A Collection of Life Saving Awards formed by Dr Paul Démogé

Date of Auction: 6th December 2017

Sold for £650

Estimate: £300 - £400

Board of Trade Medal for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea, V.R., large, silver (George Sandwell Wreck of the “Druide” on the 19th November 1893.) edge bruise and minor edge nicks, good very fine £300-400


George Sandwell, a beachman from Margate, was one of six men who was awarded the Board of Trade’s silver medal for gallantry for rescuing the crew of the brigantine Druide (138 tons), of Cardiff, during a heavy gale on 19 November 1893.

‘On 19 October 1893 the coast of Kent was being battered by a gale from the N.N.E. In the heavy seas, the brigantine Druide of Cardiff, sailing from Cherbourg, became stranded off Margate. The regular coxswain of the R.N.L.I. lifeboat Quiver, John Fox, was ill, and the Second Coxswain, E. Emptage refused to go out on to the raging seas. The Hon. Secretary of the R.N.L.I. then placed the Quiver in charge of Bowman J. Knight, with lifeboatman H. Jones as crew. They put out into the bay but were repeatedly beaten back by the frightful seas and returned to the harbour. Another attempt was made but the boat became waterlogged and had to return again to the pierhead. It was then discovered, on inspection of the boat, that the Second Coxswain had allowed her to go to sea without having secured the deck plates. She was pumped dry, the valves shut and plates secured, and a third attempt made to reach the stricken Druide but she was unable to get away and in great difficulty anchored near the Nayland Rock. (Subsequently the District Inspector held an inquiry into the case and it was found that but for the gross neglect on the part of the Second Coxswain (E. Emptage), the Quiver would have been able to reach the Druide. Emptage was immediately suspended and later resigned his position). The Druide dragging on her anchors narrowly missed striking the jetty but grounded on the rocks opposite Fort Point. The Ramsgate lifeboat under tow from a steam tug now came on to the scene but was unable to approach the Druide as she was so close to land and so returned to Ramsgate. At about 10.30, Albert Emptage, master of the Moss Rose, one of Margate’s pleasure yachts, gathered some of the boatman about him and asked for volunteers to man the skiff from the Moss Rose and effect the rescue of the crew of the Druide. Five men quickly volunteered - Edward Whitehead, George Sandwell, John Cox, John Taylor and Arthur Twyman. The yacht’s skiff, a seaworthy 22 foot boat, was launched from the jetty amidst cheers from the hundreds of onlookers. Battling against wind, tide and surf, the boat slowly but surely made its way to the Druide. Receiving a line from the ship, they were able to haul themselves sufficiently close for the crew of five from the Druide to drop into the skiff. The skiff, bearing both rescuers and rescued then returned safely to shore to the cheers of the crowd.’

Sandwell was presented with his medal on 13 February 1894.