Albert Medal for Lifesaving

The Albert Medal for Lifesaving was a British medal awarded to recognize the saving of life. It has since been replaced by the George Cross.

The Albert Medal was first instituted by a Royal Warrant on 7 March 1866 and discontinued in 1971 with the last two awards promulgated in the London Gazette of 31 March 1970 to the late First Officer Geoffrey Clifford Bye of Boolaroo, New South Wales, Australia, and on 11 August 1970 to the late Kenneth Owen McIntyre of Fairy Meadow, New South Wales, Australia. The medal was named in memory of Prince Albert and originally was awarded to recognize saving life at sea. The original medal had a blue ribbon 58" (16 mm) wide with two white stripes. A further Royal Warrant in 1867 created two classes of Albert Medal, the first in gold and bronze and the second in bronze, both enamelled in blue, and the ribbon of the first class changed to 1 38" (35 mm) wide with four white stripes.

The first recipient of the medal was Samuel Popplestone, a tenant farmer, who on 23 March 1866 helped to rescue four men after the cargo ship Spirit of the Ocean lost its battle with force eleven gales and was torn apart as it was swept onto the notorious Start Point rocks in Devon.[1] Witnessing the accident, Popplestone paused only to raise the alarm before setting off alone for the wreck, armed with just a small coil of rope. He clambered out onto the rocks and although swept off several times, he eventually managed to lift four men out of the water and drag them up the cliff to safety. As the story of Popplestone's bravery became known through the press, he was hailed as a hero and as a result of his heroism he became the first recipient of the brand new award for civilian gallantry.

In 1877, the medal was extended to cover saving life on land and from this point there are two medals with different inscriptions to depict which they were awarded for. The land version was enamelled in red, with a red ribbon. The titles of the medals changed in 1917, the gold "Albert Medal, first class" becoming the "Albert Medal in gold" and the bronze "Albert Medal, second class" being known as just the "Albert Medal".

The event that led to the introduction of the Albert Medal for Gallantry on Land was the Tynewydd Colliery disaster which occurred on 11 April 1877.[2] In many ways, although it was tragic the disaster at Tynewydd was, by the standards of the time when single mining accidents often claimed hundreds of lives, relatively unremarkable. However, as the enthralling saga of the determined, dangerous and stoic rescue of the surviving colliers was dramatically and episodically reported in the press it captured the imagination of the public and MPs. Consequently, released from Windsor Castle on 25 April 1877, it was announced that "the Albert Medal, hitherto only bestowed for gallantry in saving life at sea, shall be extended for similar actions on land, and that the first medals struck for this purpose shall be conferred on the heroic rescuers of the Welsh miners".[3]

In 1911, second class honors were awarded to an Indigenous Australian prisoner.[4][5]

HMS Ramillies Memorial
Memorial plaque commemorating Lieutenant Turner, Royal Marines, who received the posthumous award of the Albert Medal after, without hesitation, diving overboard to the assistance of Sergeant G E Young on 2 March 1939. Both lost their lives in a very rough sea.

The Albert Medal in gold was abolished in 1949, being replaced by the George Cross, and the second class of Albert Medal (in bronze) was only awarded posthumously. In 1971, the Albert Medal was discontinued (along with the Edward Medal) and all living recipients were invited to exchange the award for the George Cross. From the total of 64 eligible to exchange, 49 took up the option.

The medal was made of gold (although early examples are gold and bronze), which was enameled blue. Miniatures of all four types are known to exist, with the gold awards believed to be gilt.

