Taken from historyhouse: At Trafalgar (1805), more than 18,000 sailors and marines fought on the British side. At The National Archives, data from ships' musters, survey returns, pensioners' records and certificates of service (not always accurate), gives an indication of multi-national crews. Apart from English, Welsh and Scottish, the Irish were by far the largest contingent with (all figures approximate) 3573 men. There were 361 Americans. Swedes (78), Norwegians (25), Prussians (23), Russians (9), Maltese (25), and Italians (115). Curiously, 20 French, and 8 Spanish. And 5 Austrians. From Canada, particularity Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, 31. 17 listed as born in Africa. 123 from the West Indies, probably former slaves, now free men and sailors. In Denis Dighton's painting 'The Fall of Nelson' (1825), a black sailor is among those gathered round Horatio. +++ Serving in the navy was brutal – Churchill is supposed to have called it a life of 'rum, sodomy and the lash', whereas earlier common sailings were 'wine, women and song' when ashore, and 'rum, bum and bacca' at sea. I prefer the equally old 'rum, bum and concertina', but then I gave up smoking! In popular culture the 'Press Gang' (The Impress Service) was notorious – the law still stands, btw, so be careful at UK seaside resorts! Actually, they preferred sailors to pressing civilians, as the former don't need training. Naval ships could stop and take crews off merchant vessels to make up their shortages, which is tragic if after months, even years at sea, you're homeward bound, in sight of the White Cliffs, and you get taken off your ship by a naval vessel going out to service in the South Atlantic or the disease-infested West Indies. Basically, any man who could sail was worth his ration, so the Navy picked up sailors all round the world – the Archive does not include the Far East, but I know from other records China, India and 'the Malays' were also represented. Possible nonsense: I've heard that a sailor's gold earring was enough to ensure him a decent burial if he made it home (at sea was a bit more ad-hoc). I've also heard that a tattoo triggers the body's defence mechanisms, which co-incidentally made him less prone to infection when visiting foreign climes.