Edgar Hamilton Frazer OBE EM

b. 31/12/1884 Leeds, Yorkshire. d. 09/1955 Manchester.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 20/11/1931 Bentley Colliery, Doncaster, Yorkshire.

Edgar Hamilton was the second of five children born on New Year’s Eve 1884, in the Roundhay area of Leeds, to Edward Lillie and Adelaide Frazer (nee Cooper). His brother Douglas would be killed in action in Belgium in World War I. On 31st August 1912, he married Margaret Dale in Upper Armley, Yorkshire, and they went on to have three children. On 14th January 1921, Edgar was appointed to the role of Senior Inspector of Mines. He was awarded the Edward Medal in Silver for his involvement in the rescue of trapped miners following the Bentley Pit Explosion near Doncaster on 20th November 1931. By 1939, Edgar had moved to Manchester. Edgar died in September 1955 aged 70.



At 5.45 in the afternoon of the 20th November last a violent explosion of firedamp, followed by fires, occurred in the North East District of the Bentley Colliery, Yorkshire. Of some 47 persons working at or near the coal face, 45 were either killed or died later. A large number of persons rendered heroic assistance in the work of rescue; and after careful investigation the eight persons named appear to have displayed special gallantry.

Ward, pony driver, who was near an adjacent part of the coal face, was blown off his feet and enveloped in a thick cloud of dust, but as soon as he recovered himself went on his own initiative towards the face, guiding himself by rails and tubs, and assisted an injured man towards a place of safety. He repeatedly returned towards the face and helped to extricate injured men and bring them away; and he continued at rescue work for three hours, until completely exhausted. His bravery in groping his way towards danger, immediately after being knocked down by the blast, was outstanding. Darker, Soulsby, Sykes and Yates also displayed great gallantry and perseverance in extricating the injured and conveying them to a place of safety. It will be appreciated that the atmosphere was hot and vitiated and that there was evident risk of further explosions. One such explosion actually occurred at 10.30 p.m. injuring members of a rescue party, as mentioned below, and a third explosion occurred later. Allport, Temperley and Frazer were prominently concerned with rescues from the area of the fires, which was explored somewhat later and in which the danger was extreme.

Temperley, an assistant surveyor at the colliery, volunteered to lead a rescue brigade to the return airway, where some men were still alive, by way of the face, there being a fire on the direct route. On the journey an explosion occurred severely burning three members of the party. The party then returned, but Temperley, though not equipped with breathing apparatus, went on, with one of the Mines Inspectors, as far as the entrance to the airway and subsequently helped to carry out an injured man past one of the fires and rendered other help. Allport, a member of the colliery Rescue Team, took a prominent part in the rescue operations, displaying energy, initiative and bravery, and encouraging other rescue men. He was over three hours in breathing apparatus and during part of the night, when his rescue apparatus required replenishing, he assisted in loading men on to stretchers. Subsequently, in answer to a call for volunteers after the second explosion, he seized a breathing apparatus, and joined a rescue party which penetrated past a fire to rescue two other men. Frazer, who is H.M. Divisional Inspector of Mines, explored much of the most dangerous area, displaying great gallantry in venturing among flames, smoke and afterdamp though not provided with a breathing apparatus; on hearing moaning in the return airway he ran back to summon a rescue party, but returned to the airway without waiting for them. He subsequently remained in the most dangerous area assisting to organise rescue operations and helped to take out past a fire two men rescued from the airway; and although exhausted he continued his efforts, until all the men, dead or alive, who were reported to be in the district had been extricated.