Albert Medal
De Albert Medaille met batons VK
Both versions of the Albert Medal
Awarded by United Kingdom and some British Empire/Commonwealth countries
TypeCivil decoration
EligibilityUnited Kingdom and British Empire/Commonwealth personnel
Awarded forSaving a life
StatusReplaced by the George Cross in 1971
Established7 March 1866
Total awardedGold award (sea) 25
Bronze award (sea) 216
Gold medal (land) 45
Bronze award (land) 282
EquivalentGeorge Cross
UK Albert Medal 1st class (Land)

Albert Medal 1st Class (Land)
UK Albert Medal 1st class (Sea)

Albert Medal 1st Class (Sea)
UK Albert Medal 2nd class (Land)

Albert Medal 2nd Class (Land)
UK Albert Medal 2nd class (Sea)

Albert Medal 2nd Class (Sea)

Awards made

Gold award (sea) 25 (plus one for the Board of Trade)
Bronze award (sea) 216
Gold medal (land) 45
Bronze award (land) 282[6]


  1. ^ John Price, Everyday Heroism: Victorian Constructions of the Heroic Civilian (Bloomsbury: London, 2014) ISBN 978-1-4411066-5-0, p. 31
  2. ^ John Price, Everyday Heroism: Victorian Constructions of the Heroic Civilian (Bloomsbury: London, 2014) ISBN 978-1-4411066-5-0, pp. 17–18
  3. ^ The Leeds Mercury, 25 April 1877
  4. ^ "THE ROPER RIVER". The Evening Star. 15, (4356). Western Australia. 8 May 1912. p. 3. Retrieved 8 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "AN ABORIGINAL S BRAVERY". The Evening Star. 13, (3996). Western Australia. 8 March 1911. p. 3. Retrieved 8 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ P. E. Abbott and J. M. A. Tamplin. British Gallantry Awards, Nimrod Dix & Co, 1981, ISBN 0 902633 74 0, Chapter 4, p. 22

External links

Abercarn colliery disaster

The Abercarn colliery disaster was a catastrophic explosion within the Prince of Wales Colliery in the Welsh village of Abercarn (then in the county of Monmouthshire), on 11 September 1878, killing 268 men and boys (though an exact number of casualties remains unknown). The cause was assumed to have been the ignition of firedamp by a safety lamp. The disaster is the third worst for loss of life to occur within the South Wales Coalfield.

Albert Medal

Albert Medal may refer to:

Albert Medal for Lifesaving, awarded for lifesaving

Albert Medal (Royal Society of Arts), awarded by the Royal Society of Arts


Ayaiga also known as Ayaigar, Aya-I-Ga, Neighbour or Nipper (c.1882 - 21 June 1954) was a police tracker and stockman in the Northern Territory of Australia. He is the first Indigenous Australian to win a medal for gallantry, for saving a policeman from drowning.

Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross Society (French: Croix-Rouge canadienne) is a Canadian humanitarian charitable organization, and one of 190 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. The organization receives funding from both private donations and from Canadian government departments.The Red Cross Society trains volunteers in emergency response, disaster response, and disaster assistance, and provides injury prevention services such as outdoor activities safety and first aid training. The society, through the international network of the Red Cross, helps the world's vulnerable populations, including victims of armed conflicts and communities destroyed by disasters. Canadian Red Cross staff and volunteers are guided by the seven fundamental principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality. The current Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Red Cross is Conrad Sauvé.

HMNZS Achilles (70)

HMNZS Achilles was a Leander-class light cruiser which served with the Royal New Zealand Navy in the Second World War, the second of five in the class. Originally constructed by the Royal Navy, she was loaned to New Zealand in 1936 before formally joining the new Royal New Zealand Navy in 1941. She became famous for her part in the Battle of the River Plate, alongside HMS Ajax and HMS Exeter and notable for being the first Royal Navy cruiser to have fire control radar, with the installation of the New Zealand-made SS1 fire-control radar in June 1940.After Second World War service in the Atlantic and Pacific, she was returned to the Royal Navy. She was sold to the Indian Navy in 1948 and recommissioned as INS Delhi. She was scrapped in 1978.

HMS Engadine (1911)

HMS Engadine was a seaplane tender which served in the Royal Navy (RN) during the First World War. Converted from the cross-Channel packet ship SS Engadine, she was initially fitted with temporary hangars for three seaplanes for aerial reconnaissance and bombing missions in the North Sea. She participated in the Cuxhaven Raid in late 1914 before she began a more thorough conversion in 1915 that increased her capacity to four aircraft. Engadine was transferred to the Battle Cruiser Fleet in late 1915 and participated in the Battle of Jutland in 1916 when one of her aircraft flew the first heavier-than-air reconnaissance mission during a naval battle. She was transferred to the Mediterranean in 1918.

