British Military & Criminal History:
1900 to 1999.
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Until the British Government introduced gallantry awards for saving life, it was left to private individuals and organisations to reward those people who had risked their life to save other people.
One such organisation that was established is the Royal Humane Society.
An excellent source of information for those people interesting life saving awards is The Life Saving Awards Research Society, whose web site is well worth visiting.
Royal Humane Society Medal
The Royal Humane Society was formed in 1774 for the purpose of diffusing knowledge about the techniques of resuscitation and other techniques for saving drowned people. This aim was later modified to include "... all cases of exceptional bravery in rescuing or attempting to rescue persons from asphyxia in mines, wells, blasting furnaces or in sewers where foul air may endanger life". The Society medals were struck in gold, silver and bronze.
After permission was granted to wear the medals in 1869, the size of the medal was reduced from 51 millimetres to 38 millimetres in diameter. The following table summarises the changes to the medals.
In 1921 the ribbon for the silver medal had a thin yellow stripe in the middle and white edges added to the existing navy blue ribbon.
The obverse side of the medal contains a cherub, wearing a flowing cloak, blowing on a extinguished torch. Around the top half of the side is the Latin text "Lateat Scintillvla Forsan" (perhaps a tiny spark may be concealed). At the bottom of the obverse face is a 3-line Latin text "Soc. Lond. In Resuscitat Intermortuorum Instit" with the date in Roman numerals.
The reverse side of the medal has an oak wreath containing the engraved details of the recipient and the date of the life-saving act. Round the reverse side is the Latin text "Hoc Pretivm Cive Servato Tvlit" (He has obtained this reward for saving the life of a citizen). If the rescue attempt was unsuccessful, the Latin inscription is not present on the reverse side.
In 1873 the Stanhope Gold Medal (named in memory of Captain C.S.S. Stanhope, RN) was introduced to recognise the person deemed to have performed the bravest act of life-saving during the year. The initial Stanhope Medals were similar to the Socitey's other medals, but since 1937 the Stanhope Medal has been identical in design to the other medals, differing in being struck in gold. However, in 1921 the ribbon for the Stanhope Medal was changed to navy blue with yellow and black edges.
The Bronze Medal to Emily White
Emily White was an 11 year old school girl residing at 1 London Road, Nottingham.
On 18 March 1883 Emily White and her 8 year old sister Charlotte were leaning against a garden fence when it gave way, throwing Charlotte White into the Nottingham Canal. The water, which was up to 6 feet deep, was described as being "... little better than a sewer ..." and "... in a most offensive state ...", but Emily placed the baby that she was holding on the ground and, at great risk to herself, jumped into the canal and successfully rescued her sister; who was up to her shoulders in filth.