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Commander attempts to save life in crocodile-infested water

Year 1899

Read by Jemima Grandy – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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Charlton, E.F.B., Commander, R.N.

At 5 p.m. on the 29th June, 1899, the steam cutter belonging to H.M.S. Orlando grounded on a sand bank in Muda River one mile below Sumatal, near Penang. The river is some eighty yards wide, with a depth of twelve to sixteen feet, and flows with a strong current. In order to get the cutter afloat, Commander Charlton, Lieut. Hyde, and Edward C. Holloway, petty officer carried out an anchor as far as the depth of water would allow, when dropping the anchor all three were swept off their feet by the current.

Lieutenant Hyde succeeded in reaching the stranded boat, but Mr. Holloway was unable to do this, and was directed by Commander Charlton to try and gain the opposite bank, about thirty yards distant, he himself accompanying him.

When about five yards from the bank Holloway suddenly threw up his arms and sank. Commander Charlton at once dived and caught him by the hair, but this being short he slipped from his grasp, and although the Commander dived again several times he did not succeed in finding him, and he drowned. Meanwhile Lieut. Hyde left the cutter and swam to the place, but was too late to render any assistance, although he remained by Commander Charlton till a landing was effected about fifty yards lower down.

Great risk was incurred, the river being infested with crocodiles.

The Silver Medal was voted to Commander Charlton, and a Testimonial on Vellum to Lieut. Richard Hyde.

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