b. 11/09/1855 Isle of Bute, Scotland. d. 01/09/1908 Marylebone, London.
DATE OF AM ACTION: 06/04/1877 Ascension Island.
Rear-Admiral Robert Archibald James Montgomerie, C.B., C.M.G., C.V.O., A.M., R.N. was an officer of the Royal Navy.He was a powerful swimmer which enabled him to save the life of a man-overboard at night in shark-infested waters; for this action, in June 1877, he was awarded the Albert Medal of the Second Class.The following year he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant from the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert. In 1886,he married into the Charrington dynasty at Ware; his bride was Aletha Marian Charrington, daughter of Spencer Charrington M.P. and promoted to the rank of Commander on 24 August of the following year.He was made Captain 1st January 1894 and appointed a Naval Aide-de-Camp to King Edward VII on 15 March, 1904.He became Rear-Admiral 29 June 1905 and was still in service at the time of his death, though he had struck his flag at sunset on 1 January 1908 as a result of a dispute with the Admiralty about fuel allowances needed for training.
At 3.10 on the morning of the 6th April, 1877, the “Immortalite,” being under all plain sail, moving 4 knots with the wind, two points abaft the starboard beam, the port gangway look-out reported a man overboard, who proved to be Thomas Hocken. Mr. MONTGOMERIE, who was on the bridge, working a star meridian altitude at the chart table, on hearing the cry, ran over to the lee side, saw the man in the water, and jumped after him. He made for Hocken, asking if he could swim, to which Hocken answered ” Yes, sir,” but did not seem to be moving vigorously. Mr. MONTGOMERIE then got hold of him, hauled him on his back, and towed him to where he (MONTGOMERIE) supposed the life-buoy would be, but seeing no relief, he told Hocken to keep himself afloat while he took his clothes off. While he was in the act of doing so, Hocken, evidently sinking, caught hold of him by the legs, and dragged him down a considerable depth. Mr. MONTGOMERIE, however, succeeded in getting clear, and swam to the surface, bringing the drowning man with him. Hocken was now insensible, and too great a weight to support any longer and finding that his only chance of saving himself was to leave Hocken, Mr. MONTGOMERIE reluctantly gave up the hope of saving him, and struck out for the ship. In the meantime the ship’s course was stopped, and two boats were lowered, by one of which Mr. MONTGOMERIE was picked up. The latitudes in which the occurrence took place abound with sharks; and though there was a half-moon, the sea was sufficiently disturbed to render small objects, even boats, difficult to discern. Had not Mr. MONTGOMERIE been a most powerful swimmer, he would have had little chance of life.
BURIAL LOCATION: ST DUNSTAN CHURCH, HUNSDON, HERTFORDSHIRE.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.