I came across the following citation for an Order of St. John Lifesaving Medal, presented to Sgt. Arthur Patrick McNally of 7 Bttn. Midx. Rgt. 1931.
It recites a tragic incident but I thought it worth sharing, both to recomemorate the act and to remind us how much safer we all are today.
At about 9:00 p.m. on 19 March 1931 a fire occurred in the upper storey of No. 25, Nightingale Lane, Hornsey, N8, opposite the parade ground of the 7th Battalion Middlesex Regiment (Territorial Army). Sergeant A. P. McNally, on seeing the flames through the window of the building, scaled a waterpipe and entered the room, where a six month old child was lying in a cot at the far side of the room. He made an effort to reach the cot, and succeeded in dragging it partly across the room, but had to give up the attempt owing to violent flames and heavy smoke. He then made a second attempt and succeeded in pulling the child to the window, but by this time the child was a mass of flames, and it was not possible for Sergeant McNally to pick him up.
As a result of his efforts Sergeant McNally received several cuts and minor burns. He acted with great courage and at great personal risk. The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief desires to record his appreciation of this act of gallantry and directs that it be entered on the N.C.O.’s regimental conduct sheet.’
(The Die Hards, the Regimental Journal of the Middlesex Regiment, May 1931 refers).
A brave attempt. There was an article recently on a BBC website discussing why it is the first instinct of some to rush forward while others hold back. It is something that is decided in a second without any thought. No time to consider the outcome.
Hats off to this man. Such an heroic action. And I bet he was haunted by the happenings of that night for the rest of his days.