Wilby Booth EM

b. 1st Quarter 1882 Thornhill, Yorkshire. d. 16/11/1937 Barnsley, Yorkshire.

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

Wilby was born in Thornhill, Yorkshire in 1882, and was baptised on 8th April that year at St Michaels and All Angels. He was the fifth of eight children born to coal miner David Booth and his wife Harriet (nee Wilby). By 1901, the family had moved to Barnsley, where Wilby was employed at the North Gawber Pit. In 1903, Wilby married Harriet Clayton in Barnsley and they had a son, Herbert. Wilby died in November 1937 in Barnsley, aged 55.



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, Jefiells 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.