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b. 05/1854 New House, Cumberland. d. 16/12/1924 Whitehaven, Cumberland.
DATE OF EM ACTION: 11/05/1910 Wellington Colliery, Whitehaven, Cumberland.
Edward was the eldest of nine children born to Hugh and Margaret McKenzie (nee Farrell). His father hailed from Wigtown, Lanarkshire, Scotland, and moved south to obtain employment in the mines, where he met local girl, Margaret. Edward followed in his father's footsteps and became a miner at Wellington Colliery. In the winter of 1878, he married Martha Ann McConnell in Whitehaven, and they had three sons, Hugh, Edward and William. His sons followed him down the mines, and in the terrible fire of 11th May 1910, both Edward and two of his sons, Edward junior and Hugh, were awarded the Edward Medal for their actions. Edward senior died on 16th December 1924 in Whitehaven, and was buried in Whitehaven Cemetery. His wife was buried with him on her death five years later.
On the 11th May, 1910, a terrible fire occurred in the Wellington Pit, Whitehaven, at a point about 4,500 yards from the shafts. Various rescue parties, with great courage and self-devotion and at considerable risk, descended the mine and endeavoured to extinguish the fire and penetrate to the persons in the workings beyond the same. Thorne and Littlewood, fitted with breathing apparatus, reached within a distance of 150 yards of the fire, but were driven back by the great heat and effusion of gases. The others got to within about 300 yards of the fire, working in the smoke backing from the fire. It was found impossible to penetrate to the scene of the fire or to rescue any of the entombed miners.
Had an explosion occurred — a by no means unlikely eventuality, seeing that the mine is a very gassy one — they would undoubtedly all have been killed.
Special gallantry was shown by John Henry Thorne, to whom the Edward Medal of the First Class has already been awarded, and by James Littlewood.
BURIAL LOCATION: WHITEHAVEN CEMETERY, WHITEHAVEN, CUMBERLAND.
Ward 6 - Section B - Grave 8 - New Cemetery
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.