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Stanley Frederick Gibbs

Stanley Gibbs c.1927
Born 2 January 1909
Hunters Hill, New South Wales, Australia
Died 3 March 1991 (aged 82)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation Employee, Gas Light Company
Known for Albert Medal/George Cross recipient

Stanley Frederick Gibbs GC (2 January 1909 – 3 March 1991) was an Australian recipient of the Albert Medal, formerly the highest decoration for gallantry awarded to civilians or to military personnel for actions "not in the face of the enemy" in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. Gibbs was decorated with the Albert Medal for his rescue of a man during a shark attack in 1927. With the establishment of the George Cross, the Albert Medal was discontinued and, in 1971, living recipients of the decoration were invited to exchange their medal for the George Cross; Gibbs took up the offer and formally became a recipient of the George Cross.


Early life

Gibbs was born in Hunters Hill, New South Wales, on 2 January 1909. Leaving school, Gibbs later gained employment with the Gas Light Company, based in Sydney.[1]

Albert Medal

On 3 January 1927, Gibbs was out driving a launch at Port Hacking when he noticed Mervyn Allum struggling in the water. Thinking the youth was drowning, Gibbs made his way to the nose of the launch in order to give assistance to Allum. It was then that Gibbs realised Allum was being attacked by a shark, and he immediately dived into the water. By kicking and punching the shark, Gibbs managed to free Allum from its jaws. With the assistance of another man, Gibbs succeeded in lifting Allum out of the water and into a rowing boat. Due to his injuries, Allum died soon after.[1][2]

For his actions during the incident, Gibbs was subsequently awarded the Albert Medal. The notification and accompanying citation for the decoration was published in the London Gazette on 8 February 1927, reading:[2]

Board of Trade, Great George Street, London, S.W. 1. 7th February, 1927.

His Majesty The KING has been graciously pleased to confer the Decoration of the Albert Medal upon Stanley Gibbs of Sydney, New South Wales.

The following is an account of the services in respect of which the Decoration has been conferred:—

On the 3rd January, 1927, at Port Hacking near Sydney, New South Wales, a youth named Mervyn Allum was swimming a short distance from the shore when he was attacked by a large shark. It was at first thought that he was drowning, and Stanley Gibbs, who was standing on the nose of a launch he was driving, ready to give assistance to Allum, observed that he was being attacked by the shark. Gibbs dived from the launch and fought the shark with his hands and feet and eventually succeeded in getting Allum, who was very badly injured, from the jaws of the shark, and with the assistance of a man named Macdonald placed him in a rowing boat. The victim died of injuries shortly afterwards.

Later life

In a ceremony at Sydney Town Hall on 28 March 1927, Gibbs was invested with his Albert Medal by the Duke of York.[1] On 9 February 1942, Gibbs enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force at Paddington for service during the Second World War. Allocated to the 35th Battalion as a private, he served in the army until his discharge on 28 December 1944,[1][3] at which time he returned to his job with the Gas Light Company. In 1948, Gibbs married Doris Mannix.[1]

During 1971, the British Government announced that all living recipients of the Albert Medal and Edward Medal would in future be treated as recipients of the George Cross, and were invited to exchange their medals for the latter award. As such, those who wished to exchange their insignia were invited to attend an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace to receive their George Crosses.[4] On 12 July 1972, Gibbs was one of five Australian Albert Medal recipients presented with his George Cross by Queen Elizabeth II. In 1974, Gibbs retired from the Gas Light Company. He died in Sydney on 3 March 1991, aged 82.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Staunton 2005, p. 301
  2. ^ a b London Gazette: no. 33246, p. 864, 8 February 1927. Retrieved on 16 February 2009.
  3. ^ "GIBBS, STANLEY FREDERICK". World War II Nominal Roll. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 16 February 2009.  
  4. ^ Staunton 2005, p. 297
  • Staunton, Anthony (2005). Victoria Cross: Australia's Finest and the Battles they Fought. Prahran, Victoria, Australia: Hardie Grant Books. ISBN 1-74066-288-1.  

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