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  #1  
Old 09-10-2009, 15:38
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Default HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

The foreign contingent among the draft may well not know that... Recently the last surviving Union Jack from the battle of Trafalgar is to be Auctioned in London. It is expected to fetch in the region of £15k.
The flag was from HMS Spartiate,a 74 gun French ship captured at the battle of the nile, ( named as Sparti ). It was found in a drawer by one of the decendants of her First Lieutenant, James Clephan.He had the Flag presented to him after the battle by the crew, an esteemed honour
She was broken up in 1842.
I do think that looking at this flag with all the holes from the battle, should go for much more than estimated as it is an object that can never be replaced and that it is the epitomy of all that is England and the Royal Navy. It should be bought and placed in a museum where it can be properly preserved and viewed by all who want to pay thier respects.
Les
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  #2  
Old 09-10-2009, 17:25
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Default Re: HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

Good suggestion Les, the Victory museum at Pompy would be ideal.
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  #3  
Old 09-10-2009, 20:51
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Default Re: HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

Absolutely fantastic relic. Let's hope it indeed finds a place in Portsmouth. When is the auction ... will check my piggybank.
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Old 09-10-2009, 21:11
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Default Re: HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

Incredible flag,inspirational,let's hope it's displayed in a fitting manner for all to see.
Sid.
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  #5  
Old 09-10-2009, 21:25
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Default Re: HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

This unique, priceless relic from our history should be bought for the nation for all to see. Could you imagine any other country not doing so? After all, it would still cost rather less than many individual MP's annual expenses!
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Old 09-10-2009, 22:07
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Angry Re: HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

The more I read about this auction the more annoyed and saddened I am becoming. By what I can gather the flag passed into the possesion of one Charles Miller who owns an auction house. He sells amongst other things marine antiquities. In interviews he has stated and I quote 'It is one of the most important, historical items any collector could expect to handle.What a thing to say from a professional antiques dealer. We just don't handle these sorts of things. It is these types of "Throw Away" comments that leads me to question wether this sale is purely for monetary gain and if it is it is damming in its entirity to all the blood that was spilt over this flag.
The Auction is to be held on ( You guessed it ) the 21st October. Trafalgar Day.
I have included a link from a press source and toward the end there are comments from the public,notably one fellow from the states who comments that us Brits don't value our national treasures very much. How true.
This whole episode is disgusting and shows just how far this wonderful countries morals have fallen.
If any member knows of anyone who can stop this happening please do so
Without Prejudice.
Les A....


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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...0-auction.html
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  #7  
Old 10-10-2009, 13:30
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Default Re: HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

Hello Les,

Thank you for drawing my attention to this thread. I am not surprised at all. It is a national disgrace the flag that so many sailors gave their lives for is to be sold. I really hope it is purchased by a British institution put I won't hold my breath. I will watch with interest to see the outcome.

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Alan.
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Old 12-10-2009, 16:22
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Default Re: HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

There is a full page feature article in today's Daily Mail about this Union Jack, HMS Spartiate and the flag's first owner. Aparantly he was press ganged into the navy and rose through the ranks to become captain. One of the very few to do so. Makes interesting reading!
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Old 12-10-2009, 16:49
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Default Re: HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

...just one point. It is claimed that the Spartiate flag is unique, in being the only surviving Union Jack from Trafalgar. It is not; the Union flag from the MINOTAUR also survives....it was laid up in Selling Church, Faversham for many years before being removed for conservation. Two captured Spanish ensigns from Trafalgar also still exist.
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Old 12-10-2009, 16:58
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Default Re: HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

If you have not seen the article, here is a synopsis.

"On the most memorable day of his extraordinary career, it is unlikely that 2nd Lieutenant James Clephan gave much thought to the Union Jack being shot to pieces on the jackstaff of his ship.

