Royal Humane Society, small bronze medal (successful) (James O’Niell, 22nd May 1913), France, Central Society of Life Saving Medal, silver, the reverse with embossed inscription, ‘Mr. James O’Neil, Capitaine du Vapeur Anglais “Oilfield”, Sauvetage en Mer de Deux Hommes en Detresse, 21 Aout 1908’, in its red leather fitted case of issue; France, Rouen Chamber of Commerce Medal, silver-gilt, the reverse engraved, ‘Capitaine O’Neill, Commandant, L’Oilfield, 1908’, in its red leather fitted case of issue
James O’Neil, Born, Co. Armagh in 1848, first went to sea in the 1860s and qualified for his 2nd Mate’s ticket in October 1870.
Served with the Bibby Line of Liverpool, and afterwards Hunting & Son of Newcastle, three times decorated for lifesaving. Firstly 2 French awards – Lloyd’s agent at Rouen reporting that they were in respect of his ship, the Oilfield, picking up two members of the French fishing schooner La Normande, found adrift in a dory mid-ocean on 21 August 1908. Two of his ratings received the Rouen Chamber of Commerce in bronze.
His subsequent award of the Royal Humane Society’s Medal in bronze was in respect of rescuing a passenger from his ship the S.S. Bloomfield at midnight on 22 May 1913, at Galveston, Texas – ‘The man fell into the harbour when going ashore from the Bloomfield, the water being foul with oil. Salvor jumped in and held him for ten minutes when a rope was got and he was pulled out’. Society records add that O’Neill was then 64 years of age.
Remaining in command of the Bloomfield until June 1917, O’Neill died at Cape Town, South Africa, 1918; sold with