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Captain descends 80 feet to save soldier trapped in well

Year 1886

Read by Lloyd Wakelin – Governor, Royal Humane Society

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McRae, H.N., Captain, 45th (Rattray’s) Sikhs.

Stanhope Gold Medal 1886.

At 5 a.m. on the 5th October, 1886, a trumpeter of the Royal Artillery was crossing the compound of Captain Holmes’s bungalow at Rawal Pindi, when he fell down a well. On hearing the alarm, Captain Holmes, Captain McRae, and Lieutenant Taylor proceeded to the spot. On arriving they found that Mr. Grose had preceded them, and had let down a well-rope which was of sufficient length to reach the soldier, and capable of sustaining him for a time.

Both Captain McRae and Captain Holmes volunteered to go down, but as the former was a light weight it was decided that he should make the trial, Captain Holmes demurring, as he wished to undertake the risk himself. The rope being very weak, it could not possibly have borne Captain Holmes great weight.

Captain McRae was accordingly let down by means of a four-strand tent rope, and on reaching the water found the soldier practically insensible; he therefore decided to go up with him.

Captain Holmes was at the head of the rope, and his strength enabled him to lift both completely. At every haul the amount gained was held in check by the other persons above. After hauling up about ten or fifteen feet the rope broke, precipitating Captain McRae and his charge to the bottom of the well. A second attempt was then made, and both were brought to the surface.

The depth of the well was eighty-five feet of which twelve feet was water. It was quite dark at the time.

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