William Walker EM

b. 1871 Seaton Delaval, Northumberland. d. ? 1939 South Shields, Durham.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 27/04/1916 Harton Colliery, South Shields, Durham.

William was the eldest of three children born to Matthew and Elizabeth Walker (nee Wilkinson) in 1871 in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland. His father was a miner, and William was destined to follow in his footsteps from a young age. By the time William had turned 16, the family had moved to South Shields, Durham, where both father and son were employed at Harton Colliery. In 1893, William married Agnes Jane Atkinson in South Shields and they would go on to have two sons and three daughters. Little is known about William’s life following the award of the Edward Medal. He died in South Shields aged 68 in 1939.



On the 27th April, 1916, a large fall of roof occurred at Harton Colliery. Eight men, under the supervision of Walker, were engaged in clearing away the fallen stone, when a further and heavier fall occurred, whereby one of the men, named Hall, was caught and apparently buried beneath the stone. Devenport was at once sent for and, on arrival, crawled through a small opening, which was left between the fallen stone and the side, until he reached Hall. He found him pinned by the legs, but otherwise safe. He put in two props to keep the roof, which was still very uneasy, from falling on him, and returned. Walker and Devenport then both crept in to Hall, and, while Devenport lifted the stones from his legs, Walker dragged him out. Hall is a very heavy man, weighing seventeen stone.

The rescue occupied one hour and five minutes, during the whole of which time the roof was working and threatening to fall into the small opening by which the rescue was effected. Half an hour after the rescue it did so fall in. There can be no doubt that Walker and Devenport saved Hall’s life, and risked their own lives in so doing.