George Augustus Westphal
|George Augustus Westphal|
|Born||26 July 1785
Nova Scotia, British North America
|Died||12 January 1875
|Allegiance||United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland
|Years of service||1798–?|
Sir George Augustus Alexander Westphal, Kt. (26 July 1785 – 12 January 1875) was a Nova Scotian and an admiral in the Royal Navy who served in more than 100 actions. He was midshipman on HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar.
Early life 
George was born on 26 July 1785 in Nova Scotia, British North America, the son of George Westphal and older brother of Admiral Philip Westphal. British Naval Biographical Dictionary, 1849 provides a date of birth of 27 March 1785.
He joined the Royal Navy aged 13 as a first class volunteer on board the Royal navy frigate HMS Porcupine stationed in North America. Later he moved to serve on the home station and in the West Indies as a Masters mate and midshipman on the Echo and Tisiphone.
Battle of Trafalgar 
On 21 October 1805 Westphal now a 20 year old midshipman was at the centre of the historic Battle of Trafalgar fighting on Nelsons flagship Victory. Westphal was wounded in head by shot during the fighting and taken to the sick bay, where he was laid near to the injured Horatio Nelson. During his treatment in cockpit, somebody made a pillow for Westphal to lay on, using Nelson's rolled up coat. The dried blood from Westphal's wounds bonded some of his hair to part of the coat, the surgeon had to cut away the coat before he could treat Westphal. These fragments of Nelson's coat were kept as a memento by Westphal for the rest of his life.
Westphal explained in an 1842 article in the United Service journal;
"When I was carried down wounded [George wrote], I was placed by the side of his lordship; and his coat was rolled up and put as the substitute for a pillow under my head, which was then bleeding very much from the wound I had received. When the battle was over, and an attempt was made to remove the coat, several of the bullions of the epaulet were found to be so firmly glued, unto my hair, by the coagulated blood from my wound, that the bullions four or five of them, were cut off and left in my hair; one of which I still have in my possession".
Many years after the battle Westphal was asked to identify Nelson's coat for the Admiralty, Prince Albert had bought it for the Greenwich Museum. George was able to authenticate it with his treasured fragments. It is said that he had assured the Admiralty of the authenticity of the coat if part of the epaulette was missing.
After Trafalgar 
On 15 August 1806  Westphal was promoted to lieutenant on the Demerara sloop in the West Indies. He was captured when a French privateer took the merchant ship he was returning to England on, during which he was again severely wounded. However he escaped from prison in Guadaloupe and was picked up by an American ship. He returned to the West Indies as a lieutenant aboard HMS Neptune, and later HMS Belleisle, ships under the command of Commodore Sir George Cockburn. He fought on land during the 1809 invasion of Martinique.
He was promoted to post-captain on 12 August 1819 and in 1822 was placed in command of HMS Jupiter and took Lord Amherst to India to serve as governor general. He was knighted on his return to England and served as flag captain to Sir George Cockburn in 1832 but was invalided out of active service in 1834.
Westphal retired to Hove in Sussex where he lived at the same house until his death, 2 Brunswick Square (1836–1875). On the retired list, he was promoted to rear admiral (17 August 1851), vice admiral (10 September 1857) and finally admiral (23 March 1863).
When Westphal died on 12 January 1875, he was the last surviving Royal Navy officer to have fought at Trafalgar on board HMS Victory and had lived until the age of 90, some 70 years after seeing Nelson die. He was buried in the family vault at the St Andrew's Church, Church Road, Hove.
See also 
- Plaque - Admiral Sir George Augustus Westphal served in over 100 actions and wounded at Trafalgar on HMS Victory lived here 1836-1875 by Hove Borough Council
- Gravesite of Admiral Sir George Augustus Westphal
- House of Admiral Sir George Augustus Westphal, Hove, England
- Image of Nelson's Jacket used to assist Westphal
- Biography of Westphal
- Weston, William (1550?-1615) Dictionary of National Biography, 1885–1900, Volume 60, Westphal, George Augustus by John Knox Laughton.
- Nova Scotians - George Augustus Westphal
- "WESTPHAL, Sir GEORGE AUGUSTUS ALEXANDER". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
- Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy, 1660-1815 1