Page 10 - Cormorant 2019
P. 10

traditional Naval dinner where, as attendees will know, the evening is punctuated by officers reading first-hand accounts of the battle.
“We assembled on the foredeck. A note sounded and we all look to the horizon to see what was occurred. A call to arms! A message for the thirsty crowd! It was gladly received by the assembled officers: ‘MacCrimmon expects every man to do his duty’. I signed up that very same day, enthusiastic to be part of such a noble endeavour.”
After meeting in the forum for pre-dinner drinks we were graced by an exceptional performance by the Band of the Royal Marines. The audience moved up to the balconies of the forum, which had been decorated with signal flags spelling out Nelson’s famous ‘England expects’ message. Around the room were prints and accounts of the battle, and there were a considerable number of White Ensigns on display.
“The fleet assembled that evening, milling around
in anticipation. What a sight! The flags a-flutter,
the uniforms, the combined might of the nations assembled! I took a draught of rough gin to strengthen my resolve... The band struck up, fortifying us for the engagement ahead. Some felt the music went on too long – us Lads of the Sea were keen to fortify ourselves with a ration of rum, not of music!”
Most of those attending hadn’t been to a Trafalgar Night dinner before. We were treated to the full breadth of Royal Naval traditions. Grace was read; the battle was narrated between courses; the beef was paraded; port was served and Nelson’s immortal memory was toasted (in silence); the toast of the day was given: ‘a bloody war and a sickly season’; sea shanties were sung; and the guest of honour talked briefly on naval history.
However, the highlight was the arrival of the chocolate ships, with fireworks firing from their forepeaks as they were carried out on silver platters, before being broken up and devoured at the table.
“On our port side a flotilla of burning ships appeared, as if on parade. In the distance I saw Lt Cdr Bray leap in to action, engaging the first ship with a devastating broadside. He left it demolished – little remained on the surface after his attack!”
After the sea shanties had finished – expertly sung by The Longest Johns, professional shanty-singers – we left for the bar to continue the motion into the night. Although there wasn’t long before last orders, those who stayed made the most of the time. Many carried on longer.
“As the blast of sea shanties reached a crescendo, the crew surged forward! The game was afoot, scant time remained ‘til the bell would be rung! Forward, ye Cormorants, to victory!”
Given that there was such a short time between the start of the course and the dinner, it was a
busy period for the committee. They should be congratulated on such a great night. It gave students the opportunity to share a traditional and entertaining evening, enjoy some great food and drink, and relax together.
So, from an impressed pongo, a hearty BZ to the Royal Navy! The Senior Service laid down a challenge to the other services. The next to take up the dinner night gauntlet were their flying brothers of the Fleet Air Arm, organising Taranto night a month later.
“The aftermath of the battle was terrible to behold. Around us lay the casualties of the previous day, moaning and groaning at the pain inflicted upon them. A foul malaise lay upon the crew in their fragile state. Thankfully, we hoisted sails and escaped the battle, departing for our homes that same day.”
   They should be
congratulated on such a great
night. ◆◆◆

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