William Pierre Lunell Heyland

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Lieutenant William Pierre Lunell Heyland, (28 September, 1850 – 25 November, 1880) served in the Royal Navy as an officer of superlative physical bravery.

Life & Career

In 1870, Heyland was awarded the Royal Humane Society's Bronze Medal for lifesaving from drowning.

Heyland was promoted to the rank of Sub-Lieutenant on 23 April, 1871.

Heyland was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 15 April, 1875.

In 1877, Heyland was awarded the Royal Humane Society's Silver Medal for lifesaving from drowning after he and Lt. J. L. Mars jumped from Achilles on 15 July 1877 to save John J. Burke, who had fallen from the ship while setting studding sails.[1]

Heyland was appointed to Minotaur on 12 December, 1879. Though he already had won two medals for saving lives, Heyland would die in her a year later in the courageous rescue of a seaman who had gone overboard. A letter from the Channel Squadron's Vice-Admiral Hood reported Heyland's death as follows:[2]

At 9 50 a.m. on the 25th, while getting the jibboom in, Joseph Marston, A.B., was washed overboard from the bowsprit. The sea was far too heavy to lower a boat, and I decided at once not to do so. The engines were stopped, and, as the man floated slowly by the ship, a life-buoy was thrown to him, which he reached. A grass line was veered away from the stern, in hopes that he might get hold of it and be hauled on board. At this moment Lieutenant W. P. Heyland, who was officer of the watch, jumped overboard, got hold of the grass line, and succeeded in giving it to Marston. Both were then holding on by it, and were slowly drawn up towards the stern, and a Jacob's-ladder vas lowered to the water for them to get hold of. A second line with a life-buoy was also veered astern to them. When Lieutenant Heyland had been hauled up near the stern he let go the grass line and endeavoured to get hold of the Jacob's-ladder, but failed to reach it. At this time a very heavy sea washed over him, and from that moment he became quite motionless, and apparently insensible. Arthur Triggs, torpedo instructor, went down the Jacob's-ladder, and, dropping into the water, got hold of the second line and life-buoy and put them close to Lieutenant Heyland, who, however, remained motionless, with his head down, in which position be went down and was lost. Marston was eventually hauled on board by the grass line, as was Triggs, after Lieutenant Heyland sank. It was a most gallant act, on the part of Lieutenant Heyland to jump overboard in such a heavy sea, when be must have known it was impossible to lower a boat, and his death has been deeply felt by all on board. This officer was in possession ot both the silver and bronze medals, awarded for saving life at sea on two previous occasions. Great credit is due to Arthur Triggs, who, at very considerable risk, endeavoured to save Lieutenant Heyland.

Rather incredibly, Heyland was replaced in Minotaur by Lt. Horace Reid Adams, who also wore a R.H.S. Bronze Medal he had been awarded in 1874.[3]

See Also



  1. "Royal Humane Society." The Times (London, England), 23 Nov. 1877, p. 11.
  2. "Lieutenant Heyland, R.N.." The Times (London, England), 13 Dec. 1880, p. 8.
  3. "Naval & Military Intelligence." The Times (London, England), 4 Dec. 1880, p. 6.