George Forster Mason EM

b.  29/04/1883 Bearpark, Durham. d. 29/09/1942 Hedley Pit, South Moor, Durham.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 29/09/1930 Hedley Pit, South Moor, County Durham.

George was one of four children born to John George and Isabella Mason (nee Calver) on 29th April 1883 in Bearpark, Durham. He had two brothers, William and Robert, and a sister, Isabella. It is believed at some point, the relationship between his parents broke down, and his mother emigrated to the USA, where she died in Banksville, Pennsylvania in 1896. During WWI, George served as a Driver in the Royal Field Artillery, and suffered wounds which caused him to be invalided home. He returned to the North East, and married Sarah Newton (born 1894). They would have two children, Isabella (born 1924), and Robert (born 1926). George spent the rest of his working life working at Hedley Pit, South Moor, and the family resided at 19 William Street in Stanley. George tragically was killed in a mining accident at Hedley Pit 12 years to the day, after the incident which earned him the Edward Medal.



On the 29th September, 1930, a fall of roof occurred in the Hedley Pit, South Moor, County Durham, partially burying a hewer, Frederick Beaumont. A chargeman, Victor King, was the first to come to the rescue. He found that a small passage-way remained open by which the buried man might be reached and, with the assistance of his son Richard and John George Tarn, be immediately built two chocks of timber to keep it open. The passage was seven yards long and about two feet square and the only practicable method of rescue wasfor three men to crawl along the passage-way and lie full length, two in the passage-way and one over Beaumont’s body, and pass back, one at a time, the stones that were pinning him down.

This perilous and arduous work was carried on for nine hours by a team of miners (including Victor King) working in relays under the direction of the manager (Walter Robert Scott) and the under-manager (Robert Reed) until at last Beaumont was released, shaken but otherwise uninjured. During the whole nine hours the roof was shifting and “trickling” and on four occasions Beaumont was almost freed when a further fall buried him again. At one time the danger of a further fall appeared so great that the manager telephoned for a doctor (Dr. Charles James Brookfield Fox) to come to the pit to amputate Beaumont’s leg and so expedite his release. Fortunately — as it turned out — the doctor found it impossible to amputate in the restricted area in which Beaumont was confined, but he remained on the scene until Beaumont was rescued and examined and treated him before sending him to the surface. Shortly after Beaumont was extricated the whole of the tunnel collapsed.