The stories behind all the plaque featured on the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice are sad and tragic; but there is a double poignancy when you see the ones to the children who are remembered here, and when you read how they died trying to save the lives of playmates or siblings.
Unfortunately, many of the child heroes receive only brief mentions in the Victorian newspapers, so piecing together the stories of their heroic acts can be a somewhat daunting task.
You are left wanting to know more about the victims of the tragedy who receive very little, if any, mention in the newspaper articles. The parents, whose child gave his or her life in order that another parent's child could live and grow up. The brothers and sisters, who must truly have felt the loss of their sibling, no matter how proud they must have been of the circumstances in which their lives were lost.
Sadly, their voices are seldom given vent in the newspapers of the age, and they must remain, forever, the forgotten victims of heroic self-sacrifice.
One such child is William Fisher, who was just nine years old at the time of his death in 1886, and whose death was a double tragedy to his poor parents as William died unsuccessfully trying to save the life of his little brother.
His memorial in Postman's Park reads:- "William Fisher, Aged 9. Lost His Life On Rodney Road, Walworth While Trying To Save His Little Brother From Being Run Over. July 12 1886."
The facts behind the tragedy, as recounted in The Portsmouth Evening News on the 12th of July 1886, were these:-
"On Tuesday evening two brothers, named William and James Fisher, aged ten and two years respectively, were in Rodney-road, Walworth, when the youngest stepped off the kerb to cross the road.
At that minute a two-horse van was approaching, and William, seeing the danger his brother was in, rushed into the road to pull him hack; but they were both caught by the horses of the van and knocked down, and the wheels passed o'er them.
They were picked up and taken to Guy's Hospital, where William died immediately on admission and James shortly afterward."
The inquest into their deaths was held at Guy's Hospital on Friday 16th July 1886.
The Stamford Mercury reported on it in its next week's edition of Friday 23rd July 1886:-
"An inquiry was held on Friday at Guy's Hospital concerning the deaths of William Fisher, aged 9 and-a-half years, and James Fisher, aged 2 and-a-half years, late of 35, Brandon street, Walworth, who were run over in Rodney-road, Walworth.
It appeared that William, seeing the danger his brother was in, rushed after him and seized him by the shoulder to pull him out of the way of the van, when the shaft struck him and caused them both to swerve round and fall together.
The front wheel passed over both of them before the driver could pull up.
James was first extricated, and then William, whose thought, even at that moment, was for the safety of his brother. He tried to follow him, but staggered and fell against a hoarding on the pathway.
Both were conveyed to the hospital.
The elder boy was pronounced to be dead, but the other lived a few hours.
The jury returned a verdict of "accidental death.""
The two boys were laid to rest together, in a common grave, in Manor Park Cemetery, Forest Gate, on the 20th of July 1886.