War hero’s death by asbestos dust

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A WAR veteran who inhaled large quantities of asbestos dust while working at a Halifax carpet firm died from industrial disease, a coroner has ruled.

An inquest into the death of 75-year-old John Walsh heard how he stuffed a handkerchief into his mouth to protect himself while moving large amounts of the toxic substance during his 23 years at John Crossley Carpets Ltd, Halifax.

Mr Walsh, who died from bronchial pneumonia at Calderdale Royal Hospital on April 23, worked at the firm from 1959 to 1982. He also served in the Royal Navy for three years during World War Two and helped transport wounded soldiers on the beaches of Normandy,

Coroner Roger Whittaker ruled that Mr Walsh’s ability to fight the bronchial pneumonia was weakened by his exposure to asbestos while he worked at Crossley’s. Mr Walsh’s family is currently pursuing damages against the now-defunct company’s insurance firm and their solicitor Dominc Collingwood read out a statement on their behalf.

He said: “Mr Walsh was an elderly chap but his family feel quite upset that his hard work throughout life has ended up shortening it,” said Mr Collingwood.

“He had a very active war and was on the beaches on D-Day picking up the wounded and taking them to hospital ships.”

It is believed that Mr Walsh, who served in the Royal Navy for three years during World War Two, was exposed to asbestos when bosses at Crossley’s told him to move large quantities of it without the use of a protective mask.

Mr Walsh, who lived with his wife in Holmfield, inhaled large quantities of asbestos dust and eventually resorted to placing a handkerchief in his mouth to try and protect himself.

Mr Whittaker recorded a verdict of death by industrial disease.

“I’m satisfied that there is a causal relationship between his exposure to asbestos in the workplace while he was working at Crossley’s and his ability to fight his illness,” he said.

“That leads me to believe that he died from industrial disease.”

The case against Crossley’s was pending when Mr Walsh died.