Royal Humane Society Life-Saving Awards To Worcestershire Regiment Men

The Royal Humane Society origins began during a meeting on 18 April 1774, when Dr. William Hawes and Dr. Thomas Cogan each asked sixteen friends to help them in founding an institution devoted to reviving those apparently dead from drowning. Many of the founders were said to have been physicians or surgeons practising between Westminster and London Bridges; another was the poet and dramatist Oliver Goldsmith.

The Lord Mayor of London became the first President and the actor David Garrick was an early and generous supporter. The Institution became a Society; in 1776 it became 'The Humane Society' and was granted the prefix 'Royal' in 1787. A pamphlet issued in 1774 showed that the Institution aimed not only at reviving those apparently drowned but also at "diffusing a general knowledge of the manner of treating persons in a similar state, from various other causes; such as strangulation by the cord, suffocation by noxious vapours, &c. &c." In this it followed work already begun on the continent, where similar societies had been established since 1767 in Amsterdam, Milan, Venice, Hamburg, Paris and (also in 1774) St Petersburg. The Society is a charity who's work is maintained and supported by voluntary means.

Awards may be granted to those who have put their own lives at risk to save or attempt to save someone else. The awards granted for these acts of bravery include bronze and silver medals and Testimonials on Vellum or Parchment.

In 1869 Queen Victoria gave permission for Army and Navy recipients to wear the Society's Silver or Bronze medals (or the ribbon) on the right breast in uniform (you will see examples of this on some of the photos below).

The Society may also give recognition to those who have contributed to the saving or attempted saving of life, though they may not have put their own life at risk. In these instances, a Certificate of Commendation may be granted.

Below is are details of those Worcestershire Regiment men who have received an award from the Royal Humane Society in date order:

RHS Medal front

Bronze Medal

RHS Medal reverse

Reverse of Bronze Medal


Sergeant-Major Nicholas Chapman of the Worcestershire Militia

On the 20th May 1855, he jumped fully clothed into the canal lock in Worcester to rescue a female who had fallen in and was in difficulty.

Award: Bronze Medal (Case number 15676)

Interestingly, at the time, the Crimean War was in progress and the Militia were embodied in the city of Worcester. Chapman may have had acting or temporary rank, but the unit's Sergeant-Major from 1852-71 was John Beatty.



Sergeant Edward Darke of the Worcestershire Militia

On the 29th June 1862, he plunged into the canal at Worcester and saved the life of a boy called Hyland, who had accidentally fallen in.

Award: Testimonial on Parchment



Lance Corporal Stephen McGovern, 36th Regiment (later the 2nd Bn Worcestershire Regiment)

On the 28th August 1862, he plunged into the canal at Kilkenny, Ireland, and saved the life of a female who had attempted suicide.

Award: Testimonial on Parchment


William Miles Prendergast

On the 15th July 1863, at Bognor, Sussex, assisted by Rowland Ticehurst, he rescued Reginald Bloxham a young boy aged 9, who had accidentally fallen into the sea.

Award (to each rescuer): Bronze Medal (Case number 17147)

William Prendergast was born in Bombay, India in 1843. He was commissioned in to the 29th (Worcestershire) Regiment on the 24th November 1863, joining the regiment in Dublin, Ireland. As an Ensign he was with the Regiment during the Belfast Riots (1864). In 1865/66 he was in Malta and from 1867 to 1869 in Canada. In the winter of 1869 he proceeded with the Regiment to Jamaica. In December 1870 Lieutenant Prendergast was ordered from Jamaica to take up duties of Fort Major at Trinidad. Early in 1873 the Regiment received orders to return to Europe. On landing at Cork, Ireland there then followed a period at Templemore followed by Dublin in 1874. The next move was Jersey in 1875, returning to U.K. in July 1876 (adjacent photo of him was taken around 1876). The remainder of his army career was spent with the Regiment in India.

He was promoted to the rank of Captain on the 24th February 1877. He retired from the army on 28th April 1885 with the honorary rank of Major. He died in 1926, aged 81. In his spare time he enjoyed drawing in watercolour. He also produced some of the illustrations for Major H. Everard's History of the 29th (Worcestershire) Regiment.

Captain Prendergast

William Miles Prendergast



Private John Draper, 36th Regiment (later the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment)

In May 1866, at Pembroke, he and Private James Coleman of the 58th Regiment swam out to sea to rescue John Grundy of the 47th Regiment and saved his life.

