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Royal Navy Lieutenant dives in fully clad to save 11

Year 1958

Read by Lizzie Mourdant – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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Hall, David John Nowell, Lieutenant, Royal Navy

Stanhope Gold Medal 1958

Saved at great risk to his own life, that of an 11-years-old boy. On the night of the 13th September, 1958 the motor yacht Saint Francis, on passage from Corfu to Italy, ran into bad weather. The sky was completely overcast with no star visible. It was raining and a fresh wind had caused a short steep sea in which the yacht laboured heavily at a speed of 11 knots. At a few minutes past 10 o’clock. an 11-years -old boy (a passenger) came on deck to be seasick but, as he reached the rail, the ship gave a heavy lurch which flung him over-board.

Luckily a deck-hand saw him go. The engines were immediately stopped and the ship turned down to leeward. Some minutes later the cries of the boy were heard and, for a brief moment, he was sighted at a considerable distance from the ship in the beams of a searchlight; but an attempt to launch the dinghy failed as she broached to, filled with water, stove in her side against the yacht’s stern, and sank.

Without hesitation Lieutenant David Hall, Royal Navy, dived overboard fully clad and’ although not an exceptionally strong swimmer, succeeded in reaching the boy, who was utterly exhausted. Lieut. Hall swam back to the ship with the boy and both were helped aboard since neither had the strength by this time to negotiate a Jacob’s ladder. There is no doubt that Lieut Hall’s prompt and gallant action saved the boy’s life.

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