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b. 01/1879 Whitehaven, Cumberland. d. 11/02/1928 Haig Colliery, Whitehaven, Cumberland.
DATE OF EM ACTION: 11/05/1910 Wellington Colliery, Whitehaven, Cumberland.
Hugh was the eldest of three children born to Edward and Martha Ann McKenzie (nee McConnell). His father was a miner at the Wellington Colliery in Whitehaven, and from a young age, Hugh and his two younger brothers, Edward and William followed in their father's footsteps and worked in the mines. In 1902, Hugh married Ann Lewthwaite, and they would have three sons and a daughter. Hugh was awarded the Edward Medal as well as his father and brother Edward for their part in the 1910 fire at Wellington Colliery. Hugh later changed employment and became a deputy at Haig Colliery, also in Whitehaven. Tragically, Hugh was killed in a mining accident on 11th February 1928, aged 49. His body was not recovered from the mine.
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: BODY NOT RECOVERED.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD. SOLD AT AUCTION IN 2015.