Video: Ex-serviceman honours Manton miners of WWI in his new book

Charles Emsen, of Worksop has published a book about the miners from Manton Colliery who served in World War One. Picture: Andrew Roe

Charles Emsen, of Worksop has published a book about the miners from Manton Colliery who served in World War One. Picture: Andrew Roe

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An ex-serviceman has poured ten years of research into a book that sheds light on the lives of Manton Colliery miners who served in the First World War.

Charles Emsen, of Saxton Close, Worksop, right, published ‘Underground and Over The Top’ ahead of the centenary this month - his tribute to the miners of Manton who went to war but never returned home.

Mr Emsen, who served in the RAF from 1956 to 1961, was diagnosed with bowel cancer some years ago and decided to keep occupied by researching and writing his book when he was happily given the all-clear.

He visited libraries and museums, along with searching the internet for historical records, in order to uncover details about the soldiers’ identities, some of which were unknown and unrecorded.

Said Charles: “When Manton Colliery opened, the miners together with their families shaped the development and prosperity of Worksop, increasing the town’s population by 20 percent at the beginning of the 20th century.”

“My research led me to a man, Sgt William Henry Johnson, a deputy at the pit who lived at Shelley Street and was also a bell ringer at Worksop Priory Church.”

“His courage in WWI was such that he was even awarded a Victoria Cross.”

Sgt Johnson lived until 1945, but his heroism wasn’t officially marked until 1991 when a tree was planted in his honour in the library gardens on Memorial Avenue. Mr Emsen later campaigned for a plaque to be added as a reminder to passers-by of the soldier’s outstanding bravery.

Sgt Johnson’s story is just one of many documented in the 160 page book, which Mr Emsen said would be useful for residents looking to trace their family history.

“The book is a result of 10 years’ worth of work and I hope it will be a lasting tribute for future generations.”

“The centenary of the outbreak of WWI reminds everyone of the contribution of miners who put and pride and respect into the local community,” Mr Emsen added.

Copies of the book, priced at £14.95, are available on 01909 486824 or from charles.emsen@sky.com