James Gordon LeesPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Sandra Brown

The monument was erected over the grave by public subscription commemorates James Gordon Lees, Newcastle Council`s official lifesaver for 15 years. Gordon Lees was awarded the Albert Medal for his actions in rescuing shark victim James Canning in 1925. James Canning died from his injuries. 

Yesterday, in the Presbyterian cemetery, Sandgate, the memorial which has been erected by the citizens of Newcastle in memory of the late Mr. Gordon Lees, was unveiled at a service conducted by Rev. A.R. McVittie, M.A., of St. Philip's. Newcastle. The service opened with prayer. After which Mr. McVittie explained the purpose of the gathering. They had come, he said, to show their appreciation, and to honour the memory of one who, by his distinguished bravery, had reflected credit not only upon himself, but upon the whole district of Newcastle, for the fame of his courageous life-saving exploits had spread to the farthest corner of the Continent. The strain of his many life-saving exploits had made a toll upon his strength, and, like so many more of Australia's outstanding sons, he had passed on in the prime of life, amid the regrets and sorrow of those who knew him. It was indeed fitting, Mr. McVittie added, that the memory of such a man should be perpetuated, and in this as in every other worthy cause, the Newcastle public had not been found wanting. Part of the money subscribed had been expended on the memorial, and the residue was being invested on behalf of Mr. Lees' son.

The Mayor (Ald. R. H. Christie) who unveiled the memorial, said that he felt proud that one of the first functions which he was privileged to attend in his official capacity was to honour the memory of one who had shed such lustre on the city of Newcastle. The late Mr. Gordon Lees had been an honoured and respected officer of the Newcastle City Council, and his passing had been an occasion of genuine and widespread regret. Ald. H. J. Roberts and V. J. Gould supported the Mayor. Ald. Gould referred to the late Gordon Lees as a hero of peace, who, by his valorous deeds, had won the much coveted Albert Medal.  Mr. J. Palmer, a member of the executive committee of the fund, in handing over the memorial, expressed the hope that this expression of appreciation of the courage of the late Gordon Lees would be a source of comfort to his loved ones. Mr. J. I. O'Connor, another member of the executive committee, also spoke.
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW), 
24 December 1934.


The Albert Medal for Lifesaving was a British medal awarded to recognize the saving of life. It has since been replaced by the George Cross. The medal was first instituted by a Royal Warrant on 7 March 1866 and discontinued in 1971 with the last two awards promulgated in the London Gazette of 31 March 1970 to the late First Officer Geoffrey Clifford Bye of Boolaroo, New South Wales, Australia, and on 11 August 1970 to the late Kenneth Owen McIntyre of Fair Meadow, New South Wales, Australia. The medal was named in memory of Prince Albert and originally was awarded to recognize saving life at sea. 


Address:Maitland Road , Sandgate Cemetery, Presbyterian, Section 20NW, Lot 87, Sandgate, 2304
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -32.869167
Long: 151.706111
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
View Google Map


Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - Local


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 23rd December, 1934
Front Inscription

In loving memory of

James Gordon Lees
(Albert Medallist)

Died 24th March 1934, aged 41 years

This memorial was erected by his fellow citizens as a recognition of his long service and distinguished bravery as life-saver  on the Newcastle Beach.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au