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  • Belfast Between The Wars


Belfast News-Letter, Thursday 5th May 1938


On the night of 18th November last, while troops embarked in the Ulster Queen, the Provost-Sergeant in charge standing on the breast of the quay turned, slipped and fell into the river between the Quay wall and the Belfast Steamship Company’s vessel. A lifebelt was thrown to the sergeant, but he did not seem able to help himself and John Reid, a young dock labourer, of 12 Elm Street, Belfast, at the risk of his own life, jumped in fully clothed and assisted in bringing him ashore. The night was bitterly cold.

At lunchtime yesterday, in the Liverpool shed, before an assemblage of his workmates, friends, officials of the company and Staff-Captain Waters, Headquarters Staff, Northern Ireland Command (representing the General Officer Commanding, Sir James Cooke-Collis), Reid was presented with a framed testimonial on parchment of the Royal Humane Society by the general manager of the company, Mr. Samuel Berkeley.

Mr. Berkeley explained that after Reid’s gallant rescue he had received a letter from Captain Waters, saying that the General Officer Commanding wished to thank their company for the gallant effort of their employee and enclosing a cheque for Reid as “tangible evidence of his appreciation.” The Belfast Steamship Company also made a payment to Reid for his action, particulars of which were submitted to the Royal Humane Society.

“John Reid is a young man of whom his colleagues have every right to be proud.” said Mr. Berkeley. “It will always be to his credit that he risked his life to save that of a fellow man. Reid and his action are typical of the men employed at vessels of this company on the quays at Belfast.” Others present at the ceremony were Mr. T. Shanks, assistant general manager; Mr. T. Neville, quay manager, and Mr. R. T. Chambers, passenger manager.

Reid, a cheerful young fellow of 24, with a modest smile, is a strong swimmer, and a former member of the Boys’ Brigade, with whom he trained. He has been concerned in another quay rescue of which less is known. At 8 p.m. one night before the Liverpool vessel was due to sail, a sailor in the ship fell from some scaffolding into the water between the quay and the vessel. Reid dived in and brought him ashore.


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