(Samuel) William Jeffells EM

b. 12/04/1883 Barnsley, Yorkshire.  d. 2nd Q 1956 Staincross, Yorkshire.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 02/06/1917 North Gawber Colliery, Mapplewell, Yorkshire.

Samuel William, more commonly known as William, was born on 12th April 1883 in Barnsley, Yorkshire, the 5th of 8 children of William and Mary Ann Jeffells. He was baptised at St Mary’s in Barnsley on 27th June 1883. Little is known of his childhood, and the next time he appears in records is on the 1901 Census when he was 17. He is listed as living with his married sister Polly and her husband George Hall and their two children. By this time, he was already working in the mines. In 1907, he married Lily Jones in Barnsley and they had a son and a daughter, John and Emma. He spent all of his working life down the mines, and was working well into his fifties. On the 1939 England and Wales Register he was working as a colliery roadman, and was living in Darton, Yorkshire with his wife and both children. He died aged 73 in 1956.



On the 2nd of June, 1917, at the North Gawber Colliery, Yorkshire, a train of empty tubs was being hauled towards the face while at the same time a train of 36 tubs, containing the day shift of over 100 men, who were leaving work, was being hauled away from the face. Both trains were being hauled at about six miles an hour. Shortly before the trains met the incoming empty train ran off the rails, knocking down the roof supports and bringing a heavy fall of roof on to the tubs, which were piled in confusion. Both lines were completely blocked, and the signalling apparatus was injured, so that it was impossible to stop the outgoing train. After rapid consultation with Booth, Jeffells jumped on to the hauling rope and, after it had travelled about 25 yards, succeeded in drawing the bolt which secured the pin fastening the rope to the train. Booth, meanwhile, mounted the first tub, and, as soon as Jeffells had drawn the bolt, succeeded, after the rope had travelled a further 70 yards, in drawing out the pin, thus detaching the train from the rope. The train came to a standstill within 30 yards of the fall. As soon as the train was detached from the rope, the hauling engine accelerated to such a degree that Booth was jerked from the tub before he could leave hold of the rope, injuring both knees. The resource and courage of both men undoubtedly avoided a serious accident, in which many lives must have been lost. Both men risked their lives, as had Jeffells slipped from the rope, as he might easily have done, he would certainly have been crushed by the train, while had Booth failed in the very difficult task of drawing the pin while the train was in motion he would have been the first to have been killed when the train crashed into the fall.