b. 11/03/1899 Bristol. d. 13/12/1978 Mountain Ash, Glamorgan, Wales.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 14/11/1922 Mountain Ash, Wales.
Bert Craig (1899-1978) was born on the 11th March 1899 in Bristol. He was the son of James and Sarah Craig, and was the youngest of six children. His father was a tanner’s labourer, and on the outbreak of the Great War, he enlisted along with both of Bert’s older brothers. James rose to the rank of Sergeant Major, whilst both George and William Craig were killed in action. Bert who was too young to join up at first, was working at the Deep Duffryn Colliery, Mountain Ash, Glamorgan which he had done since leaving school at 12.
In 1915, Bert “advancing his age” joined up with the Gloucestershire Regiment as Private No 36856 and served throughout the war in France, India, Palestine, Mesopotamia and Egypt before being demobbed in 1919, when he returned to South Wales and his previous occupation in the pits.
On the 14th November 1922, 23 year-old Bert was working at the Nixon’s Navigation Colliery in Mountain Ash, when a worker called Jones was completely buried by a heavy fall of stones. Four other men were present at the time and made some attempts to get him out; although they could not see Jones, they could hear him moaning. However, further falls were taking place, and the men considered the risk too great and retreated to cover. At this time Bert arrived on the scene. Hearing what had happened, he at once ran to where Jones was buried and began to remove the stones. In spite of his appeals for help, the other men hung back until the falls ceased. But then they came to his assistance, and Jones was extricated alive. Within two minutes of his release a large fall took place which would have killed them both.
On 1st June 1923, Bert was announced in the London Gazette of being the recipient of the Edward Medal in Silver for his actions in saving Mr Jones in the Nixon’s Navigation Colliery. Just over a year later, in Pontypridd, Bert married Millicent Dean, one of five sisters. The couple would have no children. Bert was also a valued member of the St John Ambulance Association and Brigade (he served before and after the 1943 name change) during this time. He was also involved in a later mining accident at Deep Duffryn Colliery, and both accidents and their aftermath left Bert in dire financial straits.
In the 1930s, due in some part to his financial difficulties, Bert trained and qualified as a Swedish masseur and began a professional practice in a room in his house in Commercial Street, Mountain Ash, and became well known for it. In 1971, following the change in the Royal Warrant, Bert chose to exchange his Edward Medal for the George Cross, and attended an investiture at Buckingham Palace in 1972. He donated his Edward Medal to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff. After retiring from the pits, he lived peacefully in retirement in Mountain Ash with his wife.
Bert Craig died in Mountain Ash Hospital on 13th December 1978, and he was cremated at Glyntaff Crematorium in Pontypridd. His medals including the GC, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 and the 1977 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal were donated to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff to be displayed with his Edward Medal.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WALES, CARDIFF.
BURIAL PLACE: GLYNTAFF CREMATORIUM, PONTYPRIDD, WALES.