Thomas Hulme GC (EM exchanger)

b. 23/10/1903 Leigh, Lancashire. d. 22/10/1988 St Helens, Cheshire.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 23/01/1941 Leigh, Lancs.

Thomas Hulme (1903-1988) was born in Leigh, Lancashire on 23rd October 1903, the son of John and Alice Hulme (nee Hilton). His father was a journeyman house painter who sent his young son Thomas to St Paul’s Church of England Elementary School in Leigh near to where the family lived. Thomas was an intelligent boy and gained a scholarship to Leigh Grammar School, and then studied at the Wigan Mining & Technical College. He worked in several colleries in the early part of his career, before settling at Parsonage Colliery in Leigh.

Thomas Hulme GC

In 1930, he married Dorothy Grundy, and in 1935, he became Under Manager at Parsonage. On the outbreak of World War II, Thomas was in a “reserved occupation” and not called up for service. On 23rd January 1941, there was a heavy roof fall at Parsonage Colliery. Two hewers were trapped; one was quickly released but the other, Thomas Wignall, could not get away, and as the fall was continuing, he was in an extremely dangerous position. The only access to him was along the conveyor belt, over which the roof had aqueezed down to 2ft. Hulme crawled along the belt, a distance of about 6ft to 8ft, and although he had to lie prone on the belt and there was the possibility of a total collapse, he stayed there for one and a half hours. He succeeded in building three hard wood chocks around Wignall to prevent the roof closing down on him, and afterwards helped Wignall get clear of the debris so that he could roll over onto the conveyor belt and crawl out, practically unhurt.

On the 16th May 1941, the London Gazette announced the award of the Edward Medal in Silver to Thomas Hulme. Just eleven days later, on 27th May, he attended his investiture at Buckingham Palace receiving his EM from King George VI. Following the nationalisation of the coal industry, Thomas was appointed Assistant Agent, No 4 Sub Area of the Manchester Area and in 1949 became Assistant to the St Helens Area General Manager. In 1954 he was promoted to Deputy Area Production Manager, and then promoted to Area Production Manager in 1957. In 1967 he retired as General Manager of the St Helens and West Lancashire Area of the National Coal Board.

In 1971, following the change in the Royal Warrant, Thomas chose to exchange his EM for the George Cross. At Buckingham Palace, on 13th February 1973, he was re-invested with his GC. He donated his EM to Leigh and Wigan Borough Council, and it is now displayed in the Museum of Wigan Life.

Thomas died on 22nd October 1988 in St Helens, and was cremated at St Helens Crematorium and his ashes were scattered in Section 8 of the Garden of Remembrance. His GC, Defence Medal 1939-45, 1953 QEII Coronation Medal and 1977 QEII Silver Jubilee Medal are not publicly held.