James Vivian Reed AM

b. 1889 Cardiff, Wales.  d. 08/04/1963 Westbury Hospital, Wiltshire.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 28/12/1908 Messina, Sicily, Italy.

James was the eldest of five children of James and Ann Reed, and lived at Bute Street, Cardiff. In 1913 he married Kezia Woodward in Cardiff and they had at least two children. He died on 8th April 1963 in Westbury Hospital, having resided near Warminster, Wiltshire for the latter part of his life. He was cremated at Haycombe Crematorium, Bath and his ashes were removed by the family.



On the occasion of the earthquake at Messina on the 28th December, 1908, the steamship Afonwen, of Cardiff, was lying at her moorings, having arrived at Messina on the 24th December. The first intimation the Master of the ship (Captain William Owen) had of the disaster was on being awakened in the early morning of the 28th December by the noise of the upheaval and the commotion caused by the tidal wave, but owing to the darkness and the dense clouds of dust the full extent of the disaster could not be realised for some time. The danger to shipping claimed the first attention of the Captain, but having satisfied himself as to the safety of his vessel he proceeded ashore with his crew, as the dawn broke, to render assistance. The particular act of gallantry in respect of which the Albert Medal lias been awarded was performed when a building of five storeys was reached, where children were noticed at a great height from the ground crying for help. The interior of the building had for the most part collapsed, and one of the walls had disappeared; the structure was therefore in a very dangerous condition. The Captain having given the word, Henry Smith, Able Seaman, and, shortly after, James Vivian Reed, Second Mate, swarmed up a rope to the rescue of the children, who had lowered string by means of which the rope was hauled up and made fast. The rescue of the children having been effected, three persons were lowered down from a story above. Henry Smith, in pursuit of his calling, is away at sea and therefore was not able to attend at the Palace yesterday. His medal will be presented at a later date.