Dr Charles Joshua Joseph Harris EM

b. 3rd Q 1861 Plymouth, Devon.  d. 3rd Q 1939 Whitehaven, Cumberland.

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

Charles was born in Plymouth, Devon in 1861, and little else is known about his childhood. His parents names are not known, though it is known he had a brother named Sampson. Charles trained as a general practitioner, and by 1891, he was living in Whitehaven, Cumberland, He was running a general practice with his brother, and they had a cook and a servant living in with them. Charles married Joannie, and tbey had a son, Victor Charles Harris, born in 1903. Charles also volunteered his services as the Doctor at the Wellington Colliery, and following the fire on 11th May 1910, he was called upon to help save lives. For his actions he was awarded the Edward Medal. Charles died in 1939, aged 78.



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.