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 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.
BURIAL LOCATION: WATH ON DEARNE CEMETERY, WATH, YORKSHIRE.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.