Dr Andrea Angel EM

b. 09/01/1877 Bradford, Yorkshire.  d. 19/01/1917 Silvertown, London.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 19/01/1917 Silvertown, London.

Dr Andrea Angel EM

Andrea (papers refer to him also as Andreas and Andrew) was born in Bradford on 9th January 1877, the son of Thomas Angel, an Inland Revenue Supervisor, and his wife Angelina, the daughter of St George Stock, a University Lecturer and philosopher. He had an older brother Lorenzo, and younger sister Muriel. His maternal grandfather was an Italian refugee who, after ten years’ imprisonment in northern Italy, on political grounds, escaped to the UK.

He was educated at Exeter School and won an exhibition to Christ Church, Oxford graduating with a First in 1899. He subsequently became an MA in 1903, and was awarded a BSc (today a MSc) “for his brilliant research work”. He then became a Chemistry lecturer at Brasenose and Keble Colleges before returning to Christ Church to run its laboratory as a Tutor and Lecturer in Chemistry.

In 1904 he married Mary Letitia Stock in Headington and they had two daughters. His youngest daughter Heather Grace (born 1909) went on to become a distinguished Hollywood actresss and spent most of her life in California. Andrea volunteered for war work and was recruited near the beginning of the First World War by the Brunner Mond Company to oversee TNT processing.

For the next two and a half years, as the world fought, he was hard at work overseeing the production of TNT at the Brunner Mond factory in London’s Silvertown. In the evening of Friday 19 January 1917, a fire broke out in one of the upper rooms of the factory; realising that there was no stopping the fire, Dr Angel’s priority was to get the workers, largely composed of women and girls, into a place of safety. Fearing that not everyone had managed to escape and knowing that a massive explosion was inevitable, he re-entered the building. At 6.52 pm, a huge explosion ripped

through the factory; reports told of the explosion being heard 100 miles away in Southampton and the fires which came after were seen 30 miles away in Guildford. The explosion was caused by 50 tons of TNT (much of which was loaded onto nearby railway wagons ready to be transported out) being set off by a fire in the ‘melt-pot’ room; many buildings in the immediate location were instantly obliterated. Large, red hot lumps of metal erupted from the explosion spreading the fire for miles around and causing damage to an estimated 60,000 to 70,000

properties. The financial loss from the damage caused amounted to £2,500,000; the human cost was the loss of the lives of 73 people and injuries to a further 400. Had the fire not occurred so late in the day and at the end of the working week, the number of fatalities and injuries would easily have been significantly worse.

Dr Angel was 40 years old when he died; he left a widow, Mary and two young daughters, Marion and Heather. For his bravery, on 24 March 1917, the Edward Medal was accepted by Mary Angel on behalf of her husband from King George V



Also the Edward Medal of the First Class to the representatives of Dr Andrea Angel and Mr. George Wenborne, who lost their lives in endeavouring to save the lives of others on the occasion of a fire which broke out at the Silvertown Chemical Works on the 19th January, 1917, and His Majesty has been graciously pleased to award the King’s Police Medal to the representative of Police Constable George Brown Greenoff, who lost his life on the same occasion.