Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (13 January 2021)

Date of Auction: 13th January 2021

Sold for £12,000

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 2 clasps, Copenhagen 1801, Trafalgar (Thomas Bradford.) some minor contact wear and edge bruising, otherwise good very fine £6,000-£8,000


Provenance: Whalley Collection 1877; Hyde Greg Collection 1887; Sotheby, July 1943; Seaby, August 1950; Hayward, October 1971.

Thomas Bradford is a unique name on the rolls and is confirmed as a Landsman aboard the Bellona at Copenhagen, and as an Able Seaman aboard the Colossus (Captain J. N. Morris) at Trafalgar.

At the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805, the Colossus 74 was the sixth vessel in line behind Vice-Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood’s Royal Sovereign 100, and coming into the action she forced the Swiftsure 74 to bear up with her opening broadsides and then devastated the French Argonaute 74 in ten minutes after the two vessels had become interlocked. She next took the fight to both the Spanish Bahama 74 and the Swiftsure with the result that both surrendered, the latter following an emphatic broadside from the Orion 74, Captain Edward Codrington. The prominent part the Colossus played in the battle was illustrated by the fact that she suffered the most casualties in the fleet, with forty men killed and sixty wounded. One of the latter was Morris himself, who received a severe knee injury but continued in command with a tourniquet that he had applied to his leg until being carried below at the end of the engagement. Symbolically, his ship’s aggression was exemplified by a game-cock which escaped the hen-coop when it was smashed to pieces, and which perched near Morris throughout the action, screaming a presumed defiance at the enemy. Following the battle the Colossus was taken in tow by the Agamemnon 64, Captain Sir Edward Berry, and she eventually reached Gibraltar where Morris was hospitalised.