Philip William Yates GC (EM exchanger)

b. 03/01/1913 Bishop Auckland, County Durham. d. 14/02/1998 Doncaster, Yorkshire.

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

Philip William Yates (1913-1998) was born in Bishop Auckland, County Durham on 3rd January 1913, the son of James and Hannah Harland Yates (nee Newsham). James Yates was a coal miner, and the family lived in the village of Coundon. Philip had one brother, James, who sadly died as an infant. He was educated at Coundon Church School, Bishop Auckland, and on leaving school, he worked as an undertaker’s assistant from 1926-1927.

Philip W Yates GC

In 1927, at the age of 14, he chose to change career and began working down the mines. He spent four years in various collieries, finishing up at Bentley Colliery in Yorkshire, where the horrific accident on the 20th November 1931, would change his life and career forever.

A huge, violent explosion of firedamp occurred at the Colliery, and several large fires broke out. Of the 47 men and boys in the pit, only 2 survived. Eight men were heavily involved in the rescue effort of the 2 men including Philip Yates. Yates helped Richard Darker, Oliver Soulsby, and Frank Sykes, to help the injured out of the pit. On 30th September 1932, Philip was alongside three other men (Oliver Soulsby, Frank Sykes 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.

After the incident, Philip didn’t return to the mines and worked for Bingham & Sons, Doncaster until he reached retirement and lived in South Yorkshire with his wife Mary (nee Davis), with whom he had a son and a daughter. In 1971, he chose to exchange his Edward Medal (which he donated to the Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery) for a George Cross, and attended an investiture on 14th November 1972, alongside the other six surviving EMs from the Bentley Colliery Disaster.

Philip was very close to all of other men from Bentley, and was the longest living of them when Ernest Allport passed away in 1987. Philip passed away, eleven years later, on 14th February 1998 in Doncaster, and was cremated at Rose Hill Crematorium. His GC and QEII Silver Jubilee Medal of 1977 are privately held.