Award (to each rescuer): Bronze Medal (Case number 17749)


Lieutenant John Hassard Stewart Gibb, 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

On the 27th June 1884, at great personal risk, he dived fully clothed out of a cabin window of a boat moored at Esneh, on the River Nile, to rescue Abdu Salam Benané, an interpreter with the Egyptian Army, who had got into difficulties when swimming. Lieutenant Gibb (then a Captain in the Egyptian Army) swam to where Benané had disappeared, dived, found him and took him to the bank. The river at that point was about 450 yards wide and 10 feet 45 inches deep.

Award: Bronze Medal (Case number 22465)

On his mother's side Lieutenant Gibb was connected with the family of Ensign Richard Vance, who, though mortally wounded, saved the Regimental Colour of the 29th at Albuhera, in 1811. He joined the 29th in 1879 and was promoted into the 36th in 1880. He saw considerable foreign service, was awarded the DSO in the Boer War and later commanded the 1st Battalion. In 1907 he retired as Brevet Colonel then rejoined in WW1, when the commanded a Base Depot in France. He died in 1933. His medals are in the Regimental Museum and photographs of him at RHQ show him wearing the Bronze Medal.

Note: Lieutenant Gibb later became Colonel and commanded the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment from 1903 to 1907.


Lieut. J. H. S. Gibb

John Hassard Stewart Gibb

Capt. H. de B. Hovell

Captain Hugh de Berdt Hovell


Captain Hugh de Berdt Hovell, 2nd Battalion.

On the 21st September 1892, Private H. Hibbert of the Lancashire Fusiliers and another soldier were in a boat on a lake at Poona, India, when it sank in 8 feet 10 inches of water. Captain Hovell was driving past, saw what had happened, partially stripped and, at great personal risk, swam out sixty yards. He managed to rescue Hibbert, but the other man was drowned.

Award: Bronze Medal (Case number 26212)

Captain Hovell was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion in 1884 and was a totally dedicated regimental officer. He was awarded the DSO in the Boer War and commanded the 1st Battalion from 1907-08, then the 2nd Battalion from 1908-11, when he retired.

When First World War broke out in 1914, Hovell was on the retired list, but he soon found himself in command of the 13th (Reserve) Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, formed at Plymouth in November 1914. However, he was found to be eccentric in his manner and methods in dealing with his men and was removed from command to the retired list.

During 1915 he sought to retrieve his reputation and enlisted as a private soldier, aged 52, under an assumed name ( Hugh Nash) and served wit hhis old 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. He joined the 2nd Battalion on the 18th May 1915, with a draft of men after the Battalion's night attack at Festubert, joining at the village of Les Harisoirs. He was posted to 'A' Company. He served with his ‘old comrades’ in France for five months until his health broke down.

He died in 1923, aged 60.

His RHS Bronze Medal is in the Worcestershire Regimental Museum. In the adjacent photo he is seen wearing the medal ribbon above the right breast pocket.



Edward Thomas John Kerans

On the 10th June 1893, at great personal risk, he attempted to rescue Martin McNamara from drowning in the Camcor River, Parsonstown, Ireland.

Award: Bronze Medal (Case number 26842)

At the time Edward Kerans was a student, age 13, he must be one of the youngest recipients of an award by the Society. After serving with the Imperial Yeomanry in the Boer War and as a Lieutenant in the 5th (Militia) Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, he joined the 4th Worcestershire in 1903, being later seconded to serve in West Africa. During WW1 he was made Brevet Major for services in the field and when commanding the 4th Battalion was awarded the DSO. After the war he transferred to the Royal Tank Corps. He died in 1927, at the early age of 47. The adjacent photo shows him wearing the ribbon of the Bronze Medal. Early in 1988 his medals were shown at Spink's in an Exhibition of Life-Saving Awards (W. H. Fevyer Collection).

One of Lieut-Colonel Kerans's sons, Captain P. W. (Mickey) Kerans, served in the 1st Battalion and on 25th April 1941, died of wounds received in the Battle of Keren (a strange coincidence of names). Another son was Lieut. Commander John Kerans, who received the D.S.O. for effecting the escape of HMS Amethyst in the Yangtze Incident of 1949.


