Author Topic: UK Sea Cadets help piece together the history of Nelson's flag  (Read 3001 times)

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Offline big bad john (John Hill)

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Cadets help piece together the history of Nelson's flag
By Stewart Payne
(Filed: 21/02/2005)

A buff envelope found in a long-ignored locker during a routine clear-out at the London headquarters of the Sea Cadets could easily have been discarded.

Instead the envelope, bearing the words "Nelson's flag", was opened to reveal two scraps of cloth.

Sea Cadet Alex Dean-Roberts with part of the flag
No one within the Sea Cadet movement could recall how the envelope came to be in the locker and whether the tea towel-sized fragments were genuine.

Experts called in to examine the material discovered that the thread-count, weave and dye patterns matched those of a piece of the Victory's shot-torn battle ensign which is held at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

Delighted and enthused by the discovery, the Sea Cadet Corp is now trying to trace other pieces of the White Ensign that flew on the Victory during the conquest of the French and Spanish fleets.

It hopes it may be possible to re-create a part of the flag, torn up by Nelson's sailors as a keepsake during his funeral in St Paul's Cathedral, in time for the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Trafalgar later this year.

These will include a re-enactment in September of the funeral procession when Nelson's body was borne up the Thames from Greenwich to Whitehall.

Lt Roger Busby, of the Sea Cadets, said: "It would be a fitting tribute if our cadets could trace other surviving pieces of the flag and present it at the ceremony."

The white ensign flew from Victory's flagstaff during the battle in October 1805. After Nelson fell, arrangements were made for a state funeral.

John Graves, a curator at the National Maritime Museum, said there was a clamour in the popular press for Nelson's crew to accompany his coffin.

In the cathedral the sailors were supposed reverentially to fold the flag, which measured approximately 35ft by 25ft, and lay it on a table to be placed inside the coffin.

"As the coffin was being lowered into the crypt, Sir Isaac Heard, the Garter King at Arms, read out the many titles of Lord Nelson," Mr Graves said.

"It seems that, quite spontaneously, the sailors grabbed the flag and ripped off a section which they quickly subdivided."

Mr Graves said it was likely that the pieces were further shared and it was impossible to say how many of those shreds survive.

The rest of the flag is believed to have been placed inside the coffin.

Apart from the two pieces at the Lambeth headquarters of the Sea Cadets and the remnant at the National Maritime Museum, there are two more segments, one on the Victory at Portsmouth and another in the Portsmouth Museum.

The piece at the National Maritime Museum has been temporarily removed from display in preparations for the Nelson and Napoleon Exhibition, to be staged there between July 7 and Nov 13.

A small scrap of the flag was sold from a private collection last year. It fetched  £47,800 at auction.

Offline Nerf herder

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Re: UK Sea Cadets help piece together the history of Nelson's flag
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2005, 15:17:35 »
Geesh...thankfully someone looked before they threw it into the trash!

Can you imagine if they didn't?   :o

Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who kept their swords.--Ben Franklin

"Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion."
    -Norman Schwartzkopf