Clephan was a poor man who never intended to go to sea. But fate, economic circumstance and his own personal courage conspired to place him on the quarterdeck of one of Admiral Lord Nelson's men o' war, off Cape Trafalgar in the autumn of 1805. His life had begun 37 years earlier amid far less distinguished circumstances, in Fife. As a boy, Clephan was apprenticed to a weaver in the cottage industry which flourished in that part of Scotland in the mid-18th century. But domestic looms were soon to be overtaken by the Industrial Revolution. Factories replaced cottages and the American Revolution of 1776 then took away one of the weavers' major export markets.

Clephan was not alone in seeking alternative work. Coastal Fife has a rich tradition of producing sailors and it was to the sea that the young man turned. Initially, he joined the merchant fleet, but the Royal Navy soon sequestered his skills. Press gangs roamed Britain's ports looking for men to put before the mast. Records show that on July 23, 1794, the 'Impress Service' caught up with Clephan, then 26.
 
But for Clephan, this was to be the start of an extraordinary naval career. His first boat was the 26-gun Sibyl, aboard which he was rated an able-bodied 2nd Class Mate, reflecting some previous experience. By October 1796 he had been promoted to Master's Mate, stowing his hammock aboard the 36-gun frigate Doris.

In 1800-01, HMS Doris, commanded by Captain John Holliday, made a thorough nuisance of herself to the French, capturing six merchant brigs and other prizes. During these cruises Clephan must have impressed his captain, because in January 1801 he was made Midshipman. By now he was in his early 30s and probably more than twice as old as some of his contemporaries. Nevertheless, his achievement was notable. Within seven years of being press-ganged, he was a junior officer and would be entitled to have 'Mr' before his name.

On the night of July 21, 1801, boats from the Doris rowed into the anchorage off the northern French port of Brest. There, in the face of French opposition, a party of British sailors boarded the French corvette Chevrette. After fierce fighting with cutlasses, the Chevrette's cables were cut and she was sailed out of the bay to the waiting British squadron. It was a bloody little action. Several of the British had arms cut off trying to board the Chevrette. By the time the fighting was over, three Royal Navy officers and nine men lay dead or dying. More than 50 were wounded. But such daring merited promotion for those who led the way and survived. Among them was Midshipman Clephan - the first Briton to set foot on the enemy deck.

For this he was immediately promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. The elevation was signed off by Admiral Cornwallis, who told Clephan: 'You well deserve your promotion. Few officers have earned it so hardly.' This could not be denied; both socially and physically, Clephan had overcome enormous obstacles and dangers to get so far. He was transferred to the 90-gun HMS Namur, where he served until the Peace of Amiens in 1802 brought Europe a respite from conflict. But the calm didn't last long. Clephan had enough time to marry before a resumption of hostilities with France saw him back at sea the following year aboard the 74-gun HMS Spartiate, a French-built ship captured at the Battle of the Nile.

Spartiate had joined up with Nelson's fleet when his pursuit of the Franco-Spanish force took him across the Atlantic and back. The two fleets finally met off the coast of south-west Spain. Nelson sent his immortal signal, 'England expects that every man will do his duty', and battle was joined. Bringing up the rear was Spartiate - with Clephan aboard - and Spartiate's closest confederate, the 74-gun HMS Minotaur. Being so far behind, they did not take part in the initial stages of the battle, but when ten enemy men o' war attempted to turn and attack the British centre, including the battered Victory, the Spartiate and Minotaur were there to block their paths.
The enemy had closed on HMS Spartiate and chainshot shrieked just feet over Clephan's head. Muskets crackled from the tops of the Spanish 80-gun Neptuno, whose own decks were running with blood. The Spartiate's gun crews were battering her mercilessly, their steady broadsides helping to drown the howls of the British injured and dying. Around Lt Clephan and his shipmates, the seascape off Cape Trafalgar offered any number of hellish scenes.

A single shot had raked the entire interior of the French battleship Bucentaure, killing or maiming 40 of its crew. Aboard the nearby British flagship Victory, Admiral Lord Nelson's secretary had been cut in half by a cannon ball. Eight marines on board were also butchered by a single Spanish barshot.

