The King’s Stretcher Bearers 

Museum of the Order of St John Rachel Job, collections and engagement assistant

There were two flights of stairs to be negotiated… but we were thoroughly rehearsed. The King said, ‘thank you’ when finally we had deposited him by the side of his bed. Afterwards the Queen sent for us, and we lined up before her. She shook hands with each of us.   

-Superintendent T.F. Appleton, 44th Division, Acton

Black and white photograph of four men in St John uniform standing in a row.
Pictured outside St John’s Gate, where the Museum is housed, are (from left to right), Supt. T F Appleton (No.44 Division, Acton), Sergeant J W Claridge (also No.44 Division), Sergeant E Howard (No. 94 Division, Dagenham), and Corporal W T Puddifoot (No. 83 Division, Northern Heights). PHA 814

Superintendent Appleton was one of four St John Ambulance volunteers who were asked to perform a very special duty in February 1929. The elderly King George V had just had lung surgery and was advised to travel to Bognora popular British seaside resort, to recuperate in the fresh sea air. The volunteers were required to transport the King from his bedroom at Buckingham Palace to his vehicle and then up two flights of stairs on arrival at Bognor. In preparation for this unique royal duty the volunteers had spent a week training with a twelvestone man in their stretcher.  

Afterwards, on the King’s instructions, each of the stretcher-bearers was presented with gold cufflinks bearing the Royal Monogram in recognition of their service.The King was petitioned to bestow the royal suffix Regis (meaning “of the King) on Bognor and the town has been called Bognor Regis ever since.

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