William Charles Winch EM

b. 23/04/1867 Sittingbourne, Kent.  d. 26/04/1942 Wath on Dearne, South Yorkshire.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 09/07/1912 Cadeby Main Colliery, near Doncaster, Yorkshire.

William C Winch EM

William Charles was the youngest of three children born to William Arthur and Caroline Elizabeth Winch (nee Parish). He was born in The Forester’s Arms in Sittingbourne on 23rd April 1867, and he was baptised later that year at St Michael’s, Sittingbourne. Sadly, his father had a terrible accident and died soon after his birth, and William found himself living with his uncle Charles in South Norwood, Surrey. He remained in Surrey for the whole of his childhood before becoming a plumber’s boy

On 28th October 1885, he enlisted at Gravesend, Kent in the York and Lancaster Regiment and was based in Sheffield for a time, before serving in Nova Scotia, the West Indies, the west coast of Africa, Natal, Mauritius and India. By 1899 he had returned to Pontefract, Yorkshire, where he qualified as a sergeant instructor. On 12th June 1900 he married Ann Newcombe Glew in Yarm, Yorkshire, and they had five children.

He was promoted to Colour Sergeant before retiring from the Army on 5th May 1908 following 22 years service. He was then appointed Superintendent and Chief Instructor at the Wath on Dearne Rescue Station in Yorkshire. It was in this capacity he was awarded the Edward Medal for his part in the rescue efforts at Cadeby Main Colliery on 9th July 1912. He continued at the Wath Rescue Station for the rest of his working life. He died on 26th April 1942 aged 75 and was buried in Wath on Dearne Cemetery.



On  the  9th  July,  1912,  two  disastrous  explosions  occurred in  the  South Workings of the Cadeby  Main  Colliery,  near  Doncaster,  originating  at  the  coal  face  and  spreading  along  the roads  for  distances  of  nearly  half  a mile. H.  Hulley  and  G.  Fisher  were  among  the first  to  explore  the  affected  districts after  each of  the  explosions.    They  assisted  in  attending to   and   removing   the   injured,   and   also  in building  stoppings  to  shut  off the  dangerous areas,  in  spite  of  the  constant  risk  of  further explosions  and  falls.    Altogether  Fisher  was in  the  pit  for  about  12 hours  and  Hulley  even longer,  and,  as both  men were experienced  pit-men,  they  were  well  aware  of  the   imminent risk  to  their  lives  that  they  ran  during  the whole time.    Their  great  courage  and  tenacity render  their  conduct  conspicuous even  among the  many  brave  actions  performed  in connection  with  the  disaster. J.  E.  Chambers went down into the pit after the   second  explosion,   immediately    explored one of the  roads near  the  point of origin  alone, and  was  the  probable   means  of   saving   two lives;  he  afterwards  went through  the  district to   assist   in  withdrawing  all  men   from   the workings. W.  H.   Prince  helped  to   organise   rescue parties and  assisted  in  saving  life  by the  use of apparatus.    With great presence of mind,  and at  much  risk  to  himself,  he  personally  extinguished  a  fire which occurred  while  he  was so engaged,  and  afterwards  he  helped  to  build the  stoppings. Herbert Williamson    superintended  the rescue work  in  some of the  roads  after  the  first explosion.    A  fall   caused  by  the  second  explosion  prevented  him  from  making  any  pro-gress  for  a time; but  he got together a body ofmen to clear a way over it,  and then  continued the  work of  rescue.    He  also  returned  to  the affected   roads   by   himself    after   the   third explosion.Sergeant  Winch  went  with  his brigade  into the  workings  after  the  first  explosion  to  help in  the  rescue  work;  he  was  knocked  down  bythe  second  explosion,  but   proceeded  inwardsand  assisted  in  saving  lives  by  the  use  of  his apparatus.      He  displayed   great  coolness  in dealing  with  a  fire,  which  broke  out  in  one of the  roads,  and  in  keeping  his men together  to continue  the work. All  these  men  displayed  great  courage  and set  a  splendid  example  in  the  face  of the  disaster.    Throughout  their  work  the  risk  of  a further  explosion sweeping through  the district was  always  present,  and  falls  and  fires  were occurring  in  many  places.