Frank Sykes GC (EM exchanger)

b. 03/04/1905 Pontefract, Yorkshire. d. 09/04/1982 Scholes, Cleckheaton, Yorkshire.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 20/11/1931 Bentley, Yorkshire.

Frank Sykes (1895-1984) was born in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, one of three children born to Frederick and Elizabeth Sykes (nee Tate). The family grew up in Doncaster, and tragically, Frank’s brother, Herbert was killed in a gun carriage accident. The Sykes’ third child was called Myra. Little else is known of Frank’s childhood and it is known that he left school at 14 to become a miner.

Frank Sykes GC

On 20th November 1931, at Bentley Colliery, Yorkshire, there was a violent explosion of firedamp, followed by fires. All but two of the 47 men and boys at the coal face were killed or died later of injuries. Sykes helped by 7 other men worked in great difficulty to extricate the wounded and free them and take them to safety.

On 30th September 1932, Frank was alongside three other men (Oliver Soulsby, Philip Yates and Richard Darker) in being awarded the Edward Medal in Bronze, whereas John Ward, Edgar Frazer, Samuel Temperley and Ernest Allport received the Edward Medal in Silver. He was presented with his medal at Buckingham Palace on 23rd February 1933.

In 1932, Frank had married Kathleen Timoney, and they had three sons, George, Fred and Herbert. After Kathleen died, he re-married to Lisa Raymond and they went on to have four children, Ernest, Alan, Margaret and Frank. Frank remained in the mining industry for the rest of his working life, though did suffer flashbacks to the events on 20th November 1931.

In 1971, following the change in the Royal Warrant, he chose to exchange his EM for a George Cross, and alongside six of his fellow recipients, attended his investiture at Buckingham Palace on 14th November 1972. Frank died on 9th April 1982 near Cleckheaton, Yorkshire after a short illness, and was cremated at Dewsbury Moor Crematorium. His GC is not publicly held.