William Jamieson GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 30/08/1888 Wanlockhead, Scotland. d. 28/09/1965 Muirfield, Perth, Scotland.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 07/01/1936 Prestea, Ghana.

William Jamieson (1888-1965) was born on 30th August 1888 in Wanlockhead, Scotland, one of eleven children born to David and Jessie Jamieson (nee Slimmon). William’s parents had married in 1870 and sadly three of his siblings died in infancy. He came from a mining family, and his great grandfather, grandfather and father had all been lead miners, so it was destiny that William would follow the family tradition. At the age of 14, he began work in the local mine in Wanlockhead for 1 shilling a day. He progressed to a miner and was given a paid contract dependent on the distance he mined.

William Jamieson GC

William married Elizabeth (known as Liz) Stoatson, and the couple had two daughters, though sadly their first daughter was stillborn. In 1934, the Wanlockhead mine was closed down by the Duke of Buccleuch due to a drop in the price of lead, and the village suffered hugely as the majority of the men of a population of 1000 were miners. Looking for new opportunities, William signed a one year contract in 1935 to work in the Ariston Gold Mines in the Gold Coast of West Africa (now Ghana).

On 7th January 1936, at the mine in Prestea, there was an explosion and William decided to act. When he was being lowered underground, he found a native workman lying unconscious on the shaft station. As the man appeared to have been gassed. Jamieson, with a companion, decided to investigate the cause. On passing through the ventilation door at the back of the shaft station they found three more boys lying about 50ft from the door. It was evident that they had also been gassed; they were removed to the shaft station. After another 900ft they found another boy lying across the track.; Mr Jamieson sent him back with two boys and continued alone to the working face. There he found 6 more boys lying in a serious condition and he at once proceeded to drag them back out of the fumes. He eventually had to be helped out of the mine himself as he was unable to walk without help.

William returned to Scotland in June or July 1936 at the end of his contract, and during the voyage a cablegram arrived informing him that he was on King Edward VIII’s Birthday Honours List to receive the Empire Gallantry Medal of the Civil Division, and he attended the only investiture the King had before his abdication. William did wish to return to West Africa, but he was too ill from the gassing to do so. He also suffered blackouts.

He was unable to work for a year, and in 1937, the family moved to Glenridding in the Lake District, where William became Underground Manager at Greenside Mine. In 1940, he was notified that his EGM was to be exchanged for the new George Cross, and he attended an investiture at Buckingham Palace in May 1942. They had remained in the Lake District until 1941, when he took his family back north of the border to Dumfries where he worked for ICI at Powfoot. He was appointed to his position due to his extensive knowledge of explosives.

At the end of Second World War, he became Manager of Gasswater Barytes Mine near Old Cumnock where he spent the rest of his working life. The family remained in Dumfries whilst William worked in Cumnock during the week. On his retirement in 1958, he and Liz returned to Wanlockhead where they lived in his deceased mother-in-law’s house. Sadly Liz died in January 1964, and William struggled to cope and often stayed with his daughter Winifred in Perth. He died whilst staying with her, on 28th September 1965, and was buried with his wife in New Cemetery, Wanlockhead. His GC, and 1953 QEII Coronation Medal are privately held.