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Distinguished Conduct Medal and two bars What is left? Mines Rescue of course.

  From: Peter Bonser
Sent: 15 June 2004
Subject: Albert James BONSER

I am just surfing the net and have come across your site. My paternal grandfather was Albert Bonser who served at Mansfield, Ilkeston and Chesterfield Stations. As a child I remember staying with my grandparents at Chesterfield, playing billiards, dancing in the garage 'ballroom' and once being shown around the tunnels and looking after his precious canaries. I have his MRS Davie lamp, the steering wheel from the Leyland fire engine and a number of photo's which I can email you if you are interested?

My recollections are now indistinct so I can't vouch for their accuracy but here goes.

Albert served in the infantry during the First World War and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and two bars - maybe an indication of the sort of career he would follow. He returned from the war and like many went to work in the mines in the Mansfield area. He then joined the Rescue Service in Mansfield subsequently moving to Ilkeston and then in the mid 1940's to Chesterfield. When he retired he may have had an administrative move back to Ilkeston but on retirement went to live in West Hallam.

I clearly remember how he hated 'potholers' and I suffered his wrath for a long time when I had a go at it. He was I think in charge of an unsuccessful recovery attempt with a potholer in the Peak Cavern. Eventually they had to seal the body in.
The photograph which hopefully follows is one of Albert (in the gear!) about to be lowered into a disused tin mine shaft on the Derbyshire Moors

after a young child fell in and was trapped - I seem to remember this rescue had a happier ending.I remember tales of the Cresswell disaster. These men really were hero's in the old fashioned sense - they unquestioningly risked their lives every time they went down a mine to save others.Having gone down mines on about 7 occasions myself I have a rough idea of what it must have been like - horrific. Their families were pretty heroic too really not knowing if dad would come back or not.

Congratulations on your web site - I have only just started looking at it. If this photo gets through to you from New Zealand ok then I'll have a go at another couple.

Pages containing references to Alber Bonser on the site include: -

ps: I lived in Ilkeston (West End Crescent) until I was 16 (1946 to 1962), attending Ilkeston Grammar School. My maternal grandfather was a saddler in Ilkeston looking after amongst other things, the needs of the local pit ponies.

Pit Terminology - Glossary