She was sold back to her original owners in 1919 and resumed her prewar role. Engadine was sold in 1933 to a Philippine company and renamed SS Corregidor. She was sunk with heavy loss of life by a mine in December 1941 during the invasion of the Philippines at the beginning of the Pacific War.

International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation

The International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) was formed in 1992 to provide an opportunity for the major organizations in resuscitation to work together on CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and ECC (Emergency Cardiovascular Care) protocols. The name was chosen in 1996 to be a deliberate play on words relating to the treatment of sick hearts – "ill cor" (cor is Latin for heart).

ILCOR is composed of the American Heart Association (AHA), the European Resuscitation Council (ERC), the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC), the Australian and New Zealand Committee on Resuscitation, the Resuscitation Councils of Southern Africa (RCSA), the Resuscitation Councils of Asia (RCA) and the Inter American Heart Foundation (IAHF).

Life-saving appliances

Life-saving appliances are those appliances that protect human life at sea. The devices are documented as part of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, or SOLAS Convention.

List of Indigenous Australian historical figures

Some Indigenous Australians are remembered in history for leadership prior to European colonisation, some for their resistance to that colonisation, others for assisting Europeans explore the country. Some became infamous for their deeds, and others noted as the last of their communities.

List of living recipients of the George Cross

As of 2017, there are 18 living recipients of the George Cross, including two former recipients of the Albert Medal for Lifesaving and one former recipient of the Edward Medal, who voluntarily exchanged their medals for the George Cross in 1971 when it replaced both.

The George Cross (GC) is the highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom and other member states of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is the highest gallantry award for civilians of any rank or profession, and is primarily intended to be a civil award. Military personnel may be awarded the George Cross for actions not in the face of the enemy or for actions not normally meriting a purely military award. The George Cross was officially constituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI as a way to recognise civilian courage. It recognises "acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger".Initially, the Empire Gallantry Medal recognised acts of the highest bravery. The George Cross succeeded the Empire Gallantry Medal and all those living that had been awarded the medal, and all posthumous awards from the outbreak of World War II, were obliged to exchange their medal for the George Cross. In 1971, the living recipients of the Albert Medal and Edward Medal were invited to exchange their medals for the George Cross; 24 recipients elected not to exchange their medal.

In recent years, the George Cross has often served as the highest-level military decoration for recognition of peacetime heroism, or for wartime actions of gallantry not in the face of the enemy. Prior to 2017, when Dominic Troulan received the decoration for heroism during a 2013 terrorist attack at the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya, no civilian awards of the GC had been made since 1978, when it was awarded to Victoria Police constable Michael Pratt. Previously, the last civilian award in the UK to a living recipient had been to Metropolitan Police inspector Jim Beaton in 1974 for his efforts in protecting Anne, Princess Royal from a mentally ill man attempting to kidnap her.

Certain Commonwealth realms have replaced the GC with their own equivalent awards. The Cross of Valour has been awarded to Canadian citizens since its establishment in 1972, and the identically named Cross of Valour has been awarded to Australian citizens since 1975. Both allow the wearer to use the postnominal letters CV. Since 1999, the New Zealand Cross has been awarded to New Zealand citizens, which allows the wearer the postnominal NZC. Awards of the George Cross made prior to the establishment of their replacements in each nation are not exchanged.

Until 26 January 1950, when India became a republic within the Commonwealth, the George Cross and its precursors were awarded to Indian civilians and military personnel in the government and princely states forces. All British awards were discontinued after 26 January 1950. In 1952, the Ashoka Chakra replaced the George Cross.

Newport, Wales

Newport (Welsh: Casnewydd; [kasˈnɛwɨð]) is a city and unitary authority area in south east Wales, on the River Usk close to its confluence with the Severn Estuary, 12 miles (19 km) northeast of Cardiff. At the 2011 census, it was the third largest city in Wales, with a population of 145,700. The city forms part of the Cardiff-Newport metropolitan area, with a population of 1,097,000.

