Hero Abe In Underground Rescue
I would like to tell the story of what happened on the night
of 17th January, 1944 regarding my Dad, George Smith, who then
lived with my mother, Rose, at 4 Richard Street, North Skelton.
My Dad was a deputy in North Skelton Mine and during one of his shifts down the pit he was buried by a roof-fall. He ended up face down, his leg trapped under a prop beneath the great pile of stone and shale.
I will never forget that night when my late brother, George, ran all the way home from Ings Lane, Brotton. The men going home from back shift had called to see if he knew of Dads accident he didnt, so he came to see if we knew anything and we didnt either, even though they had called men out of North Skelton Workingmens Club and the Bulls Head to see if they could help.
This leads to my story of one brave hero called George Bradley from Lingdale, known to everyone as Abe, 25 years old and married with a baby girl.
A number of his mates, all family men with children, had laboured unsuccessfully to free my Dad and the situation looked hopeless. Then Abe suggested that the only way was to get to the back of the fall and work from that side and that he was the lad to do it. Every man there knew the risks involved he had to squeeze himself through a small hole, 23 inches by 8 inches, left by the roof-fall! Any further fall would have buried Abe as well as my Dad, but that night the gods smiled on the brave. There was no further fall and , with great difficulty, Abe managed to free Dads leg and stayed with him a further 40 minutes until he could be rescued hed been buried for 4 hours, his leg was fractured in two places, and it was encased in plaster for the following 13 weeks.
Abe Bradley was awarded the British Empire Medal, The Carnegie Trust certificate, the Daily Heralds Order of Industrial Heroism and a bronze medallion, as well as a cash award.
Abe was horribly embarrassed at all this fuss about nowt. The authorities, of course, did not regard it as nowt. John T Hall, the Northern District President of the Miners Union, in presenting Abe with his awards said, Youre a right un Abe, Im proud to know you, and if these medals were as big as frying pans, theyd be none too big to express my feelings.
My dad always praised Abe because he knew, had it not been for him, he would have died. I can remember my Mam going mad because Dad was late and we were having to build the fire up at a time when coal was rationed.
I think Abe would be the only ironstone miner to receive the accolade and am only sorry he has never had any mention in Tom Leonards Mining Museum at Skinningrove. I will always say thanks to Abe who I am sorry is no longer with us but I am certain my Dad would not have lived until 1964 if Abe had not been down North Skelton Mine that night.
By the way, Abe was uncle to Mr George Benson who is now manager of the Bulls Head. Georges Mam, Mary, must be very proud of her hero brother.
Grace Wynn, 42 De Brus Way, Guisborough
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