William Buyers AM

b. ? d. ?

DATE OF AM ACTION: 31/07/1878 Shanghai, China.

Very little is known of the life of William Buyers, who was 2nd Mate on the Harlaw, when he was awarded the Albert Medal, 2nd Class.



On 31st July, 1878, the ” Harlaw,” when on a voyage from Sydney to Shanghai, struck on the Tung Sha Bank, in latitude 31° 10′ N., longitude 122° 15′ E., and soon after became a total wreck. The boats were got ready, and WILLIAM BUYERS, Second Mate, was ordered by the Captain into the quarter boat, the dingy, which was to remain by the ship. The steward, four seamen, one of whom was Thomas Lawrie, A.B., and three apprentices, got into the boat, in addition to the Second Mate, making nine in all. Owing to the strong tide that was running and the heavy sea, the boat was obliged to be loosed from the ship. The boat was therefore kept near the ship, head to wind. One other boat was seen to leave the ship and run before the wind, and then the ship was shut out from the sight of those in the dingy by squalls of wind and rain. When the ship was again seen from the dingy, the two other boats had left her, and she was swinging round; and before the dingy reached her, she fell over. A box of Indian corn flour was picked up, and the second mate swam on board the wreck, cut the jib sheet adrift, and brought it back to the boat. The dingy was then run before the wind, and at sundown the Gutzlaff Lightship was sighted but they failed to reach it. In attempting to keep the. boat’s head to sea, and towards the light during the night she shipped two heavy seas and capsized. The crew in their efforts to clamber up on the bottom of the boat, caused her to turn round like a cask, and one by one the men and boys dropped off her. The Second Mate was seized by the Steward, but managed to extricate himself after being dragged down some depth. When he again reached the boat, he found Lawrie alone. Early in the morning Lawrie was washed off, when BUYERS at great risk to his life swam to his assistance, and with difficulty brought him back to the boat. They then managed to right the boat and got inside her. Lawrie was, however, washed out of the boat by. a heavy sea, but BUYERS again saved his life and pulled him back into the boat by means of one of the boards at the bottom of the boat. Soon after, when close to the light, the two survivors were picked up by a junk, were kindly treated, and landed at Shanghai.