1939 – A Drowning Tragedy and a Gallant Rescue by Robert Foulds

Robert Foulds was born in about 1920 and lived in Paisley. He visited Coldingham Bay with the Paisley Boy Scouts when he was 18 years old. While he was there a girl got into trouble in the sea. Robert was able to save her but tragically, minutes later, a young man got into trouble and despite efforts to save him, he was drowned. This young man was Robert Morton, who was 23 years old. He was born in Paisley in 1916.


Coldingham Sands Drama

A drowning tragedy and rescue occurred almost simultaneously at Coldingham, Berwickshire, yesterday. The victim was Robert Morton of 46 Glasgow Road, Paisley. Hundreds of visitors were bathing at the sands when a girl bather got into difficulties. Robert Foulds, 18, of 24 Maxwelltown Street, Paisley, who is in camp with a Paisley troop of Boy Scouts, was bathing nearby. Immediately he swam out through the breakers to her aid. With difficulty he managed to bring the girl safely ashore. Foulds was exhausted by his effort, but the girl, whose name is unknown, was able to go away with some friends.

At this time Morton was seen to be in difficulties. A surf lifeboat stationed on the beach was quickly launched and made for the spot, but when about half distance it was struck by a succession of heavy breakers and overturned. The four men on board managed to reach the shore safely. The St Abbs lifeboat was launched and was soon on the spot. Some bathers also swam out with a life-line, but no trace of Morton could be found. Morton had been on holiday at St Abbs with his parents and two sisters.

Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 07 August 1939

Robert Foulds was later given three awards for his gallantry.

Three awards for gallantry were made on Monday at Paisley Town Council Chambers to Assistant Scoutmaster Robert Foulds, of the 14th Paisley Company, in recognition of an heroic act at St Abbs, Berwickshire, in August, when he rescued a girl from drowning. He was presented with the Scout bronze cross by Captain Spence, the Scottish Scout Commissioner, and Provost T D Macnair, Paisley, handed over the Royal Humane Society’s bronze medal, and the gold medal of the Paisley Amateur Swimming Club, of which Mr Foulds was member. Captain Spence said that it was only the fifth Scout medal to have been presented in Scotland, and Provost Macnair said it was the second medal that had been awarded the swimming club in almost 50 years.

The Berwick Advertiser, Thursday 21 March 1940

Robert Foulds was called up to serve in WW2 on the 18th of January 1940, and went on to serve in the 51st Highland Division as a field medic. He was awarded the Legion d’Honneur for his part in the D-Day Landings. He died age 97 in 2017 and the Daily Record printed his obituary.


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