Adam McKee EM

b. 01/1869 Whitehaven, Cumberland. d. 30/01/1934 Chapleau, Ontario.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 11/05/1910 Wellington Colliery, Whitehaven, Cumberland.

Adam was born in the early months of 1869 in Whitehaven, Cumberland, the son of Robert and Betsy McKee (nee Miles). His father passed away when he was just 9, and his mother was left to raise the children alone. From a young age, Adam became a coal miner to support his family. In the summer of 1887, he married Ellen Gribben in Whitehaven, and they had eight children, the last in 1910, just after the Wellington Colliery accident which led to the award of his Edward Medal. Following the death of his mother in 1912, Adam chose to emigrate with his family to Canada, and they settled in Sudbury, Ontario. Adam died on 30th January 1934, aged 65.



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.