Cosme Damián de Churruca y Elorza

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Cosme Damián de Churruca y Elorza

Cosme Damián de Churruca y Elorza (born in Mutriku, 27 September 1761; died at the Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805) was a Spanish noble, an Admiral of the Royal Spanish Armada, a scientist and Major of Mutriku, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar while commanding the ship of the line San Juan Nepomuceno.

He received his early years education in the Seminary of Burgos. Then, he entered the School of Bergara.

Once he finished his studies, he joined the Naval Academy of Cadiz in 1776, and got his degree in the Naval Academy of Ferrol in 1778, becoming a naval officer.

In 1781, Cosme Damián de Churruca, as an officer of the Spanish Navy, performed heroically in a siege of Gibraltar.

Churruca's Death, oil on canvas by Eugenio Álvarez Dumont, Prado Museum

In 1805, a few months before his death, Churruca married María Dolores Ruiz de Apodaca, niece of Juan Ruiz de Apodaca, in 1797. Doña María was only 19 when Churruca died.

He commanded the 74-gun San Juan Nepomuceno in the Battle of Trafalgar, when a cannonball caused him injuries that cost him his life. It seems that he made true the words he said before the battle:

Si llegas a saber que mi navío ha sido hecho prisionero, di que he muerto.

[If you come to hear that my ship has been captured, say I am dead]

—Cosme Damián Churruca[1]

Churruca, whose leg had been torn off by a cannonball, the deck of his ship covered by the blood of his wounded and dead seamen, continued to voice the command "fire". After Trafalgar, the ship was taken into British service as HMS San Juan and served as a supply hulk for many years at Gibraltar. In honour of Churruca's courage, the cabin he had occupied while alive bore his name on a brass plate, and all who entered it were required to remove their hats as a mark of respect for a gallant enemy.[2]

Sources & references[edit]

  1. ^ San Juan, Víctor (2005) Trafalgar: tres armadas en combate ISBN 84-7737-121-0
  2. ^ Harbron, John D. (1988), Trafalgar and the Spanish Navy ISBN 0-87021-695-3