From sea to tree

For 200 years ramblers could not see the hearts of oak for the trees, but now -thanks to Google Earth – the memorial tree planting to mark Lord Nelson’s Battle of the Nile has been identified.

The National Trust are now promoting the memorial as a tourist attraction for visitors to Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

It was planted by Baron Douglas of Amesbury some years after Nelson’s death in 1805 at the request of Captain Thomas Hardy and Nelson’s mistress Lady Hamilton. There were 31 clumps of trees planted marking the position of the 17 French and 14 British ships.

The Battle of the Nile at Aboukir Bay took place on August 1-2, 1798. The British fleet under Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson surprised and largely destroyed a French fleet under François-Paul Brueys D’Aigalliers anchored near Alexandria, stranding Napoleon’s army in Egypt. French losses have been estimated as high as 1,700 dead (including Vice-Admiral Brueys) and 3,000 captured. British losses were 218 dead.