Newport has been a port since medieval times, when the first Newport Castle was built by the Normans. The town outgrew the earlier Roman town of Caerleon, immediately upstream, and gained its first charter in 1314. It grew significantly in the 19th century, when its port became the focus of coal exports from the eastern South Wales Valleys. Until the rise of Cardiff from the 1850s, Newport was Wales' largest coal-exporting port. Newport was the site of the last large-scale armed insurrection in Britain, the Newport Rising of 1839 led by the Chartists.

In the 20th century, the docks declined in importance, but Newport remained an important manufacturing and engineering centre. It was granted city status in 2002. Newport hosted the Ryder Cup in 2010 and was the venue for the 2014 NATO summit.

Oliver Bryson

Oliver Campbell Bryson (18 August 1896 – 27 March 1977) was a career Royal Air Force officer who served in both World Wars. He was a flying ace credited with 12 aerial victories during the First World War.

Robert Archibald James Montgomerie

Rear-Admiral Robert Archibald James Montgomerie, (11 September 1855 – 1 September 1908) was a British Royal Navy officer, who received the Albert Medal for Lifesaving.

Royal Life Saving Society UK

The Royal Life Saving Society UK is a drowning prevention charity founded in 1891 in the UK. It has had Royal Patronage since 1904.

SS Jebba

SS Jebba was a steam ship that ran aground near Bolt Tail, off the coast of Devon, in 1907. Built by Sir Raylton Dixon & Company, Middlesbrough, she was launched in 1896 as the SS Albertville for the Cie. Belge-Maritime du Congo, Antwerp. They sold her in 1898 to the African Steamship Company, London, who renamed her Jebba.On 18 March 1907 she ran aground near Bolt Tail, while inbound from West Africa for Plymouth and Liverpool with a cargo of ivory, rubber, palm oil, pineapples, bananas and the mail from Nigeria and the Gold Coast. Her 76 crew and 79 passengers were taken off by bosun's chair, with the two fishermen who had organised the rescue, Isaac Jarvis and John Argeat, being awarded the Albert Medal for Lifesaving. The cargo was salvaged after her loss, with the mail she was carrying later the subject of philatelic study.

The Hong Kong Life Saving Society

The Life Saving Society of Hong Kong is the life saving society in Hong Kong.

Tom Crean (explorer)

Thomas Crean (20 July 1877 – 27 July 1938) was an Irish seaman and Antarctic explorer who was awarded the Albert Medal for Lifesaving.

Tom Crean was a member of three major expeditions to Antarctica during what is known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, including Robert Falcon Scott's 1911–13 Terra Nova Expedition. This saw the race to reach the South Pole lost to Roald Amundsen and ended in the deaths of Scott and his polar party. During this expedition, Crean's 35 statute miles (56 km) solo walk across the Ross Ice Shelf to save the life of Edward Evans led to him receiving the Albert Medal.

Crean had left the family farm near Annascaul to enlist in the Royal Navy at age 15 but he lied about his own age as he had to be 16. In 1901, while serving on Ringarooma in New Zealand, he volunteered to join Scott's 1901–04 Discovery Expedition to Antarctica, thus beginning his exploring career.

After his experience on the Terra Nova, Crean's third and final Antarctic venture was as second officer on Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. After the ship Endurance became beset in the pack ice and sank, Crean and the ship's company spent 492 days drifting on the ice before a journey in boats to Elephant Island. He was a member of the crew which made a small boat journey of 800 nautical miles (1,500 km) from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island, to seek aid for the stranded party.

W. F. Harvey

William Fryer Harvey AM (14 April 1885 – 4 June 1937), known as W. F. Harvey, was an English writer of short stories, most notably in the macabre and horror genres. Among his best-known stories are "August Heat" and "The Beast with Five Fingers", described by horror historian Les Daniels as "minor masterpieces".

William Galbraith (British Army officer)

Major-General Sir William Galbraith (14 May 1837 – 15 October 1906) was a British Army officer who served as Adjutant-General in India.

Royal family
Orders of chivalry
Civil bravery
Nursing service
Meritorious service


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