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Royal Humane Society Medal

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Life Saving medals have always been collected and over the years many Societies have been

formed to to honour civilian courage in the face of great danger. Some of the private foundations have gone,

however there are others which have existed for over two hundred years.

One of the premier societies is the Royal Humane Society. They were formed in 1774 and to receive one of their

medals is a great honour.

The original format of their medals was changed in 1869 - the medals were made smaller, more the present day size of

a medal. They also marked the medals with different wording on the reverse - this was to acknowledge great bravery, even if un-succesful ; the other version marked bravery which resulted in the saving of life.

The entries are on the reverse of the medal and in English would read -

The Royal Humane Society presented this gift. His life having been exposed to danger.

The succesful woprding would read -

The Royal Humane Society presented this gift for saving life.

He was a Durban resident - Gert Johannes Schmidt - and won the award on 3rd. November 1951. He was a professional

fisherman and was out of sea. Someone fell of a passing ship and he dived in - fully clothed , to save the man's life.

The first medal is the Africa Medal - in silver, which was presented to mark war service. He was a member of the

Active Citizen Force - formed in 1913 from the old Provincial Militarias. I understand that as a professional fisherman

he was in a reserved occupation - but, would have been called-up if required.

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Very nice indeed.

I think the Royal Humane Society awards are some of the most under priced awards in the medal collecting field. These are gallantry awards in every sense of the word and in some cases the level of gallantry is truly amazing with the recipient putting his life on the line to save the life of a fellow or fellow human beings. To me these are every bit as amazing as bravery in the field awards and were the actions performed under battlefield conditions many would have earned high level gallantry awards.

Thank you for sharing with us.


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  • 1 year later...


Just joined the GMIC this evening. My first post:

I have a RHS Bronze Medal (Small, successful) with papers from the RHS confirming the award to one Donald Simpson,

(Case No. 47340) a schoolboy, 15 years of age, who, on 3 February 1924, at 5.15pm at Vereeniging, Transvaal (Vaal River)

rescued May Clark, 14 years, and May Lawrence, 10 years. The RHS Record reads: "The girls were bathing in the River and could

not regain the bank, owing to the strong stream. The younger dragged the other down. 20 yards out and 30 feet deep. Simpson

went in fully clad, and succeded in bringing the girls out". Awarded Bronze, Successful, on 1 August 1924.

I also have Simpson's WWII medals, and his WWII papers. His 'Record of Service Card' states, on 13 October 1944, that:

"Granted Authority to wear the 'Royal Humane Society Ribbon of the Bronze Medal' "

No 126452V T/Cpl Donald Mercer SIMPSON, 1st Transvaal Scottish. Group Consists of:

1939-45 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; The War Medal 1939-1945; Africa Service Medal; RHS Bronze Medal (1924)


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