Some 4,000 sailors would be dead by the evening. William Beattie, the surgeon who treated the dying Nelson, had another 145 casualties to attend during the day. Throughout the action, the tablecloth-size sewn patchwork of 31 red, white and blue strips, which had begun life as naval bunting, had fluttered at the bow of HMS Spartiate. Musketry and shrapnel had rent it - but 204 years later it survives as an unique and enduring relic; not only of the greatest battle in the Royal Navy's history but also of one of its most remarkable sailors.
During the action, Spartiate and Minotaur took on the Spanish warship Neptuno, which was forced to surrender. Compared with other ships at Trafalgar, Spartiate's butcher's bill was slight; three men killed and 20 wounded. Many thousands of British sailors had done their duty that day. After such an immense and total victory, there was a rash of promotions. Once again, James Clephan was foremost among them. He was immediately elevated to the rank of First Lieutenant.

He was not only a brave sailor, but a popular one, too. Spartiate's crew, among whom Clephan was considered 'one of our own', presented him with the tatty Jack which had flown at the bow during the ship's most famous action. It is possible that it had been stitched together by the Jack Tars - as the ratings were known. Then in April 1811, he was promoted again, to the rank of Commander and given his first ship, the sloop Charybdis which saw action in the attempt to take New Orleans.

But in reality, his fighting career was nearing its end. After the post-Waterloo peace of 1815, Clephan was paid off at Deptford and put on half pay. By the time of his retirement, in 1840, he had achieved the rank of Captain. It is thought that James Clephan was one of only 16 men in Royal Navy history to have risen to this rank after being press-ganged.

Clephan died in Edinburgh in January 1851, aged 83. He had kept his flag, which still smelled of gunpowder, from that famous day almost half a century earlier. The relic has passed down the generations until today. For many years it has been kept in a darkened drawer to preserve it from further decay. Trafalgar Day - October 21 - this year will see it change hands for the first time in more than two centuries. "

You can read the full article on the Daily Mail website. (DailyMail.Com)
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  #11  
Old 21-10-2009, 19:46
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Default Re: HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

I have just read on teletext that the Spartiate Union Jack sold for £384,000 (including a 20% premium)! It didn't say who bought it, but it wasn't me. Though I wish I could have afforded it.
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  #12  
Old 22-10-2009, 04:37
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Default Re: HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

I understand that the union flag was flown at the fore of all the British ships on Nelson's direct instruction as he had anticipated that the action would quickly degenerate into a free-for-all and that there must be a way of recognising who was who to avoid "friendly fire". The flags were light and hand stitched from thinner fabric to ensure that even when blocked from wind they would still fly with maximum exposure to avoid being mistaken. A fantastic price to pay for this piece of history which must tell us how much people (enough of them to bid it up to this level) really appreciate heritage. However repugnant trade in precious artifacts like this might seem they would be lost forever without it. Sales of medals and awards are another topic that fit this category.....
tim
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  #13  
Old 24-10-2009, 13:51
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Default Re: HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

Flag of the Spartiale during the auction.

(For the benefit of Bee..........The Butler and Head Footman are holding it for me to take the picture!!!!!!!)
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  #14  
Old 07-01-2010, 15:53
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Default Re: HMS Spartiate and her Union Jack

Having only just joined this forum, I know that this topic is a few months old, but I did have an observation of the flag.
I have just received my latest issue of Naval History, where there is a short article on the auction of HMS Spartiate's Union Jack. There is a good photograph of the flag being held up, and what I immediately noticed was the difference in design compared with today's Union Jack. Namely the diagonal red stripes(St Patrick) are centered on the diagonal white stripes (St, Andrews Cross) And not offset.
Was there a change in design later on?
What my theory is, that maybe the crew of Spartiate, who sewed the flag, probably under the supervision of the sailmaker, that they did'nt want to waste time with the tedious task of measuring the off setting of the stripes.
Any comments on this?
I hope the flag will go on display where the public can view it. Its a national treasure for sure.
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