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Royal Navy Commander attempts to save man washed overboard

Year 1913

Read by Robert Wilde-Evans – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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Tomkinson, Wilfred, Commander, R.N., H.M.S. Wolf.

Stanhope Gold Medal 1913

At about 11 a.m. on the 20th November, 1913, William H. Ball, A.B., was washed overboard from submarine B4 off Bigbury Bay, Devon, the water being very cold with a heavy sea running.

In response to a signal from the submarine the destroyer Wolf raced at full speed to the place, and on the man being seen in an apparently helpless state Commander Tomkinson at once plunged in from the Wolf, and having caught the man, succeeded in bringing him close to that vessel.

A lifebuoy was then thrown, to which he held on to with a view to both being pulled on board, but unfortunately the buoy broke, throwing them again into the water.

On coming to the surface Commander Tomkinson, who was now much exhausted, grasped a line which was thrown, but would not come on board until all hope of saving the seaman had gone.

Owing to the rough sea and the heavy motion of the ship Commander Tomkinson ran extreme risk of being taken under the Wolf as she drove down to leeward.

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