Captain Sir Thomas Andrews, K.B. assumed command of HBMS “Agamemnon” on 18th June 1805. In 1793, the sixty-four gun “Agamemnon” had been the first command of Horatio Nelson.
At dusk on 20th October 1805, an extraordinary event took place aboard His Britannic Majesty’s Ship “Agamemnon”. The full circumstances were later reported by Despatch to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. At the inquiry which followed, it was stated “Agamemnon” “had maintained exact station in the fleet” the night before Trafalgar and that her Captain was “deemed of sound mind”.
Horatio, Lord Nelson, Commander-in-Chief of the British Fleet, was killed in action at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805. Captain Sir Thomas Andrews was killed in action aboard “Agamemnon” on the 24th October 1805. Lieutenant Abel Kerry died in mysterious circumstances in Gibraltar in February 1806.
To this day, the National Maritime Archive at Greenwich neither confirms nor denies the existence of Captain Andrews’ final communiqué – the “Agamemnon Despatch”…
The mist came upon us (the Captain reported),
From seemingly nowhere, like out of the sea.
The helm was unsteady, though hard she was blowing.
The watch sent below and reported to me, oh yes.
The cook sent the lad from the galley informing
The fires had died and the ovens were cold.
The lookout atop of the mainmast was silent,
Reporting of nothing for him to behold, oh yes.
’Twas here Mr Kerry, the Mate, then reported
“Sir, half-a-cable directly ahead!
’Tis surely a frigate that slowly approaches.
A strange sight indeed, Sir,” the Lieutenant said, oh yes.
And yes, she was strange as she came down upon us,
The Fires of St. Elmo so freely bestowed
Did sweep through her sails and dance in her rigging.
It seemed that her powder must surely explode, oh yes.
“Hard over port on the helm!” I commanded.
“Hard over port, Sir!” the helmsman replied.
And as he reported “The wheel will not answer!”
Then onto my quarter the frigate did glide, oh yes.
Her Captain stood, his eyes on fire,
And turning, he spoke as she passed by my rail.
“Remember this sight that you see, Thomas Andrews.
Remember this sight, or your mission will fail!” oh yes.
And there as she passed, the fog began sinking
And with sails burned to ash and with nothing to save,
Her name being obscured by the heat of the flames,
Like a wisp in the mist she then sank to her grave, oh yes.
This then is account for your Lordship’s attention
Of that which occurred and of which I did see,
As I must report with a truth I’m believing
My Lords, it was Nelson who spoke unto me, oh yes.
Your Obedient Servant,
Thomas Andrews, oh yes.
from Recorded At Rocker's: Beau
released November 3, 2014
© C J T Midgley
Published by Cherry Red Songs
Original release on “Fables & Façades” (Cherry Red Records)
all rights reserved