AN appeal has been launched to find the flag which helped secure a great Navy victory.

The flag was nailed to the mast of HMS Venerable by a young Sunderland sailor during the battle of Camperdown in 1797 – a dangerous and pivotal action which changed the course of the fight.

During the fighting, which took place off the coast of Norway, the mast with the Union Flag was felled, which could have been interpreted as surrender.

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But 22-year-old Jack Crawford climbed the mast under heavy fire to nail the new flag - helping to secure a British victory.

After the battle he was hailed a hero and was honoured at a great victory procession in London.

As Sunderland prepares to host The Tall Ships Races 2018, a campaign has started to bring the flag home to Wearside as a tribute to Mr Crawford.

It is believed it was last seen in 1890, when a bronze statue was erected in Sunderland’s Mowbray Park.

Michelle Daurat, project director for The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018, said: “As far as we are aware, they have never been seen again and we believe the time has come to find them.

“He died in poverty and his heroic actions – which turned the tide of war - have largely been forgotten. But we want to change that and I can’t think of a better tribute to him or to the huge role played by this city to the nation’s maritime heritage, than to return the colours to Wearside.

“If anyone, anywhere can help us track down the colours Jack nailed to the mast we desperately want to hear from them.”

Councillor John Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture at Sunderland City Council, said: “Jack Crawford is very much a local hero so it would be fantastic to find the colours after all this time and bring them home to Sunderland for The Tall Ships races 2018.”

Anyone who can shed light on the whereabouts of the colours is asked to contact 0191 2656111 or email emma@sortedpr.com.