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Boy rescued from shark infested waters

Year 1871

Read by John Wilson – Assistant Secretary, Royal Humane Society

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George Shergold Smith – RHS Bronze Medal Case

On 19 September 1870, the Beacon class gunboat, HMS Fly was at sea patrolling off the coast of Africa. At 10.30 am, James Port, Boy 1st class, fell overboard and Lieutenant George S. Smith and Stoker Daniel Doody immediately jumped overboard in an endeavour to save his life.

They reached the boy and both supported him as they were unable to swim back to the ship. So, all they could do was to tread water and wait for help. Meanwhile a boat from the ship was launched and having determined their location rowed to their position and pulled them aboard. Sharks were often seen in this area of the sea, so the bravery of the rescuers was particularly praiseworthy.

Captain Phillips, commander of HMS Fly, reported their brave actions and the Admiralty nominated them to the Royal Humane Society. The Society awarded Bronze Medals to Smith and Doody and these were sent to the Admiralty in March 1871 for later presentation to the awardees.

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