Submitted by Keith Brocklebank
I went to work on the afternoon shift on this day, my workmate Keith Dyer was waiting at the pithead and we went down together. It was just an ordinary shift to us, as soon as we got to our workplace we got going. On afternoons everyone was trying their best to get the work done to finish early and go up the pit.
Billy Dyke and his workmate Ivor Garfield worked next to us, we were packers and they were borers and rippers. Their job was to make safe the place we had to go into to be able to do our packing of the roof.
We hadn’t done much before we heard a shout from Cyril Einon, a face worker, that there had been a bad accident and to go and get a stretcher and blankets. Keith Dyer and myself were the youngest and fittest working on the face on that shift so it was up to us to do the running for first aid equipment.
When we arrived on the scene Billy was lying flat out where Cyril had put him, his face had been covered so as not to cause anyone to be frightened by his injuries. By this time about six other face workers had arrived but all were over sixty years old and most were full of dust.
We quickly got Billy on to the stretcher as instructed by Cyril who was a real brick all through the time we were handling Billy: he said to get him out as fast as possible to save him. After all this time I think he knew he was dead and had been killed instantly and felt nothing, but he did this to keep our hopes up as no one likes to be carrying a dead person out of the pit.
Keith and myself did most of the carrying as we were the fittest. It was about half a mile to the pit bottom and we did it double quick time. When we got to the Ambulance room our job was done and we waited outside only to be told that Billy was dead on arrival. This news really upset us all as Billy was known to us all as young man with a family a nice chap who enjoyed a pint and a good game of darts.
I know it took Keith Dyer and myself a good while to get over what we saw that day, there was no counselling for shock in those days, and it was back to work the next day as usual.