Naval General Service Medal.Superb 3-clasp including Trafalgar, severely wounded in action at Trafalgar, serving aboard H.M.S. Bellerophon, resulting in the loss of his left arm and the award of £40 from the Patriotic Fund

Item type:

Product code: A8592

Item condition: G.V.F.

Our price: £15,750.00

Currently out of stock

Medal Description

Naval General Service,  3 clasps, Camperdown, Egypt, Trafalgar
Alexr. Burns
A unique name on the rolls. With silver buckle brooch bar, and old somewhat frayed ribbon.
Prov. Spink 1997; Dixon’s Gazette, Autumn 2005 (£16,000). 
Served at Trafalgar aboard Bellerophon, one of the finest ships for the battle.
Confirmed on Message roll as Burns, Camperdown, (HMS Agincourt) Trafalgar (Bellerophon) and Burnes as Egypt (Agincourt).
With research by Message confirming one and the same man.  Due no doubt as often with Egypt, to the application book opening after and separate to other clasps. In the N.G.S. roll compiled by Colin Message, appearing on the DNW. website, the two are recognised as being one and the same man. A letter from the compiler is included confirming.
Alexander Burns/Burnes was born in Dumfries. He served on H.M.S. Agincourt from April 1796, aged 20 years. Serving on the ship as a Landsman, he was present at the battle of Camperdown, 11 October 1897, where the Dutch fleet, under Vice-Admiral Jan Willem de Winter was defeated by the squadrons led by Admiral Adam Duncan. Still rated as a Landsman in the same ship, he then served off the coast of Egypt, July-September 1801, the ship being employed in landing troops in Aboukir Bay. Burns joined H.M.S. Bellerophon in November 1804 and as an Ordinary Seaman served in the ship at the battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805. He was wounded in action at Trafalgar, which resulted in the amputation of his left arm below the elbow. As a consequence he was awarded the sum of £40 from the Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund. He was discharged as an invalid in June 1806, aged 27 years and was granted a pension of £6.13s.4d.
At 11 am Bellerophon's signal midshipman, John Franklin, noted that Nelson had hoisted the signal "England expects that every man will do his duty", and an hour and a half later Bellerophon (Captain Cooke) entered the battle as the fifth ship in Collingwood's lee column. She was astern of the 80-gun HMS Tonnant and ahead of the 74-gun HMS Achille, with the 74-gun HMS Colossus close by her port side.
At 12:30 pm, Bellerophon cut through the enemy line, slipping under the stern of the Spanish 74-gun Monarca and firing two broadsides into her. Moving past the Spanish ship, Bellerophon collided with the French 74-gun Aigle, hitting Aigle's port quarter with her starboard bow, and entangling the two ships' yards. Locked together, they exchanged broadsides at close range, with soldiers aboard Aigle sweeping Bellerophon's decks with musket fire and grenades. Lieutenant Cumby noticed that the officers were being targeted, and that Cooke's distinctive epaulettes marked him out. Cumby urged him to take them off, only for Cooke to reply "It is too late now to take them off. I see my situation but I will die like a man." Bellerophon was now sustaining fire from Aigle and three other ships, the Spanish San Juan Nepomuceno and Bahama, and the French Swiftsure. Bellerophon's main and mizzenmasts were shot away at 1 pm, and at 1:11 pm, Captain Cooke was hit and killed.  An eyewitness recorded that 'He had discharged his pistols very frequently at the enemy, who as often attempted to board, and he had killed a French officer on his own quarterdeck. He was in the act of reloading his pistols ... when he received two musket-balls in the breast. He immediately fell, and upon the quartermaster going up and asking him if he should take him down below, his answer was "No, let me lie quietly one minute. Tell Lieutenant Cumby never to strike."
With Cooke dead, Cumby assumed command. Bellerophon's decks had largely been cleared by French fire, and boarding parties began to make their way onto the ship. Several French sailors climbed out onto Bellerophon's spritsail yard, but a Bellerophon crewman released the brace holding the yard, causing them to fall into the sea. French sailors holding onto Bellerophon's rails had their hands beaten until they were forced to let go. Bellerophon's ensign had been shot away three times, so infuriating her yeoman of signals, Christopher Beaty, that he took the largest Union Jack he could find and climbed up into the mizzen rigging and hoisted it across the shrouds. The French riflemen on Aigle reportedly held their fire as he did this, in admiration of his bravery. The two ships were so close together that gun crews on their lower decks were fighting hand to hand at the gunports, while grenades lobbed through the ports caused heavy casualties. One grenade thrown into Bellerophon exploded in the gunner's storeroom, blowing open the door but fortunately blowing closed the door of the magazine. The resulting fire was quickly extinguished, preventing a catastrophic explosion.
By 1:40 pm, having been under heavy fire for over an hour, Aigle's crew lowered her gunports and slowly moved away. When the smoke cleared, Cumby noticed that the Spanish Monarca, which Bellerophon had first engaged, had struck her colours. Cumby sent an officer in a boat to take possession of her. Bellerophon's crew now worked to make repairs and clear away wreckage. She briefly fired her guns again when the van of the combined fleet, led by Rear-Admiral Pierre Dumanoir le Pelley, made a belated attempt to come to the assistance of the centre and rear. The attack was beaten off, and at 5 pm, Bellerophon's guns ceased firing. At 5:30 pm Cumby sent a boat to take possession of Bahama, which had also struck her colours. By the end of the battle Bellerophon had sustained casualties of 146 killed and wounded. 
For the next seven days, Bellerophon's crew were occupied in repairing damage, rigging jury masts, and trying to ride out the storm that struck the area immediately after the battle. She put into Gibraltar on 28 October 1805, and underwent emergency repairs to allow her to return to England as an escort for HMS Victory, together with HMS Belleisle.  Both Belleisle and Bellerophon required urgent attention, but it was deemed appropriate that they should have the honour of accompanying Nelson's body back to Britain aboard Victory
With copied research including muster roll extracts. Also included is a  piece of research drawn from the ADM roll of all those  admitted to Hospital at Gibraltar. Of the 1201 counted as wounded at Trafalgar many died prior to reaching Gibraltar or were too slight for admission.  348 were admitted to hospital and their names, ship and nature of wound were noted.  The researcher has cross referenced the 348  against the medal roll to find 35 men who lived to receive their medal. Not content with that the researcher compiled a list of those men in receipt of the Lloyd's Patriotic Fund for wounds at Trafalgar, (some on the hospital  list some not) listing name and ship but not nature of wound. Cross referenced this resulted in 127 men receiving medals of which only 36 medals to  casualties are recorded extant.  Remarkable piece of work. Don't ask me how long that must have taken.
A particularly fine medal for Trafalgar
Share this page

R. & A. Alcock Ltd
PO Box 14 Castletown, IM99 5YY
Telephone: 01624 827664 - 07624 488458

© R. & A. Alcock Ltd 2011 | Accessibility | Privacy | Terms and Conditions | Web Design Sussex and SEO by iSOS Web Design