Lewis Martin performed an act of bravery during floods at Bacchus Marsh on 3 August 1891. That day, the Bacchus Marsh Express recorded, was 'memorable in the history of Bacchus Marsh as the date of the biggest flood seen in the valley by white men'. The Lerderderg River was overflowing with fast-flowing water and broke its banks at several places, including a break near the pound at Darley. The water rushed towards Fiskin Street, and from the break of day families in Fiskin Street began to flee. One couple, the Hinchcliffes, were encouraged to leave but Mr Hinchcliffe decided to remain at home. Local Constable David McGrath was concerned about his safety, and when storekeeper Lucius Herbert Marston drove by with a horse and heavy wagon, intending to collect furniture, McGrath asked him to save Hinchcliffe. Marston was accompanied by his assistant, Albert Ernest Abud, and driver Henry Biggs, a 25-year-old brickmaker who had recently married. McGrath explained that he had recently crossed the water safely on his horse. Marston and his team hurried to the water, and attempted the same crossing.
The strength of the current swept the horse and wagon completely under, and Biggs was swept away and drowned in view of his wife. Marston and Abus managed to grab onto a fence, on the edge of a brick hole that threatened to collapse at any time. They clung on desperately as the water roared by and Biggs' wife screamed for him from the bank. Other bystanders, Thomas Anderson and 'a fish salesman named Martin, who had recently come to the district', grabbed a punt that was kept by the Water Supply Department to guage the height of the Werribee. Taking the most dangerous but shortest route to Marston and Abud, the punt quickly capsized, and Anderson and Martin were thrown into the water. Martin was a strong swimmer and was able to swim against the current, but Anderson struggled desperately before reaching safety. By now hundreds of onlookers had gathered, and two more people, Edward Simpson and Jack Wells, became involved in the rescue. They managed to lead Marston and Abud to safety via a longer route to their rear. A magisterial enquiry was held the following day and a verdict of 'accidentally drowned' was returned.
Martin, Anderson, Marston and Abud all received bronze medals from the Royal Humane Society of Australasia (Martin was case #1106; the others were 1102, 1103 and 1105).
Bacchus Marsh Express, 8 August 1891.
Royal Humane Society of Australasia Annual Report 1892, p.36.