Last surviving Trafalgar flag on the auction block for 15K pounds

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London, Oct.8 (ANI): The only surviving Union Jack to have been flown by the Royal Navy at the Battle of Trafalgar is expected to fetch 15000 pounds on the auction block.

Discovered in a drawer, the flag was flown from the jack-staff of HMS Spartiate, one of Nelson's warships, as the battle against the French navy raged 204 years ago this month.

After the defeat of the French, a grateful crew presented the flag to Lieutenant James Clephan, one of the most popular officers in the Royal Navy and one of the few to have risen from the ranks.

After Trafalgar, Clephan was promoted to captain and went on to command his own ship.

The 11ft x 7ft (3.5m x 2.1m) Union Jack was made by the Spartiate's crew from 31 bunting panels and is riddled with holes made by shot and shell splinters during the battle.

It has been in the captain's family since the battle but is now being sold at auction.

Charles Miller, who is selling the flag in London on Trafalgar Day, October 21, said: "We believe it is the only existing flag that flew at Trafalgar. It is one of the most important historical items any collector could expect to handle. The damage is probably from bullet holes or splinter fragments, but despite this it is in amazing condition."

According to The Times, Clephan, from Fife in Scotland, had begun life as a weaver but joined the Merchant Navy when the industry went into decline. He was press ganged in 1794 aged 26 and forced to join the Royal Navy.

He was made a midshipman in 1801 and rose to lieutenant later that year for distinguishing himself in the successful capture of the French ship Chevrette.

At the time of Trafalgar he was First Lieutenant on the 74-gun Spartiate, which had been captured from the French at the Battle of the Nile and was the ship from which the shot that blinded Nelson in his right eye had been fired.

In 1811 he was promoted to commander. By the time of his retirement in 1840 he had risen to the rank of captain, one of only 16 press-ganged seamen to achieve that rank out of an estimated 300,000 men.

He retired to live in Edinburgh where he died in 1851 aged 83. (ANI)

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