A teenage Birmingham war hero who survived the epic Battle of Jutland in 1916 returned home on shore leave and saved a young girl from drowning in a pond.

Now, the story of Signalman Albert Battersby, who received a gold pocket watch and a Royal Humane Society Certificate in honour of his actions, is back in the public eye almost a century later.

Albert, then just 17, escaped uninjured from the great naval battle, which cost more than 8,500 British and German lives, and returned on leave back to his home in Birmingham.

The teenager was walking in the Small Heath area of Birmingham in the summer of 1916 when he spotted two young children in difficulties swimming in a pond. He dived into the water and managed to rescue Lily Blake, a young girl.

He was unable to save another child, thought to be Lily’s brother, from drowning. But his bravery was recognised with the watch and certificate – and he was honoured with a special presentation when he returned to Great War duties on HMS Princess Royal.

Now the gold watch, a letter from Birmingham Coroner’s Court paying tribute to the youngster’s ‘bravery and exceptional conduct,’ newspaper cuttings and other documents are to be auctioned off by Fieldings auctioneers in Stourbridge on November 15.

The memorabilia has been donated by Albert’s grandson, Michael Battersby, of Smethwick, who had been given the documents by his late father.

“It’s an unusual story of a sailor who came back on leave and saved a young girl’s life. Albert Battersby was my grandfather, although I never knew him, as he died in 1942, aged just 44.

“The local tradespeople collected money for a gold watch and he was presented with it when he went back on duty.

“He had been in the Battle of Jutland on HMS Princess Royal as a Signalman.

Signalman Albert Battersby received a gold pocket watch and a Royal Humane Society Certificate for saving a young girl.
Signalman Albert Battersby received a gold pocket watch and a Royal Humane Society Certificate for saving a young girl.
 

“There were more than 6,000 British losses but he survived and after the First World War ended, he was sent to Russia following the Russian Revolution.

“When he eventually came home, he became a publican, and ran the Bell in High Street, Bromsgrove and the Grant Arms in Cotteridge. He was also President of the North Birmingham Royal British Legion.

“I am very proud of my grandfather, although I never knew him. My father always spoke very highly of him and it seems that he was a very popular man.

“I have inherited the materials from my family, but I have got no-one to pass them on to.”

Nick Davies of Fieldings Auctioneers in Stourbridge, said: “This is a slice of local history that is becoming rarer as time ticks by. To have so much documentation along with the medals is unusual, it is such a wonderful local story.

“I’d love to know if any of Lily’s descendants are still alive.”

The Battersby lot, which also includes standard First World War medals, is up for auction on November 15 at Fieldings in Mill Race Lane, Stourbridge, with an estimate of between £500 and £800.