The River and Rowing Museum has recently acquired a medal awarded for bravery that sheds a little light on a small but important piece of Thames history.
In 1911 Iffley lockkeeper Percy Mellon was awarded the Albert Medal for bravery by King George V in the presence of Winston Churchill.
On a dark February night Mellon was informed that a woman had fallen from her bicycle into the river. With water running cold and fast and being driven by a strong wind he leapt into the water when he spotted an apparently lifeless body being swept towards an open weir. Displaying the gallantry for which he was honoured and with the help of his son and wife he brought the woman to the bank.
The medal and the original citation with accompanying press cuttings have recently been loaned to the River & Rowing Museum in Henley on Thames by his granddaughter.
The Albert Medal was introduced in 1866 as a civilian decoration recognising acts of lifesaving. It was discontinued in 1971, replaced by the George Cross.
Mike Rowe, Senior Curator at the Museum commented: "We are extremly pleased to have the medal, it is a wonderful story that recognises the heroism displayed by many of the characters in the riverside community."
The medal was only recently discovered by Mellon's granddaughter. On loaning the medal to the museum she commented, "Though I never met my grandparents I had heard the story from my father who assisted with the rescue."
The museum is now undertaking research into Percy Mellon's life and will be putting the medal on display in 2006.