The unique Lifesaving Royal Humane Society 1896 Stanhope Gold Medal, Royal Humane Society Silver Medal, Imperial Merchant Service Guild Cross for Heroism at Sea

London Medal Company The unique Lifesaving Royal H.

The unique Lifesaving Royal Humane Society 1896 Stanhope Gold Medal, Royal Humane Society Silver Medal, Imperial Merchant Service Guild Cross for Heroism at Sea, and Lloyds Medal for Saving Life at Sea group awarded to Captain J.H. Collin, Merchant Navy, who was 3rd Officer of the S.S. "Jamaican" during the Boer War, and was torpedoed, mined and attacked by aircraft during the Great War.

Transport Medal 1899-1902, 1 Clasp: S. Africa 1899-1902; (J.H. COLLIN.); British War Medal 1914-1919; (JOHN H. COLLIN); Mercantile Marine War Medal 1914-1918; (JOHN H. COLLIN); Imperial Merchant Service Guild Cross, silver, silver-gilt and enamels, reverse bearing hallmarks for Birmingham with date letter 'x' for 1897, engraved; (AWARDED BY THE MERCHANT SERVICE GUILD TO JOHN H. COLLIN. M.S.C. FOR HEROISM AT SEA AUGUST 1897), complete with original silver top brooch pin; Royal Humane Society Medal in Silver, for a Successful action; (JOHN H. COLLIN. 28TH JULY 1896.), complete with original silver top brooch two pronged pin; Lloyds Medal for Saving Life at Sea in Silver, 2nd small type; (J.H. COLLIN, SECOND OFFICER OF S.S. "SULTAN", 28 JULY 1896.), complete with silver top brooch bar; Royal Humane Society Stanhope Gold Medal for 1896, 1st type gold medal; (JOHN H. COLLIN.)

Condition: the Merchant Service Guild Cross with some enamel flaking to central enamel device, overall Good Very Fine or better.

Together with the following original items of ephemera: and original studio portrait photograph of Collin, wearing all four of his life saving awards, and the Transport Medal; a crayon sketch in colour of Captain Collin in white service uniform, wearing ribbon of the Transport Medal 1899-1902 and smoking a cigar; another similar, this time wearing navy blue dress uniform; his original Merchant Shipping Certificate of Competency for a Master on a Foreign Going Ship, issued at Liverpool and dated 28th August 1899; the rare original 'unique' gilt titled lid for the case for his Stanhope Gold Medal for 1896; original packets of issue for the Mercantile Marine War Medal and the British War Medal; and envelope addressed to him; various original newspaper articles relating to his heroic deeds.

John Henry Collin was born in Walton in 1874 into a seafaring family, his father being Captain Henry Collin, a shipowner and master mariner. Collin served initially with his fathers vessels, the Blue Funnel and Leyland Lines, and it was whilst aboard one of these, the "Sultan", a British tramp steamer, then travelling across the Red Sea, when on 28th July 1896 he performed an act of heroism which would result in the award of no less than four medals for Lifesaving, his act being deemed the bravest act of 1896 by the Royal Humane Society for the year of 1896 and resulting in the award of the Stanhope Gold Medal, only award once annually.

A full account of the rescue reads: ‘On the 28th July, 1896, Esmolla, a Lascar fireman, belonging to the steamship “Sultan” fell overboard .... A life-buoy was at once thrown to him, which he secured, and the steamer was manoeuvred in order to pick him up, but owing to the immense sea which was running at the time, the man aloft was unable to keep him in sight. After wearing the steamer several times he was sighted on the port beam, but by reason of the high sea it was impossible to launch a boat, as it would have endangered the lives of those who might have volunteered to man her. At once H. H. Collin, second officer, without any previous warning sprang overboard with a line and swam after the man, who had now been three hours in the water. He succeeded in reaching him, and making fast the line, by which he was hauled on board in an exhausted state. Extreme risk was incurred, not only from the high sea running but from sharks, several being seen around the steamer, and their presence was known to Mr Collin before the rescue.’ (R.H.S. Case No. 28,627). He also received a telegram of congratulations from King Edward VII, who was then the Prince of Wales.     

Second Officer J.H. Collin was awarded the Imperial Merchant Service Guild Cross, the Lloyds Medal for Saving Life at Sea in Silver, Royal Humane Society Medal in Silver, for a Successful action, and the Royal Humane Society Stanhope Gold Medal.

On 2nd September 1899 at Liverpool he was granted his Certificate of Competency for a Master on a Foreign Going Ship by the Lords of the Privy Council for Trade of the Board of Trade, and served as Third Officer on the transport ship "Jamaican" ferrying troops to Sout Africa for the Boer War from 1899 to 1902, being awarded the Transport Medal 1899-1902, with clasp for South Africa 1899-1902. By the outbreak of the Great War he was serving as a Captain and Master of his own ship, and served with distinction, having the honour of being torpedoed, mined, and and attacked by aircraft during the course of the war, and was awarded the British War Medal and Mercantile Marine War Medal pair. The incident when he was torpedoed gave him a terrible experience, and leaving a tremendous hole in the ship's side, with air tanks saving the vessel from sinking until they were able to put into a French port, the vessel becoming an attraction to the locals for many months whilst it was repaired, and in the occasion he was mined, his vessel sank, and he was forced to jump from the sinking vessel and to swim about until he was picked up by a French patrol vessel. 

After a long illness, he died aged 56 in 1931 at Wallasey, where he had resided for over twenty years, and where he is buried, the funeral having taken place at Saint Alban's Church.

13 June 2017