The Royal Navy to which Admiral Lord Nelson sacrificed his life depended on thousands of sailors and marines to man the great wind-powered wooden warships. Drawn from all over Britain and beyond, often unwillingly, these ordinary men made the navy invincible through skill, courage and sheer determination. They cast a long shadow, with millions of their descendants alive today, and many of their everyday expressions, such as ‘skyscraper’ and ‘loose cannon’, continuing to enrich our language. Yet their contribution is frequently overlooked, while the officers became celebrities.
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