William Sallows EM

b. 23/08/1887 Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex. d. 4th Q 1965 Colchester, Essex.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 20/11/1942 Great Oakley Munitions Factory, Essex.

Wiliam was born on 23rd August 1887 in Walton on the Naze, Essex, one of ten children of John Wiliam and Martha Sallows (nee Britton). Little is known about his early life, before he began work at the munitions factory in Great Oakley. On 14th August 1915, he married Gladys Annie Offord in Great Oakley and they had two children, Amanda (born 1915) and Jeffrey (born 1922). Little else is known about his life which changed when he was awarded the Edward Medal for his help in the rescue of fellow workers at the Munitions Factory on 20th November 1942. He died in Colchester, Essex in 1965, aged 78.



On  the   20th  November,  1942,  a  violent  explosion occurred   in   a   building   in  which   explosives   were being  mixed,  and  resulted   in  the  immediate  death of  the  two  occupants  of  the  building,  the  complete destruction   of  the  building  itself,  and   considerable damage  to  adjacent  structures.    In  one  of  these,  a Nitrating   House,  a   charge  of  1,800  Ibs.   of   nitro-glycerine  was  in  the   pre-wash  tank,   and   another nitration  was  about   half  completed.    Although  the building  became  filled  with  fumes  and   steam,   the operator,   Mr.   Wheeler,    and    his   assistant,   Mr.Sallows,  remained  at   their   posts  and  took  prompt steps   to  control   the   nitration   and  render  the  explosion   harmless.     They   were   assisted  in  this  by  Dr Baldwin,   the   Assistant    Works   Manager,  whoarrived  on  the  scene shortly  after  the  explosion.    He noticed  that  about  three  square  feet  of  wood  above the  pre-wash  tank   were  smouldering  vigorously  and throwing  off sparks.   With  Mr.  Wheeler’s  assistance he  extinguished  this  very  dangerous  outbreak.     The danger  which  these  three  men  averted  was  a  very real   one  .since  there   is   little   doubt   that   if   the necessary   steps  had   not   been  taken,   an   explosion in  the  building  would  have  occurred  and  that  such an  explosion  occurring  a  few  minutes  after  the  firstone   when   many  workers  had   left   their   buildings and   were  in  the  neighbourhood  would  have  caused a  great  number  of  casualties.     All  three  men  could probably   have   saved   their   lives  by   running,   but they   can  have   been  under   no   illusion   as   to   the danger   they   were   in.     They   acted   promptly   and courageously,   and   without   thought   of   their   own safety  in  circumstances  of  considerable   danger.