b. ? d. ?
DATE OF EM ACTION: 01/06/1930 Cilely Colliery, Tonyrefail, Glamorgan.
Little is known about the life of collier, Alwyn Lewis, other than his actions on 1st June 1930 at the Cilely Colliery in Tonyrefail, Glamorganshire.
On Sunday the 1st June, 1930, about 12 noon Herbert Clarke, surveyor, and Thomas William Rees, fireman, went down the Cilely Colliery, Tonyrefail, Glamorganshire, for the purpose of making a survey. As they had not returned by 5 p.m. the banksman descended the pit to look for them and after searching for some time found that the men had been entombed by a fall in the workings about 16 feet in length and about 12 feet in height.
The alarm was given by the banksman and at about 6.30 p.m. rescue operations were begun by Henry Davies, overman, Thomas Harding and William R. Evans, firemen, and Alwyn Lewis, collier. They tried to remove the debris, but were unable to continue as the timbers supporting the lip of the cavity began to collapse. Temporary supports were erected and a second attempt at clearing the fall was made under the supervision of the Under-manager. This resulted in a second fall in which Henry Davies and William Evans narrowly escaped injury, and the attempt had to be abandoned.
It was then decided to drive a small tunnel, by means of piles, through the fall and at 9.45 p.m. the rescuers were joined by Wyndham Evans, overman, and Evan Rosser, fireman. At midnight Henry Davies and William Evans, who were exhausted, were persuaded to retire. Harding, who was a night official, also had to leave to perform his normal duties of inspection and the work was carried on by Lewis, Wyndham Evans and Rosser under the supervision of the Under-manager. Water was conveyed to the entombed men by means of a 1-inch pipe and at 2.30 a.m. Rosser was able to pass some warm stimulants through the tunnel. From this time the place became very uneasy and the pressure on the supports in the tunnel was so terrific that a collapse appeared imminent. At 3.30 a.m. the tunnel was completed and Rosser got through to the entombed men. Wyndham Evans got hold of Clarke from Rosser and a human chain was formed and Clarke was drawn out through the tunnel. Rees was then rescued in the same way, Rosser being the last to come through the tunnel. He had scarcely got clear when the tunnel closed in and became completely impassable.
The time occupied by the rescue was about 9 hours. Of the rescue party, Lewis was there throughout and Rosser and Wyndham Evans for the last 5¾ hours. All the men who took part in the rescue behaved with conspicuous bravery and incurred considerable risks; but the men exposed to the greatest danger were those who worked in the hastily-constructed lightly-timbered tunnel through loose material and under constantly increasing pressure. This risk increased progressively as the tunnel reached completion and Rosser, Lewis and Wyndham Evans (who worked in relays) were in constant danger, of being buried by the total collapse of the passage.’
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD. SOLD AT DNW IN MARCH 2011 FOR £3,100.
Dix Noonan Webb – Image of Alwyn Lewis Edward Medal.