(John) William Austin EM

b. 17/08/1910 Sunderland, County Durham.  d. 03/01/1952 Sunderland, County Durham.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 30/03/1947 Hylton Colliery, Sunderland.

John, known by his middle name William, Austin was born in Sunderland on 17th August 1910. He spent his working life down the pits, and married Martha B Simpson in Sunderland in 1933. By 1939 he was living at 16 Broadsheath Terrace in Sunderland, and was working as a coal hewer. He and Martha had no children at this stage. William was killed in an accident at Hylton Colliery on 3rd January 1952, aged 41.



On the 30th March, 1947, a repairer employed at Hylton Colliery, Durham had been overcome by gas in an old disused road. Deputy Charlton was informed that the man was missing and at once conducted a search, testing for gas with his flame safety lamp. He had gone only a few yards when he found gas present, at the same time noticing ahead of him, some 30 yards from the entrance, a light from an electric lamp Accompanied by another man he went towards the light but owing to gas had to return Assisted now by Austin and many other men Charlton endeavoured to clear the air by erecting bratticmg across the air intake and extending it down the middle of the road, he coupled air hosing to the compressed air range, but when used this had little effect and the rescuers could get no nearer than 12 yards from the man. Despite the conditions Charlton and Austin, crawling on their knees and at times on their stomachs succeeded m reaching the man who was then alive but unconscious. Whilst dragging him out Charlton was slightly overcome and had to have a short rest, but soon returned to help Austin who in turn collapsed for a time, and was dragged clear. Others finally assisted Charlton to carry the man to fresh air, and it is unfortunate that although given artificial respiration for a long period he failed to respond.