Ernest William Oswald EM

b. ? 1887 Cockermouth, Cumberland. d. 26/03/1930 Asansol, Bengal, India. 

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

Ernest William was born in 1887 in Cockermouth, Cumberland, the second of three children born to Robert and Mary Oswald. He was working as a shiftman at the time of the terrible fire at Wellington Pit, Whitehaven, but later became a mining surveyor. He became a Freemason, and in 1919, he emigrated to India. He died in Asansol, Bengal on 26th March 1930, aged 43.



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.