William Whitehead AM

b. 02/1895 Oldham, Lancashire. d. ?

DATE OF AM ACTION: 05/01/1919 River Meuse, France.

Little is known about William Whitehead, other than at the time of the outbreak of World War I, he was 19 years and 9 months old, living in Oldham, Lancashire. He went to France on 9th November 1915. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. He was presented with the Albert Medal by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 28th June 1919.



On the night of the 5th January, 1919, Lance Corporal Whitehead was in command of a guard on the River Meuse. One of the guard, in crossing a plank gangway from a barge where the guardroom was situated to relieve a sentry on the river bank, missed his footing and fell into the river, which was in flood. Lance-Gorporal Whitehead immediately jumped into the river, but in the pitch darkness missed the drowning man. He swam to the shore, climbed out and ran down the bank until he reached the spot where the man had been carried by the swift-running stream, and again jumping in he succeeded in rescuing him. Both rescuer and rescued were wearing equipment and greatcoats at the time, and Lance-Corporal Whitehead undoubtedly risked his life in saving the life of his comrade who, when brought to bank, was unconscious.