Joseph Clark GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 07/03/1886 Thornley, County, Durham.  d. 01/03/1965 Trimdon Grange, County Durham.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 19/11/1926 Trimdon Grange Colliery, Durham.

Joseph Clark (1896-1965) was the youngest of seven children brought up at Crow’s House in the parish of Thornley, County Durham. His parents were John and Penelope Clark (nee Miller). He left school at the age of 14 and worked as a bricklayer, stonemason and slater prior to the Great War. On the outbreak of the war, he joined the Royal Horse Artillery, and served with them until being demobbed in 1919. After the war, he returned to the building trade, sometimes staying with his sister in Northumberland in order to find work.

Joseph Clark GC

In the early 1920s he moved to Trimdon Grange, where he began to work as a miner. He earned enough money to buy a house for his mother in the village, and employed Isabella Errington to care for her. He would marry Isabella in 1931. They had a daughter, Penelope.

Joseph’s life changed on 19th November 1926, when a tunnel collapsed at Trimdon Grange Colliery, and a miner called Herbert Owens was trapped. Clark, with John Beattie, worked for ten hours trying to dig the trapped man out, athough they were in grave danger from falling debris, gas and spontaneously generated heat. Owens was found barely alive; he was badly burned and lost a leg. He died later from his injuries.

Originally recommended for the Edward Medal, they were eventually awarded the EGM on 3rd May 1927, and attended an investiture at St James’ Palace on the 5th May 1927. In September 1940, the creation of the George Cross, saw Joseph able to exchange his EGM for the new decoration. He received his GC at an investiture at Buckingham Palace on 21st October 1941. During World War II, Joseph was too old to enlist, so he worked for Summersons in Darlington, away from his family. He would return to Trimdon to Isabella and Penelope every weekend with a suitcase of food.

Due to the award of the GC, Joseph was regularly invited to a number of functions including the 1953 Coronation (though he decided to watch it on TV), and garden parties at Buckingham Palace. He also attended functions at the Café Royal where he met Lord Mountbatten and Odette Hallowes GC MBE. His daughter Penelope remained at home during this time as her mother was unwell and Joseph, working away, was unable to care for her. In 1955, Joseph retired and Penelope was able to join the Durham County Constabulary.

Joseph Clark passed away on 1st March 1965 in Trimdon Grange, and was cremated at Durham Crematorium. His medals including the GC, 1953 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal and three Knights of the Golden Horn, a Friendly Society, were sold at auction in 2014.





Richard Clark (Grandson) – Images of Joseph Clark GC and his wife Isabella.