Richard Henry King GC (EM exchanger)

b. 13/01/1905 Howden-le-Wear, Durham. d. 23/11/1983 East Stanley, Durham.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 29/09/1930 Hedley, County Durham.

Richard Henry King (1905-1983) was born on the 13th January 1905 in Howden-le-Wear, County Durham, the son of Victor and Mary Ann King (nee Jordan), who had married in 1903. His father like many men in the north east at the time, was a coalminer. Richard attended Greenlands Primary School and then Kyo Laws Secondary School. At the age of 14, he left school and followed in his father’s footsteps and went down the mines. It was an occupation he held for the majority of his life.

Richard H King GC

On 29th September 1930, at South Moor Colliery, Hedley, County Durham, when there was a heavy roof fall, burying Frederick Beaumont. First on the scene was Victor King (Richard’s father). He found that a small passage remained open by which Beaumont might be reached. With the assistance of Richard and John Tarn, he immediately built two chocks of timber to keep it open. The passage was 7 yards long and 2ft square and the only method of rescue was for the three men to crawl along the passage way and lie at full lengrh, two in the passage and one over Beaumont’s body, and pass back, one at a time, the rocks that were pinning him down. This work was carried on for 9 hours by a team of men working in relays under the direction of the manager Walter Scott and the under manager Robert Reed, until at last Beaumont was released. Four times he was nearly out when another fall buried him.

In all 19 men were awarded the Edward Medal (London Gazette 20th October 1931) for their part in the rescue: John Akers, Thomas Buckley, Philip Cox, John Dart, Thomas Dixon, Charles Fox, Robert Johnston, James Kent, Richard King, Victor King, Joseph Lees, George Mason, George Nancollas, Robert Reed, Walter Scott, Walter Sheldrake, John Tarn, Thomas Uren and William Waugh, though sadly Richard King was the only one still alive when the opportunity came for a possible exchange for a George Cross in 1971. On 6th July 1932, he married Ethel Jefferson, and they went on to have two sons and a daughter.

Richard did choose to exchange his medal and attended an investiture at Buckingham Palace on 13th February 1973. His and his father’s Edward Medals were donated to the Beamish Museum, County Durham. Richard passed away on 23rd November 1983 in East Stanley, County Durham, and he was cremated at Mountsett Crematorium and his ashes scattered in the Garden of Remembrance. His GC and 1977 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal are not publicly held.