On October 21, 1805, just off Cape Trafalgar in South Western Spain, the British fleet under Admiral Lord Horatio NELSON defeated the combined fleets of France and Spain, sinking 22 ships for the loss of none.
Serving on board HMS Royal Sovereign was John Gronow a Marine Private (Ship's pay book number: (ML 36)1 March 1805 Catalogue reference: ADM 36/15755)
There were 136 Royal Marines on board the Royal Sovereign during the Battle of Trafalgar. Their job during a sea battle was to stand in the rigging firing on the enemy with their muskets or lobbing grenades whenever an enemy ship was in range and to be ready to repel enemy boarders if required. They might also be expected to help with the guns and guard strategically important positions around the ship, such as the weapon store.
In his General Order, written the day after the battle when he had assumed command of the fleet following Nelson's death, Admiral Collingwood wrote: "Where can I find language to express my sentiments of the valour and skill which were displayed by the Officers, the Seamen and Marines in the battle with the enemy, where every individual appeared a hero on whom the glory of his country depended?"