Lt-Col. E. T. J. Kerans

Edward Thomas John Kerans

Lt.-Col. F. H. Garnett



Frederick Herbert Garnett

On the 9th August 1893, at Woolacombe, a boy of 15, son of Mr M. Reynolds of Bristol, was carried 4500 yards out to sea while swimming from a bathing machine. The man in charge of the machine tried to reach the boy with a rope, but was thrown back by the waves and undercurrent. Mr Garnett left his wife and family on the beach, swam out to the exhausted boy and, with great difficulty, brought him ashore. Mr Reynolds said he had saved two lives, for had been about to try to save his son, but feared he would not have returned had he gone.

Award: Bronze Medal (Case number 26677)

Frederick Garnett served for many years in the London Scottish before joining the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, on the 2nd May 1900, with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. In 1908 this became the 8th Battalion (Territorial Force) Worcestershire Regiment and Captain Garnett served with it till 1910. When First World War broke out in 1914 he rejoined and volunteered for overseas' service, but instead he was appointed in 1915 to command the 3/8th (Reserve) Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, which he did till September 1916, after which he was Commandant of a POW camp.

His RHS Bronze Medal is in the Worcestershire Regimental Museum, donated by his daughter.


Lieutenant Frederick St. George Tucker, Worcestershire Regiment

On the 16th June 1908, a canoe with a native soldier on board sank while crossing the River at Port Lokko, Sierra Leone. The river is deep, 80 yards wide, and much infested with crocodiles. Lieutenant Tucker and Private Badrali (West African Frontier Force) swam across, and between them saved the man.

Award: Bronze Medal (Case number 36054)

Frederick St. George Tucker was commissioned in to the Worcestershire Regiment on the 18th January 1902 as a 2nd Lieutenant. Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on the 11th June 1904. On the 28th June 1907 he was seconded to the West African Regiment. On the 1st April 1912 he was restored to the establishment. Promoted to the rank of Captain on the 22nd June 1912. On the 13th April 1913 he joined the Royal Flying Corps for a year. He rejoined the Worcestershire Regiment on the 13th April 1914. He was promoted to the rank of Temporary Major on the 3rd June 1915 and joined the newly formed 10th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. He landed with the 10th Battalion at Boulogne, France on the night of the 18/19th July 1915. He was Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette 15/06/1916). He was killed in action on the 3rd July 1916 during the storming of La Boisselle (Private F. G. Turrall won his Victoria Cross, the same day, during this action).



Bandsman William Henry, 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

On the 20th December 1908, he rescued Lance Corporal Bundock from a water tank at Ahmednagar, India.

Award: Testimonial on Vellum

It seems likely that this recipient was the Sergeant William Henry (8843). Landed in France on the 12th August 1914 with the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. Hw was awarded the Military Medal in 1916 (London Gazette 11/10/1916). He was later discharged and awarded the Silver War Badge.



Private George Pate, 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

On 23rd November 1909, be rescued a man from a water tank at Ahmednagar.

Award: testimonial on Vellum

It seems likely that this was Private George W. Pate (8073) who served with the 3rd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment in WW1. He landed in France on the 12th August 1914. He was later promoted to Sergeant (given new number 263135). He survived the war.



Private Harry R. Wilks, 8th Battalion (TF) Worcestershire Regiment

On the 19th June 1910, he rescued a boy from the Avon at Pershore.

Award: Testimonial on Vellum

(It is most unlikely that Sergeant Harry Wilks, MM, killed with the 3rd Battalion in 1916, was the same man).



Sergeant Peter Malone, 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

At 6.50 am on 23 October, 1913, three men of the Battalion got into difficulty while bathing in the sea at Chatby, near Alexandria, Egypt. Sergeant Malone went in and managed to save two men, but the third was drowned.

Award: Bronze Medal (Case number 40588)

CSM Peter Malone of the 1st Battalion (who must have been the same man) died on 13 March, 1915, presumably of wounds received in the previous day or two in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. He had been born in Manchester and enlisted in Birmingham, having come from Newport, IOW.



Private Arthur Stone, Worcester Regt.

On the 24th May 1915, Private Thomas McHugh fell into a reservoir at Dearnley. Stone, who could only use one hand, went in and rescued him.

Award: Bronze Medal (Case number 41689)



Lieutenant Challis W.R. Francis, ASC attached to the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

On the 21st November 1918, a youth fell into the sea from the end of Harwich pier. There was wash from passing destroyers, but Lieut Francis jumped in, caught the youth and with help got him on to the pier.

Award: Testimonial on Vellum

Lieutenant Francis was commissioned in the Army Service Corps on 5th July 1915, became a Temporary Lieut. on 21st July 1916, and on 4th August 1917 was attached to the Worcestershire Regiment. On 23rd April 1918 he was one of a draft of 11 officers joining the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, just after the serious fighting at Neuve Eglise. He was presumably going on or returning from leave at the time of the rescue, unless he had been posted to the 5th or 6th Battalion, both units being then in the Harwich area.



