Magazine article History Today

The End of the Implacable

Magazine article History Today

The End of the Implacable

Article excerpt

December 2nd, 1949

IT WAS A SUNNY FRIDAY afternoon with a moderate sea running when the `wooden wall' warship Implacable, her aged timbers deteriorated beyond hope of repair, was scuttled with the honours of war 36 fathoms deep in the English Channel. She had 500 tons of pig-iron in her hold as ballast to take her down, and both the white ensign and the French tricolour flew from her stern. At 1.45pm the scuttling charges were fired, the attendant ships lowered their colours, a Royal Navy guard of honour presented arms and the `Last Post' sounded, but the obstinate old warhorse refused to sink and it was almost three hours before she went to her long home. Bits of her washed up later around Dunkirk.

Implacable was the only survivor of the battle of Trafalgar, apart from Nelson's flagship HMS Victory herself. The two ships had been on opposite sides, for Implacable was originally the French 74-gun battleship Duguay-Trouin. Under Captain Claude Touffet, she formed part of Rear Admiral Dumanoir le Pelley's division in the van of the combined French and Spanish fleet off Cape Trafalgar on the fateful morning of October 21st, 1805. …

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