This cemetery was consecrated
in June 1798, seven years before the battle of Trafalgar. It was then known
as the Southport Ditch Cemetery, and was sometimes regarded as a part of
the old St. Jago's Cemetery, which was situated on the other side of Charles
V Wall. The association with the battle of Trafalgar does not seem to have
been made until many years after the event.
Southport Ditch, outside
Southport Gate, formed part of the town defences at least as far back as
Spanish times: it appears in the 1627 map of Gibraltar by Luis Bravo in
the British Museum, as a "Fosso" just South of "Puerta de
Africa" (Southport Gate). The western half of the ditch, which had
been used as a market garden in the nineteenth century, was filled in when
Referendum Arch was opened in 1967.
The cemetery was used for
burials between 1798 and 1814, and thereafter fell into disuse, although
there is one isolated tomb from 1838 near the far north-east corner (No.60
in the plan on the south wall). Earlier gravestones from St. Jago's cemetery
were set into the eastern wall in 1932, and there are also a few free-standing
stones, some of which date back to the 1780's, which have been transferred
over the years from the Alameda Gardens.
Although the name of the
cemetery commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, only two of those who are
buried here actually died of wounds suffered during the battle (Lieut. William
Forster of the Royal Marine corps of H.M.S. Mars and Lieut. Thomas
Norman of H.M.S Colossus - grave numbers 121 and 101). Most of those
who died at Trafalgar were buried at sea, and Lord Nelson's body was transported
to London for a state funeral. Wounded seamen were brought to Gibraltar,
and those who died later of their wounds were buried just to the north of
Charles V Wall, on the opposite side of Trafalgar Cemetery; a small plaque
was recently placed there to commemorate the site.
Many of the tombstones
in the cemetery commemorate the dead of three terrible yellow fever epidemics
in 1804, 1813 and 1814. Also buried here are victims of other sea battles
of the Napoleonic Wars - the battle of Algeciras (1801) and actions off
Cadiz (1810) and Malaga (1812).
One tomb with an indirect
connection with Trafalgar is number 103, that of John Brugier, purser of
H.M.S. San Juan Nepomuceno. The San Juan Nepomuceno was one
of the prizes captured at Trafalgar. After the battle, she was towed into
Gibraltar where she served as a supply hulk for a decade after her capture
at Trafalgar. This attractive stone has a touching inscription from Brugier's
brother officers, who knew their Hamlet:
"Give me that man that is not Passion's slave
and I will wear him in my heart's core, ay in my heart
of hearts as I do thee. "
Some other interesting inscriptions
Number 98 - Edward Caulfield, who died of wounds in 1808:
"Honoured where known Endearing where allied
much lov'd he liv'd and Much lamented died."
Numbers 85 and 86 - Thomas
Worth and John Buckland of the Royal Marine Artillery:
"The brightest ornaments of their Corps", who
were "Killed by the same shot on the 23rd November,
1810 while directing the Howitzer Boats in an attack on the
enemy's Flotilla in Cadiz Bay."
Number 32 - a naively illustrated
stone on the south wall by the entrance.
Number 91 - Robert Monson "A young man of amiable manners and sincerity."
Grave numbers 46 and 47
are those of Helen Charlotte Smith and Lieut. Holloway, children of Sir
Charles Holloway, the Garrison Engineer, and grandchildren of Sir William
Green, who as Chief Engineer of the Garrison in 1770 founded the Company
of Military Artificers which later became known as the Royal Engineers.
For some years a ceremony
has been held every year in the cemetery on Trafalgar Day in remembrance
of those who gave their lives in the great victory.
Responsibility for the
upkeep of the cemetery was entrusted by the Government of Gibraltar to the
Gibraltar Heritage Trust in 1990. Trafalgar House plc and its subsidiary,
the Cunard Steam Ship Co. supported the Trusts efforts between 1990 and
1992 with a generous grant.
In 1992 a monument, consisting
of an anchor donated by the Royal Navy and an inscription quoting Admiral
Collingwood's despatch in which he reported the victory at Trafalgar and
the death of Nelson, was unveiled by the Governor, Admiral Sir Derek Reffell.
H.M.S. Victory being towed into Gibraltar.
From a painting by C.Stansfield
The first news of the Battle of Trafalgar: The despatch
from Vice-Admiral Collingwood to Lt. Gen. Fox, the Deputy Governor of Gibraltar,
and printed in the Gibraltar Chronicle.
GIBRALTAR CHRONICLE EXTRAORDINARY
Thursday, October 24, 1805 - Price Twelve Quarts.
EURYALUS, AT SEA, OCTOBER 22, 1805.
Yesterday a Battle was fought by His Majesty's Fleet, with
the Combined Fleets of Spain and France, and a Victory gained, which will
stand recorded as one of the most brilliant and decisive, that ever distinguished
the BRITISH NAVY.
The enemy's Fleet sailed from Cadiz, on the 19th, in the
morning, Thirty Three sail of the Line in number, for the purpose of giving
Battle to the British Squadron of Twenty Seven, and yesterday at Eleven
A.M. the contest began, close in with the Shoals of of Trafalgar.
At Five P.M. Seventeen of the Enemy had surrendered, and
one (L'Achille) burnt, amongst which is the Sta Ana, the Spanish Admiral
Don D'Aleva mortally wounded and the Santisima Trinidad. The French Admiral
Villeneneuve is now a Prisoner on board the Mars; I believe Three Admirals
Our loss has been great in Men; but what is irreparable,
and the cause of Universal Lamentation is the Death of the Noble Commander
in Chief, who died in the Arms of Victory; I have not yet any reports from
the Ships, but have heard that Captains Duff and Cook fell in the Action.
I have to congratulate you upon the Great Event, and have
the Honour to be,
His Excellency, the Right Hon.
The Hon. Gen. H. E. Fox