John Victor Harrilds EM

b. 13/07/1897 Greenwich, London.  d. 26/07/1968 Bromley, Kent.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 04/11/1947 London.

John V Harrilds EM

John was born on 13th July 1897 in Greenwich, the son of John George and Florence Harrild. He was baptised at Christ Church, Deptford on 1st August 1897. He had at least four siblings. John began his employment with the London Midland Railway Company. John became a motorman, and by 1939 he was living alone at 7 Mornington Avenue in Bromley. He later became a driver, and it was in this capacity that he was awarded the Edward Medal in 1947. John died on 26th July 1968 at home at 11a Freelands Road, Bromley. He was unmarried at the time of his death.



At about 1.45 p.m. on 4th November, 1947, a small boy, aged 2 years 10 months, strayed on to the electric railway lines of the British Railways (London Midland Region), where he was seen to fall on to the rails by a woman on the platform who immediately gave the alarm. A leading porter gave instructions for the current to be cut off and the driver of an approaching train to be warned, and then went to the end of the platform where he saw the child lying unconscious between the rails, apparently electrocuted. The child was between the positive rail and the outer running rail (about 1 foot apart). About the same time an electric train ran into the station. The driver, John Victor Harrilds, seeing several people on the line left his train to see what was wrong, accompanied by a Railway Inspector. They saw the child between the rails. Harrilds at once ran forward, removing his coat as he did so, and, without hesitation, placed it over the child and lifted it from the track. The child was badly burnt about the head and left leg and was removed to hospital, where he was detained. It is not known whether the electric current was off by the time Harrilds acted, but he did not know the situation nor wait to enquire. He was fully aware, as a driver of an electric train, that his action was one entailing risk of immediate death, the more so as it was a wet day.