London, July 3 : A ship's log describing the Battle of Trafalgar and Lord Nelson's famous "England expects" signal has emerged after 200 years.
According to a report in The Sun, the rare document - in copperplate handwriting - details events aboard HMS Belleisle, the first ship in the British line.
The double-sided, A3-size document was discovered carefully folded up and boxed at a home in the Midlands.
It had been handed down through the same family and experts have verified that it dates from the period of the decisive battle on October 21, 1805.
HMS Belleisle was commanded by Captain William Hargood in the clash in which Nelson led 27 British ships against a French and Spanish fleet off Cape Trafalgar, south-west Spain.
The Belleisle's log records how she was attacked by four enemy ships, losing all her masts and suffering 126 dead and wounded, but fought on.
Thought to have been transcribed later from notes made by Belleisle's captain, the log begins: "At day light saw the Enemy's fleet bearing East 9 miles, 33 sail of the line, 5 frigates, 2 sloops."
Other entries include "6am: Answered the General Signal to prepare for battle, made all sail bearing down on the enemy."
And it adds, "Answered the General Signal from Lord Nelson, that England expected every man to do his duty."
Nelson actually asked for the message that England "confides", meaning "is confident", to be flown in signal flags, but "expects" was substituted because it was quicker to display.
During hours of savage close-quarters fighting, the French and Spanish lost 22 ships and 7,000 men. The British lost 450 men but no ships, though Nelson was killed by a musket ball.
According to Charles Hanson, from Hanson's Auctioneers, "This discovery is an extremely exciting and romantic piece of history. It was the day that Lord Nelson was mortally wounded and died just after 4.30pm on HMS Victory."