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Michael Toole

Area: Pontefract
Regiment: Rifle Brigade
Rank: Sergeant
Service number: S/3134

My Grandad Sergeant Michael Toole S/3134 “C” Company, 11th Battalion Rifle Brigade served in WW1 in France at the Somme. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery on 15 October 1915, some 9 months before the "Battle of the Somme". He was one of the fortunate ones who came home. After the war in recognition of his DCM. he also received an inscribed gold pocket watch from Lord Masham the owner of Featherstone Colliery.

This is a transcription of a newspaper cutting which was in his medal box.
I don't know which newspaper or the date when this story was published :

Featherstone’s First D.C.M.

On Saturday morning last Mrs. Toole, of 44, Earl Street, Featherstone, received a telegram from her husband, Michael Toole, stating that he had received the D.C.M. and would arrive home at about 3 o’clock.

On this becoming known, the neighbours in the long street soon became busy making streamers and flying them and quickly the street presented a gay appearance. The gallant Sergeant, arrived at the station by the 3.08pm. train from Wakefield, and on his way home received many congratulations, for heaps of his friends had been anxious to see the medal he so nobly earned, and to congratulate him on his achievement.

It will be remembered from our reports early in October, that Sergeant Toole was attached to the Kings Royal Rifle Brigade, and while on a battle, the officer in charge of his platoon was killed and he was placed in command. One of the officers of the Royal Engineers informed Sergeant Toole that five of his men were in a mine, overpowered by gas, he and Rifleman Holmes of Castleford, at once descended the shaft 60 feet deep, and travelled along the roadway 100 yards long and about 3ft. wide, with 10in. of water in it, and found the men unconscious. Three were rescued alive, but on returning for the other two they had moved a little, and although anxious to get them out, they had to give up the task owing to the effect of the gas on themselves.

Indeed when they reached the surface, Sergeant Toole collapsed, and had to be removed to a hospital at the base suffering from the effects of the gas in the mine, and later to the Royal Hospital, Sheffield. Some time ago he returned home and had a hearty welcome, but after a short rest was sent to a military camp at Seaford, Sussex. On Thursday of last week he left hospital, and on Friday at a special parade, he was presented with the beautiful solid silver medal by Col. Paton Bathane, commanding the 14th Division.

The medal is a striking one, bearing on one side the Kings head and the other the words “Awarded for Distinguished Service”, while around the edge are Toole’s name etc.

Prior to the war, Toole was employed at the Featherstone Colliery. On the 9 Sept.1914 he enlisted in the Rifle Brigade, and left for France on 20 July and as a reward for his faithful service was promoted to the rank of sergeant four months afterwards.

The Featherstone inhabitants are justly proud of Sergeant Toole, and of the very daring deed he performed at the risk of his own life. They wish him good luck and God’s richest blessing in his future career.

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