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Museum benefits from watch donation

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An old pocket watch presented by a Naval captain to a seaman who saved him from drowning in Bermuda more than 120 years ago has been donated to the National Museum.

Captain Daniel McNab Riddel, a Canadian, arrived in Bermuda on November 12, 1897, aboard the Royal Navy's HMS Renown.

Captain Riddel got in difficulty in the waters off Dockyard and was rescued by Ordinary Seaman James Glasson Williams in Grassy Bay.

The naval skipper and his wife presented the engraved timepiece to Williams as a gesture of gratitude.

Captain Riddel went on to become a vice admiral, but he and his wife never forgot the seaman who saved him and the couple sent Williams some money every Christmas for the rest of his life.

American museum members Jason and Rena Pilalas of Florida donated the watch to the National Museum last summer.

Mr Pilalas had originally bought the watch at auction because he was interested in the Royal Navy and Bermuda.

Made by Dent's of London, the inside back of the watch is engraved with: “To J G Williams in grateful remembrance of 30th November 1897 from Captain and Mrs Riddel, HMS Renown, Bermuda”.

The pocket watch is now being looked after by the National Museum with a view to it being exhibited soon.

Museum director Elena Strong said: “A significant portion of the museum's vast collection has been built from the donations of Bermuda-related historical artefacts by generous members of the local community and overseas Bermudaphiles.

“I'd like to sincerely thank the past and current donors who have helped grow the NMB collection and in turn preserve Bermuda's cultural heritage for future generations.”

Sign of gratitude: the pocket watch gifted to James Glasson Williams
Saved from drowning: Captain Daniel McNab Riddel on the deck of HMS Renown
Historic ship: HMS Renown was brought into service in early 1897

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Published January 04, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated January 04, 2018 at 8:55 am)

Museum benefits from watch donation

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