The Launceston and Hobart Express - A Fearful Accident

From L.J. Villiers "The War On The Workers" pp. 24-25.

Sydney Morning Herald 17 February 1916
But last week also there was a crowning deed of individual valor performed on a railway line in Tasmania. The Launceston and Hobart express met with a fearful accident One of those catastrophes that seem to visit the works of men with unexplained cause and inexplicable severity.

Driver Goodchild was in charge of the engine. He noticed that the accident had very seriously impaired the boiler of his locomotive, so much so as to make a boiler explosion imminent, and so turn an already fearful accident into an inferno of death and devastation a thousandfold worse.

Shaken and bruised as he had been in the accident, Driver Goodchild made no delay. He knew that every moment was precious. If the great force of steam were not relieved from the strained plates that held it yet in check, an explosion would ensue that would be greater than the burst of the mines of marine war. Climbing to the stranded engine, he turned on a valve to let a great rush of steam escape. To do so he had to take a position that brought the steam over himself.

But what of that? The explosion was prevented. He was scalded to the last inch of skin upon his body, to linger on for a few hours in excruciating agony. He need not have touched that valve. Personally, he was safe. He could have gone away to immunity. Being already hurt, it was perfectly feasible for him to have done so. He was not driven by the pangs of remorse to commit a culminating deed of bravery that would condone a great fault. So far as is known, he had not committed a fault. The accident was not of his making. And his deed was not one impulsed by the strong rush of blood that overpowers the sense of men where comrades fall and a foe is rushing on. It was no do-or-die deed that was done by that valorous Tasmanian enginedriver. It was do and die. Die after suffering voluntary torture of almost incredible pains. Is not that action, that deed of sacrifice by a grime-stained worker, a supreme illustration of the greatness of heart that actuates our men to duty-simple duty, not conventional array? Truly, peace hath her victories, and as truly she has her valors. Was not that deed of valor worthy to stand as the climax of courage and sacrifice? One man, acting in the quiet calmness of full knowledge, and with complete sense of the awfulness he was bringing upon himself, climbed unhesitatingly, simply to do his duty.

However we applaud our medallioned brothers, the sons and comrades of Australian workers, this deed of Driver Goodchild's stands as an example of unparalleled courage even in the days when valor is a tribute cast indiscriminately everywhere.

February 24. 1916.


The Mercury Wednesday 16 February 1916
All those who knew anything about it were most loud in their praise of the splendid conduct of Driver Goodchild.  When the engine turned over he had a  most marvellous escape from being crushed. He succeeded in crawling through a narrow space clear of the cab,  and immediately realising what might
happen should the boiler burst he ran back in the midst of the escaping steam with the object of shutting it off. To do this he had to stand in a scalding cloud of steam, which inflicted fearful scalds all over his body. In spite of this he achieved his object.

On being rescued he bore his agony with wonderful fortitude, every moment enquiring anxiously of the passengers, especially the women. To the man who was aiding him in the midst of his pain, he said, "Any man who can't stand pain is a cur; I can stand it." When the doctor arrived he urged him almost in tears to leave him and attend to the passengers.

Driver Goodchild has been in the service of the Railway Department for nearly 30 years.

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