Hilliard R – 1921

BB Gazette Vol.30 No.5 -The Brigade Executive have awarded the Cross for Heroism To Private Robert Hilliard, aged 13½, 17th Nottingham (Beeston) Company, for his gallantry in rescuing a little girl from drowning on 19th August, 1921.

Private Hilliard was walking with a chum along the banks of the Beeston Canal when he noticed the figure of a little girl floating towards the middle of the canal. Hilliard had learned to swim only a few weeks previously, and without stopping to undress he jumped into the canal and swam out to the girl. He had considerable trouble owing to the child’s struggles, but eventually brought her to the bank and applied first aid, which he had learned in his Company Ambulance Class. Artificial respiration having been successful, Hilliard took the little girl to her home, and in a few days she had completely recovered. The Beeston Urban District Council have presented Private Hilliard with an address bearing the Council’s seal, and the B.B. Cross for Heroism was presented by His Worship the Mayor of Nottingham on Sunday afternoon, 27th November, in the Market Place of Nottingham, after the Battalion Church Parade.

This is the second Cross for Heroism which has been won by a member of this Company.

Gazette and Echo, 3rd December 1924 – There was a big crowd present in the Nottingham Market Place last Sunday, along with practically the whole force of the Nottingham Battalion of The Boys’ Brigade to do the honour to Pte. Robert Hilliard… for the heroism he showed on August 19, when, though he had learned to swim only a fortnight previously, he jumped into deep water near the canal bridge at Beeston and rescued a little 2½ year old child just as she was sinking for the third time.

Pte. Hilliard’s act was the more heroic because of the struggle he had owing to the little one making continued clutches at an Army mess tin which she carried. After the rescue he successfully applied artificial respiration, and while he dried the child with one of his own garments he sent another boy for dry clothing, and eventually restored her to her parents little the worse for the experience.

The proceedings began with a church parade. The companies of the different districts assembled on their respective parade grounds…. After the services the whole battalion, numbering 1500 strong and headed by their own combined band marched to the Market place, where the Mayor (Mr F Berryman) to the salute prior to presenting Pte. Hilliard with the Brigade Cross for Heroism.

Boys Brigade Cross for Heroism

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This account has been complied using records held in The Boys’ Brigade Archive Collection, local and national newspaper archives and other sources. If there are any omissions or errors we sincerely apologise, and request that you come forward with this information, so that this can be corrected.


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