Bednall W – 1912
BB Gazette Vol.20 No.8 -The Brigade Executive have awarded The Boys’ Brigade Cross for Heroism to Private William Bednall, aged 16, 5th Birmingham Company, for attempting to rescue a girl from drowning in the canal at Birmingham.
Though Bednall was not a very experienced swimmer, having only learnt to swim the previous year, and was handicapped by his heavy trousers and boots, he did not hesitate to dive into the canal and reach the drowning girl.
In a report from the Daily Mirror, Bednall described the event as follows:
“I called to a passing man for help, but he took no notice. The girl twisted round off my back, and then gripped hold of me by the right shoulder. Fortunately I was wearing a thin shirt, and this broke away, and I pushed her from me and rose to the surface”. She drew me under the water twice, and I felt quite exhausted, and despaired of getting out, but in the end I got to the bank”.
The girl’s body was recovered by means of a boat shaft.
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.