover lay with Mr Mansfield and he included a photograph of a naval medal which he had purchased two years earlier. This had been awarded to Captain Alfred Luckcraft who was with Lord Nelson at the famous naval battles of Copenhagan and Trafalgar.

Alfred Luckcraft was only nine years old when he served at Copenhagen as a midshipman on the Monarch, a ship which suffered the greatest number of casualties on any ship throughout the Napoleonic wars. He received a leg wound at Trafalgar, when he was still only fourteen, and took part in other engagements as he rose to the rank of Captain.

The fact that a living descendant, Mr A W Luckcraft, resides in Bakewell was unknown to Mr Mansfield as he worked on the book but our photograph shows their meeting - the author with a copy of his book and Mr Luckcraft holding the medal.

Nelson's Flagship at Copenhagen is a tribute to the courage and sacrifice of navies of all nationalities in conflict at sea. Gripping eye-witness accounts and direct quotes are quite humbling and the legendary aspects of Nelson's character shine through. On 1 March 1801, a month before Copenhagen, he wrote to his old commander: 'Our friend here is a little nervous about dark nights and fields of ice, but we must brace up; these are not times for nervous systems.'

And so it transpires, as the book follows the cruel course of the battle. Anecdotes naturally include the birth of an expression still in everyday use, when Nelson famously rebutted the signal to break off action by putting the glass to his blind eye.

The Peak has its own tribute to Admiral Lord Nelson; on Birchen Edge near Baslow is a gritstone obelisk erected only five years after his victory, and death, at Trafalgar. It predates Nelson's Column in London by nearly sixty years. Reading the book will also remind people like me why the proud name Horatio appears on the 19th-century branch of their family tree. Nelson's Flagship at Copenhagen H.M.S. ELEPHANT, The Men the Ship the Battle ISBN 0-9537200-2-0 is available price £11.95.

Review by Julie Bunting


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