b. 16/01/1889 Lichfield, Staffordshire. d. 30/08/1958 Wolverhampton, Staffordshire.
DATE OF AM ACTION: 02/10/1908 Bushbury, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire.
On 2nd October, 1908 19 year-old Arthur Eccleshall was working as a porter at the Staffordshire station of Bushbury – which closed in 1912 but was then just a few miles north of central Wolverhampton – when he saw three children making their way across the level crossing. Eccleshall noticed that a light engine was approaching the station at around 10mph, and that the children’s lives were at risk. He shouted to alert them and two of the children ran clear of the rails on which the train was travelling, but a third little boy tried to run between the platform and rails to escape. Eccleshall put his own life in danger by jumping off the platform on to the rails in front of the approaching train and lifting the child clear, before being struck by the train himself and left unconscious.
This selfless act would see Eccleshall become the youngest railwayman to receive the prestigious Albert Medal gallantry award in the UK. Civilian gallantry medals, awarded for deeds performed ‘not in the presence of the enemy’ are all especially rare. Albert Medals (AM) are exceedingly so. Eccelshall was awarded the second class AM for gallantry on land, a solid bronze oval-shaped medal of which only 290 were ever issued. They are made rarer still by the fact that at least 49 of these were returned when the living holders were offered the chance to exchange them for a George Cross in 1971. Arthur Eccleshall, however, never got the opportunity to exchange his medal.
He went on to marry a local girl, Edith Emily Banks, in 1915 and the couple had two daughters. During WWI he served as a Private in the 2/6 South Staffordshire Regiment, during which time he was held as a prisoner of war at Minden, and for which he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal. His railway career continued for a further 47 years, working for the London & North Western Railway LMS and British Rail respectively, before he retired in 1950 as Chief Clerk at Dudley Passenger Station. A keen lifelong sportsman, with a particular interest in Wolverhampton Wanderers and County Cricket, Arthur was an active member of the community; holding the post of treasurer at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Dunsltall Road, Wolverhampton for 25 years and, during retirement, was Voluntary Steward at Cannock Hockey Club. While watching his beloved Wolves ‘at home’ at The Molineux on 30 August 1958, Arthur suffered a severe heart attack. He died later that day at the Royal Hospital, Wolverhampton, aged 69.
On the 2nd October, 1908, between 1 and 2 P.M., three children were making their way over the level crossing at Bushbury Railway Station, where Eccleshall was employed as a porter. A light engine was approaching at the time, travelling at about 10 miles an hour, and seeing that the children’s lives were endangered Eccleshall shouted to them, when two of the children ran forward and got clear of the rails on which the engine was travelling, while the third, a little boy, tried to escape by running between the platform and the rails; the engine was almost upon him when Eccleshall jumped from the platform in front of the engine and lifted the child clear of the railway track. In so doing he was struck by the engine and thrown into the four-foot way, being rendered unconscious..
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: SOLD FOR £10,000 IN 2013.