Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (30 March 2011)

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Date of Auction: 30th March 2011

Sold for £6,200

Estimate: £5,000 - £5,500

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 1 clasp, Trafalgar (Robert Dent) a little polished, otherwise nearly very fine


Robert Dent served as a Private, Royal Marines, aboard H.M.S. Defence at Trafalgar. His name also appears on the Greenwich Hospital roll.

At Trafalgar, H.M.S. Defence74 guns, was one of the lee column led by Vice-Admiral Collingwood, but, being very close to its rear, was not able to engage the enemy until some two and a half hours after firing had been commenced by the foe. Then, for nearly half an hour she plied her guns at the French 74, Berwick; afterwards assailing the Spanish San Ildefonso, also a 74, which fought for about an hour and then struck her flag. It is fair to say that she had been previously engaged by others of the British fleet, which had contributed materially to her roll of casualties, amounting to something like 200 men killed or wounded.

Defence had thirty-six killed and wounded. Her damages were confined to a shot through the mainmast, which was otherwise cut in several places. Much of her lower and topmast rigging was shot away, besides which her gaff was cut in two, and she received some injury to her hanging knees and chain plates. The Defence and her prize, anchoring that evening (as the dying Nelson had desired the fleet should do), weathered the gale that followed the battle and thus the San Ildefonso became one of the few trophies of victory saved from the tempest on this occasion. It is noticeable that a large proportion of the officers and crew of the Defence at Trafalgar were Scotsmen.