Archived Lot

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Date of Auction: 20th October 1993

Sold for £2,000

Estimate: £1,500 - £1,800

The unique George Medal group awarded to A.J.A. 'Tony' Rivers, Lampman, British Rail, Western Region

GEORGE MEDAL, E.lI.R., 2nd issue (Anthony James Arthur Rivers) contained in its Royal Mint case of issue; BOY SCOUT'S ASSOCIATION, GILT CROSS FOR GALLANTRY, reverse engraved (T. Rivers, 15.5.51); CARNEGIE HERO FUND, bronze medal, inscribed on the edge (Anthony J.A. Rivers, Netherton, Worcs. 7th October 1954) contained in its case of issue; DAILY HERALD, ORDER OF INDUSTRIAL HEROISM (Anthony J.A. Rivers, 30th June 1955) contained in its case of issue, generally good very fine


G.M., London Gazette, 17 May 1955. 'Rivers was carrying our his duties at Cradley Heath and Cradley Passenger Station when he heard unusual sounds to the rear of a passenger train. Upon investigation he found a woman on the line close to the level crossing struggling to release her right foot which had become wedged between the stock rail and check rail on the main line. Rivers endeavoured to release her foot, but without success, and seeing a train nearing the Station on the mainline, he lifted the woman as far as he could away from the track and took a penknife from his pocket with the intention of cutting her shoe loose but before he was able to do this the train was upon them. He had the presence of mind to realise that to save the woman's life it would be necessary to sacrifice her foot, and he held her by the shoulders as far away from the line as possible as the train rushed by. The woman's right leg was severed below the knee and Rivers sustained a fractured pelvis and injury to his right knee and multiple bruises and abrasions. Rivers without hesitation took what action he could to save the woman's life and knowingly accepted serious risk of personal injury. There is little doubt that if the woman had remained in her original position she would have been killed'.

Anthony James Arthur Rivers, G.M., first distinguished himself at the tender age of twelve, when, on 15 May 1950, in his home town of Nerherton, near Dudley, Worcester, he stopped a runaway horse at considerable personal risk. Cycling after the horse, which had dashed off pulling a baker's van, young Rivers caught the reins and seized the frightened beast's mane, eventually bringing it to a halt. Honoured by the Borough of Dudley, Rivers was also awarded the Gilt Bravery Cross of the Boy Scout's Association. After leaving school, he joined British Rail, Western Region, as a Junior Porter at Cradley Heath and Cradley Passenger Station. Advanced to the post of Senior Porter, Rivers next applied for the job of Lampman. Normally reserved for older employees, he was fortunate to secure the position while still aged seventeen. It was soon afterwards, on 7 October 1954, that the George Medal incident occurred. In addition, Rivers was awarded the Daily Herald Order of Industrial Heroism and Carnegie Hero Fund Bronze Medallion. Mrs. Rowlands, the elderly lady whom he had saved from certain death, presented him with a cheque for £100 and a suitably inscribed silver cigarette case. 'Tony' Rivers spent the best part of four months in hospital, suffering, in addition to those injuries specified in the above citation, a fractured right forearm, while a piece of steel from the rails had pierced his right thigh. He returned to 'light duties' at British Rail following a further period of convalescence.