The Nelson Monument

decorated with flags for

Trafalgar Day


View from the East

Nelson Monuments decorated with flags for Trafalgar Day, 2011                                    Photo taken:  October 21, 2011


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     Nelson Monuments decorated with flags for Trafalgar Day, 2011


Nelson Monument

Trafalgar Day

Each year (if the weather is not too windy) on Trafalgar Day, October 21, the Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, flags are hung from the Nelson Monument on Calton Hill Edinburgh, and the white ensign is flown from the top of the monument.

The white ensign is the flag flown from British Royal Navy ships and shore establishments.

The photo above zooms in on the flags at the top of the monument.  Please click on the thumbnail image below to see the whole monument:

Nelson Monuments decorated with flags for Trafalgar Day, 2011

The Message

The flags hung from the monument spell out the message as it is likely to have been sent by Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, reading down each rope from right to left:  "England expects that every man will do his duty"

This message used the 'Marine Vocabulary' and a set of flags, hoisted in twelve lifts, each lift consisting of three or less flags, to send the message.

-  1st lift:  Three flags, for No.253, the code for ENGLAND

-  2nd lift:  Three flags, for No. 269, the code for EXPECTS

- etc.

However, the 'Marine Vocabulary' did not have a code for DUTY, so the last four lifts were:

-  9th lift:     Flag for No.4 for D, the 4th letter in  alphabet.

-  10th lift:  Two flags for No.21 for U, the 21st letter in the alphabet

-  11th lift:  Two flags for No.19 for T.

-  12th lift:  Two flags for No.24 for Y**

** In fact, the code was not quite as simple as above.  This page on the Archives & Collections Society web site gives fuller details about:

-  the flags used.  These included the use of some substitute flags.

-  how the numbers were allocated to letters of the alphabet.

More Photos

The photo at the top of this page is one of four that I took of the Nelson Monument on Trafalgar Day, 2011.  Here are all four photos.



Bob Henderson

Burdiehouse, Edinburgh

Thank you to Bob Henderson who wrote:

The Ensign

"I was really pleased to see your photos with the ensign on the flagpole.

Nelson Monuments decorated with flags for Trafalgar Day, 2011

I was involved for many years in putting these flags up for Trafalgar Day and we never flew the ensign as it was not safe to do so.

It is only with the recent repairs to the time ball etc. that this has again become possible.

Bob Henderson, Burdiehouse, Edinburgh:  October 22, 2011


Nelson Monument

Calton Hill