John Gray Beattie GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 16/12/1882 Easington, County Durham.  d. 05/03/1952 Easington, County Durham.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 19/11/1926 Durham.

John Gray Beattie (1893-1952) was born on 16th December 1882 in Easington, County Durham, one of five children of Andrew Beattie and Mary Irving Cowan. He had three brothers and a sister. John grew up with his family in the nearby village of Castle Eden, and his father worked as a labourer. After a short period of schooling, John became a miner at Trimdon Grange Colliery prior to the outbreak of World War I. On 25th November 1904, he married Mary Jane Dalkin in Kelloe, County Durham. The couple had four children.

George Cross

It is also thought that John Gray Beattie served in the Great War, as a photograph exists of him in uniform, but no records survive to say which regiment he was in, or where he fought. It is definitely known that following the end of the war, he returned to the mines of the North East.

On 19th November 1926, at Trimdon Grange Colliery, a tunnel suddenly collapsed, trapping a miner named Herbert Owens. John Beattie, together with Joseph Clark, worked for 10 hours trying to dig the trapped man out, although they were in grave danger from falling debris, gas and heat. Owens was found barely alive; he was badly burnt and lost a leg. He died later from his injuries.

Both John Beattie and Joseph Clark were originally recommended for the award of the Edward Medal as they were both miners, but this was changed to the EGM, as they were not strictly following their profession at the time. John received his EGM at St James’ Palace on 2nd June 1927 at an investiture. In September 1940, following the creation of the George Cross, all recipients of the EGM were automatically eligible to exchange for the new decoration. Sadly, John was unable to attend his GC investiture on 21st October 1941 and it was sent to him by registered post.

John passed away at home in Easington, County Durham on 5th March 1952 and was buried in Durham Lane Cemetery. His George Cross is held proudly by the Beattie family.