Trafalgar links Navy generations

Published on LEUT Kirsti Burtenshaw (author), Mr John Carroll (photographer)

Location(s): Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra

A guard of Midshipmen from the Australian Defence Force Academy march during a Navy Ceremonial Sunset and Beat to Quarters ceremony the annual Trafalgar Mess Dinner. (photo: John Carroll)
A guard of Midshipmen from the Australian Defence Force Academy march during a Navy Ceremonial Sunset and Beat to Quarters ceremony the annual Trafalgar Mess Dinner.

Over 250 Midshipmen from the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) experienced one of the highlights of the ADFA Calendar on 17 October, the Trafalgar Mess Dinner.
 
For over 20 years the annual dinner has provided an invaluable opportunity for those new to the Navy to immerse themselves themselves tradition and history and interact with sailors and officers from the Fleet. This year was no exception, with an unprecedented four Vice Admirals in attendance.
 
The Battle of Trafalgar is perhaps the most significant naval battle in modern history, establishing Britain's naval dominance for almost 100 years. Fought between the Royal Navy and the combined French and Spanish fleets on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Spain at Cape Trafalgar. Vice Admiral Nelson of the Royal Navy had a smaller fleet and was outgunned by the larger French and Spanish Fleet led by Admiral Villeneuve. Despite this, Vice Admiral Nelson overcame the odds and through clever tactics won the battle and ensured his name in history, by also not losing a single ship whereas his opponents lost 22.

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN (left), salutes as the Australian White Ensign is lowered during the annual Trafalgar Mess Dinner held at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra.

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN (left), salutes as the Australian White Ensign is lowered during the annual Trafalgar Mess Dinner held at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra.


Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett was the guest speaker on the night and spoke of the importance of remembering the sacrifices of those who served before.
 
"We meet to celebrate Nelson and Trafalgar, to remember the enduring features they represent for our profession and their relevance for today's Royal Australian Navy," Vice Admiral Barrett said.
 
The evening started with a Ceremonial Sunset and Beat to Quarters, and was followed by a formal mess dinner, with entertainment provided by the ADFA Band playing Melita, Rule Britannia and other nautical themed tunes throughout the night

Midshipmen from the Australian Defence Force Academy fold the Australian White Ensign after it is lowered at the completion of the Navy Ceremonial Sunset and Beat to Quarters ceremony held as a part of the annual Trafalgar Mess Dinner.

Midshipmen from the Australian Defence Force Academy fold the Australian White Ensign after it is lowered at the completion of the Navy Ceremonial Sunset and Beat to Quarters ceremony held as a part of the annual Trafalgar Mess Dinner.


In line with its namesake the evening was steeped in tradition and Midshipman Zeb Learoyd said the ambiance and the company made the night one he would not soon forget.
 
"It was such an incredible evening and all of the Midshipmen learnt so much from the experience." Midshipman Learoyd said.