Private A. Miles (5248062), 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

On the afternoon of 31 July 1931, Lance Corporal B. Cawston, aged 21, of the 2nd Battalion was trying to swim the shallow end of St George's Bay, Malta, when he hit deeper water and got into difficulties. Private Miles swam out to him, a distance of about 100 yards: he had problems with Lance Corporal Cawston who was struggling, but then the latter lost consciousness and Private Miles managed to get him to the shore.

The Brigadier commanding the troops in Malta also wished to record his appreciation of Lance Corporal F. Phillips (5246799), who rendered valuable assistance in getting Private Cawston ashore and applied first-aid skilfully and effectively.

Award: Testimonial on Vellum



Private Ronald J. Gannon (5257548)

Drummer T. Woodward (5245924)

Pte O. Smith (5245665)

1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

On the afternoon of 15th August 1931, a Mr T. Morgan, aged 21, from Plymouth, was bathing with a friend in a heavy sea at Tregantle, when he was swept away. The friend swam ashore for help. There was a strong south-west wind, the sea was very rough and Morgan was about 50 yards out in some 15 - 20 feet of water. Nevertheless, Private Gannon (age 20) attempted a rescue, but, unfortunately, he was drowned. Drummer Woodward (age 22) had followed Private Gannon and reached Morgan, but he was already being helped by Corporal Gratwicke (Royal Signals) and Mr G. Baker (evidently a civilian), who got him ashore. Meanwhile, Pte O. Smith (age 27), one of the Battalion's Regimental Police, went in and searched for Private Gannon until he was exhausted. In fact, the body of Private Gannon was not recovered until three days later and, at the request of his widowed mother, the burial took place in his home town of Farnborough. 'Ginger' Gannon had been a popular member of the Drums, in which his brother was also serving (or was within a few weeks if not at the time).

Awards: Drummer R.J. Gannon - In Memoriam Bronze Medal

Private O. Smith - Testimonial on Vellum (Also awarded to Corporal Cratwicke and Mr Baker);

Drummer T Woodward - Testimonial on Parchment.


Major G. G. H. Peace, MBE, 2nd Battalion

On the afternoon of 20th July 1944 several people were bathing at Mount Lavinia, Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), when two soldiers got into difficulties and could not return to shore. There was a strong wind, the sea was rough with surf and breakers and there was a treacherously strong undertow as the tide flowed back. Major Peace and Captain V. L. H. Wemyss, of the Indian Army, swam out some 400 - 500 yards and succeeded in bringing back the two men, who were both unconscious. Both rescuers were exhausted, but others were seen to be in difficulties, where- upon the two officers obtained a rope, swam out and effected their rescue, one of those saved by Major Peace being a WREN. The two gallant rescuers then retired for some well-earned refreshment, but, almost unbelievably, while they were away some other bathers got into difficulties off the same beach and drowned.

Award: Testimonial on Vellum to each officer

At the time of the rescue described above he was not serving with the Regiment, but with Force 136 the Far East Resistance Group.

Major G. G. H. Peace

Major G. G. H. Peace


Cadet Donald W. Wellings, 1st Cadet Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

About 9.30 am on 2nd March 1947, Irene Crumpton, aged 12, fell through the ice in the middle of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal at Kidderminster. The canal was 18 to 20 feet wide and 5 feet deep and the water was freezing cold (that being a memorably severe winter). Cadet Wellings, aged 16, from Clensmore, Kidderminster, saw the accident, jumped from the bridge to the towpath, crossed the ice and, fully clad, jumped into the water. He reached the girl and brought her to safety.

Award: Testimonial on Parchment



Private Neil Muir Taylor, Worcestershire Regiment

At 8.30 pm on 30 May 1952, Reginald John Dunn, aged 16, was wheeling his bicycle along the narrow path by the River Severn at Worcester when he slipped and fell in. The river was 40 yards wide and 15 feet deep at that point, with a current of two knots. Pte Taylor jumped in fully clothed, swam to the boy who was about five yards out and brought him in.

Award: Testimonial on Parchment

It has not been possible to establish Pte Taylor's unit, but it is likely that he was at the Depot at Norton Barracks.

RHS Medal details

Additional Information

Further details about the Royal Humane Society may be obtained from their website at: