Wilfrid James Westoe EM

b. ? 1896 Tanfield, Durham.  d. 24/06/1943 Kurri Kurri, New South Wales, Australia.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 27/10/1923 South Garesfield Colliery, County Durham.

Wilfrid was the youngest of six children of Thomas Lander and Ellen Westoe (nee Hudson). His father was a coal miner and hewer who hailed from Durham. Wilfrid followed in his father’s footsteps and became a miner. His father passed away when Wilfrid was young and he remained at home to support his mother financially. They lived in Burnopfield near to the South Garesfield Colliery. Following the award of the Edward Medal for his actions on 27th October 1923, Wilfrid chose to emigrate to Australia. On 14th May 1925, he and his wife Amy sailed for Adelaide, South Australia from London. He and Amy settled in Weston, New South Wales, where Wilfrid worked as a miner. Wilfrid died in Kurri Kurri in a mining accident on 24th June 1943, aged 47. He was interred at Newcastle Memorial Park.



On October 27th, 1923, while some men were working in a seam on the South Garesfield Colliery, Co. Durham, one of them named Mason was completely buried by a heavy fall of earth and stones about five tons in weight and received severe injuries to his head. The only means of reaching the man was through a small opening and Westoe alone of the men present felt equal to attempting a rescue. He squeezed his way through the opening to the injured man and succeeded after an hour and a half’s work in bringing him to safety. Westoe had to work under a continuous hail of stones, while there was great danger of another large fall, and if this had occurred there would have been no possible means of escape. Westoe ran a very grave risk in effecting the rescue and had it not been for his initiative and courage it is probable that Mason would have lost his life.