Lot Archive


№ 308


19 April 1995

Hammer Price:

A fine life saving group of six awarded to Lieutenant-Commander William T. Clifford, R.N.R., for his attempted rescue of Barney Barnato, the ‘Diamond King’ of South Africa
1914-15 Star (Lieut, R.N.R.); British War and Victory Medals (Lt. Commr., R.N.R.); Royal Naval Reserve Decoration, G.V.R.; Royal Humane Society, small silver medal (Unsuccessful), (14th June 1897) fitted with silver ribbon buckle; Lloyd’s Medal for Saving Life at Sea, silver (14 June 1897) extremely fine, the certificates all affected by damp and foxing (6)

The lot is accompanied by the following certificates and related items:
Vellum award certificate of the Royal Humane Society, dated 15th July, 1897; award certificate from the Corporation of Lloyd’s, signed by H.M.Hozier and dated 23rd June, 1897; a large illuminated address presented by the subscribers to the “African Review” fund and members of the Stock Exchange; an illuminated address from the Gentlemen passengers of the R.M.S. “Scot”, and signed by the same; an illuminated address from the Lady passengers, similarly signed; an ode regarding the incident written on the 19th June,1897, by David Hobbs; an 18 carat gold outer back panel only from a presentation pocket watch inscribed ‘Presented by S.B.Joel and the passengers of the R.M.S. “Scot” to W.T.Clifford, R.N.R., in recognition of the brave act of endeavouring to save the life of B.I.Barnato, 14th June , 1897.’
At 3.10 p.m. on the 14th June, 1897, while the Royal Mail Steamer Scot was on a voyage from the Cape to Southampton, a first-class passenger named Barnett Isaacs Barnato jumped overboard. Immediately the cry “Man overboard!” rang through the ship, and Mr William T. Clifford, fourth officer of the Scot, who was on deck at the time, at once ran to the rail and plunged in after him. Owing to the heavy sea running he found it impossible to reach the drowning man, and was obliged to support himself on a life-buoy which had been thrown from the ship. The steamer had now been brought round, and a boat lowered, which picked up Mr Clifford after he had been twenty-five minutes in the water, the body of Mr Barnato being recovered soon after. Efforts which were at once made to restore animation proved unsuccessful. There was a north-east wind with heavy sea, the speed of the vessel being fifteen knots, and there was a great danger of being struck by the propellers, which are well out on the quarter of the Scot.