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Florence Emmett    Nanette Hanson   Marion Young    Emma Townsend

Frances Maude Wright - and other brave ladies

Mrs Frances Maud Wright was the wife of a newsagent's carman and the mother of 6 children who received one of the highest awards for gallantry - the Albert Medal (second class), a forerunner of the George Cross - for her bravery in assisting a police officer to overpower an armed criminal.   It is probably the highest gallantry award ever made to a member of the public in these circumstances in Scotland Yard's history, and is a reflection of the enormous debt which police officers owe to members of the public who come to their assistance.

It was at 1am on 26th December 1910 when Mrs Wright had left her house to go to friends when she saw a man, 31-year-old Charles Arthur, being chased by PC George Haytread.   The suspect turned and fired a gun at the pursuing police officer, who continued to close on the man despite two more shots, all of which missed.   A violent struggle with the police officer ensued and PC Haytread asked for Mrs Wright to blow his whistle to summon help.   She got hold of Arthur's collar and struck him with her fist, grabbed the officer's police whistle and blew it.

Mrs Wright maintained her grip on the offender but he freed his arm, pressed the revolver against PC Haytread's head and pulled the trigger.   Fortunately the gun misfired.   Meanwhile Mrs  Wright continued to grapple with and to strike Arthur, until with further help he was subdued and arrested.

PC Haytread was awarded the King's Police Medal for gallantry.   Partly as the result of newspaper publicity Mrs Wright was recommended for the Albert Medal by the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, which was personally awarded by the King on 23rd February 1911.

Only sixteen women were ever awarded the Albert Medal, during its currency from 1866 to  1971, two of these being posthumous.   Mrs Wright was the third female to receive the Albert Medal, which was the only official medal available for her circumstances at the time.

Florence Amy Emmett was the wife of a Station Master at Peshawar, in North West India who tackled a madman armed with a machete who was attacking her family (London Gazette 17 August 1919).   Nanette Hanson was awarded the Albert Medal posthumously in 1967 for trying to protect her school pupils from an armed and dangerous army deserter who killed her before he was arrested.    Her companion, Marion Young, was awarded the George Medal.   One other similar case was that of Emma Jose Townsend GC who was severely wounded in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent a farmer murdering his 9-year-old son.   

All these courageous women were thrust into violent situations and showed remarkable courage against men armed with weapons and with superior strength to their own.

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