Edward McCafferty EM

b. 05/03/1869 Dunfanaghy, County Donegal, Ireland.  d. ? 1936 Fife.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 20/01/1917 Cowdenbeath Colliery, Cowdenbeath, Fife.

Edward was born in Dunfanaghy, County Donegal, Ireland on 5th March 1869, the son of Andrew and Ann McCafferty (nee Doughan). Edward became a farm labourer from an early age before he emigrated to Scotland, and settled in Linlithgow in West Lothian, where he became a miner. Whilst there he married Margaret King, and tbey had 2 sons and 2 daughters. They moved to Denny in Stirlingshire where Margaret died in 1910 aged 45. Soon after her death, Edward moved his family to Cowdenbeath, Fife, where he began work at the colliery which would see him awarded the Edward Medal in 1917. Edward died in Fife in 1936.



On the 20th January, 1917, at about 10 a.m., while operations were being conducted for the widening of a shaft at the Cowdenbeath Colliery, Fife, a portion of the side of the shaft collapsed, throwing a workman named Newton down the mine to a scaffold about 90 feet below.

Scott, McCafferty and Baird at once descended in a large bucket or kettle to attempt a rescue. The whole of the shaft below the point at which the fall had occurred was in a highly dangerous condition: stones and rubbish were continually falling, and there was constant danger of a further collapse. Newton was found, alive and conscious, buried beneath about 12 feet of debris and pinned by some fallen timber. The men worked continuously from 10.45 a.m. until 7 p.m. They were joined at 11 a.m. by Christie, and at 1.30 p.m. by Baird, both of whom remained at work with the others until 7 p.m. During the whole of this period all five men were in serious danger.

At 12.45 Boyle descended in the kettle with two other men. While the kettle was descending a fall occurred, killing one of his companions and injuring another. Boyle drew the kettle to the side of the shaft until the fall was over, and then took the kettle again to the surface. He subsequently remained in charge of the kettle, exposed to constant danger, until 7 p.m.

At 7 p.m., after 9 hours’ continuous and highly dangerous labour, the rescue party was relieved by other men. Unfortunately, Newton died at 8.30 p.m. Attempts to recover his body were then postponed until the shaft could be worked with greater safety.