Medal goes under hammer

A rare medal awarded to a gallant South Kirkby miner for rescuing a buried colleague is to be auctioned off today.

Friday, 25th July 2014, 1:00 pm
medal for hero South Kirkby miner is up for auction

The Edward Medal - a forerunner of the George Cross - was presented to George Smith in 1922 after he risked his life to save a fellow miner who was trapped for eight hours after a roof fall at the pit.

The medal is expect to fetch around £1,000 when it is goes under the auctioneer’s hammer in London later today.

Mr Smith, an overman, was one of two South Kirkby men who were awarded the Edward medal for their brave deeds. The other was William Humphries.

Their joint citation gives the full background to the dramatic rescue mission.

It states how “on February 11, 1922, a workman named Creighton, employed in a seam of the South Kirkby Colliery, Yorkshire, was completely buried by a fall of roof. Several miners, who were at work near the spot came to the rescue,among them Humphries and Smith.

“The imprisoned man’s head and shoulders were soon freed, but owing to the pressure of debris on the lower part of his body and legs it was impossible to pull him clear, as fast as earth was removed, more slipped down in its place.

“The rescue party placed sleepers across the body of the imprisoned man,thus preventing him being completely engulfed by the debris and eventually a passage was made under the sleepers over Creighton’s body, which was unhurt, with the exception of one foot, which was firmly pinned down by a large stone.

“The foot was eventually released and the man freed after eight and a half hours’ work.

“All the men who took part in the rescue were exposed to great risk for a prolonged period and behaved with great gallantry and devotion to duty, but Humphries and Smith were unanimously selected by their comrades as having specially distinguished themselves.”

Mr Smith’s bronze medal is expected to fetch between £800 and £1,200 when it is auctioned at Spink in Bloomsbury, London.

The medal was named after King Edward VII and was introduced in 1907 to recognise “acts of bravery by miners, quarrymen and industrial workers in mines and factory accidents and disasters.”

The medal was replaced in 1971 by the George Cross.

The Edward Medal (Mines) was awarded only 395 times, making it one of the rarest of British gallantry awards.

It was also awarded to three South Kirkby men in 1935 following a disaster at the pit which killed ten men.

Norman Baster,George Beaman and James Pollitt, who took part in the rescue operation, were all commended a year later.