Wednesday 27th February
Admiral Lord Cochrane
HMS Speedy defeating the Frigate El Gamo
Thomas Cochrane should be celebrated alongside Horatio Nelson as one of Britain’s greatest naval heroes. Even Napoleon held him in such high regard that he nicknamed him the Sea Wolf and attributed to him the loss of Martinique and Guadeloupe after he destroyed the French Fleet at the Battle of Aix Roads at the mouth of the Charente River.
Both CS Forrester (Hornblower) and Patrick O’Brien (Jack Aubrey of Master and Commander fame) based their fictional heroes on Thomas Cochrane. He was the master of the ‘Ruse de Guerre’. But while he was unbeatable as a naval commander he made many enemies amongst the establishment when he tried to sort out prize money and the conditions of sailors. He was charged and found guilty in a court of law in a deliberate falsification of charges and was the last man in Britain to be put in the stocks. Later in his life he became an ideological mercenary and is attributed with establishing the Brazilian, Chilean and Peruvian Navies in their fight for independence from the Spanish and Portuguese. He also fought for the Greeks in their attempt to become independent of the Ottoman Empire.