A fine Collection of Life Saving Awards

Date of Auction: 12th December 2012

Sold for £550

Estimate: £350 - £400

A Sea Gallantry Medal awarded to Thomas Watkins, Third Mate of the S.S. Devonshire, for courageously saving life from the S.S. Hughenden in the Bay of Biscay, 21 December 1911

Sea Gallantry Medal, G.V.R., silver (Thomas Watkins, “Hughenden” 21st December 1911) in fitted case of issue, extremely fine £350-400


The Hughenden, a steel screw steamer of 3,097 gross tonnage, was built in 1900 and owned in Sunderland, was carrying barley from Smyrna to Dublin. On 21 September 1911, during a hurricane in the Bay of Biscay, she became unmanageable owing to accidents to her steering gear. The Devonshire approached as near as was prudent and stood by. During a squall the Hughenden heeled over and sank. The Devonshire manoeuvred amongst the wreckage and rescued two men who were afloat on hatch covers. One of them caught a line, but the other was too faint to do so and was saved by Mr Watkins, who jumped overboard in the mountainous sea and made the line fast to him. In the state of the sea it was considered no boat could be launched. Twenty-five lives were lost, only two: those of Brandt and Macneill were saved. (ref. derived from The Sea Gallantry Medal, by R. J. Scarlett).

The medal was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 19 April 1913. With copied research.