Geoffrey Fletcher EM

b. 10/02/1888 Hannover Square, London. d. 18/02/1940 Blackpool, Lancashire.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 02/01/1920 West Elliot Colliery, New Tredegar, Monmouthshire.

Geoffrey Fletcher EM

Jeffrey Fletcher, forename also sometimes spelt Geoffrey, was born on 10th February 1888 in Hannover Square, London, the son of William and Augusta Fletcher, he was baptised that same year on 2nd September in Kensington. By 1911 he had moved from London to Monmouthshire in Wales, and was boarding with William and Ann Sarah Jones and their three children and two other male lodgers at 31 Duffryn Terrace in New Tredegar, near to the West Elliot Colliery, where he was employed as a hewer, and therefore employed coal cutting from the face. The colliery was owned by the Powell Duffryn Company.

On 29th January 1917 he married Florrie Bolingbrook at the parish church of St. Peter in Blaina, Tredegar, and continued to live at 31 Duffryn Terrace. His wife, was a weaver, and was originally from Shipley in West Yorkshire. Owing to his important work in the collieries, he was not conscripted for war service. He and his wife subsequently moved to 12 Jubilee Road in New Tredegar where he was at residing at the time of the incident that led to his award of the Edward Medal for Gallantry in Mines 1st Class in Silver.

On 2nd January 1920 a colliery repairer, a maintenance man, by the name of Hugh Jones, was buried by a fall of coal debris while working on clearing an underground air shaft at the West Elliot Colliery, New Tredegar, Wales. His work mate, Jeffery Fletcher, swiftly gathered a small group of men to try to rescue him.

Fletcher became one of only 77 recipient’s of the Edward Medal for Gallantry for Mines 1st Class in Silver. In all 395 awards of the Edward Medal for Gallantry in Mines were awarded, 318 being the 2nd Class in Bronze. Only 31 Edward Medal’s for Gallantry in Mines 1st Class in Silver were awarded during the reign of King George V, of which just four were awarded for gallantry within Wales. The Edward Medal was discontinued in 1971, when surviving recipients of the Edward Medal were invited to exchange their award for the George Cross.

On 20th July 1921 at Buckingham Palace, the Duke of York on behalf of The King, bestowed on Fletcher the Edward Medal in Silver, King George V being unable to attend as he was attending the funeral of the 94 year old ex-Empress Eugenie of France, the widow of Napoleon III, who had died during a visit to Madrid.

In addition to the official award, Fletcher’s rescue was also reported to the Carnegie Hero Trust Fund on 21st July 1920 by R.F. Reynard of the Home Office at Whitehall. In the minutes of the CHF’s Executive meeting held in January 1921, it was noted that Fletcher had already been awarded the Edward Medal by The King, and a Gold Watch by the owners of the Colliery. In his personal particulars is was noted that “Fletcher is a married man with no family, and is in good circumstances, his wage a present being £8 of £9 per week”. The minutes go on to say “it was agreed to recommend that the rescuer be awarded an aneroid barometer or other scientific instrument that he may select up to the value of £20”. The minutes close with the comment that “it was intimated that the rescuer desired that the Trustees’ award might take the form of a clock” and “the Trustees agreed to accede to Fletchers request”. The minutes were then approved.Fletcher subsequently left mining and he moved with his wife to Lancashire, where he eventually became a poultry dresser, and lodged at 95 Lytham Road in Blackpool. There he was as of 1939. He died in Blackpool on 18th February 1940. His wife passed away in 1961, and they never had children.



On January 2nd, 1920, a repairer named Jones was engaged on work in an air pit at the West Elliot Colliery in Monmouthshire when a fall of rubbish occurred and Jones found himself entirely buried and tightly pinned down, though able to breathe owing to the looseness of the earth. His son, who was near by, heard his father’s shouts and hurried for help. Fletcher, with other men, arrived on the scene, and for nearly three hours, in spite of the possibility of a further big fall, proceeded gradually to uncover Jones to below the shoulders and by cheerful talk braced him up considerably. No foundation could be obtained to put in supports to the rubbish which was constantly moving. Further falls occurred, and Jones was again buried up to the neck. After many attempts, lasting over a further three hours, during which time Fletcher fed Jones with stimulants, he found it possible to release the latter, and rescued him practically uninjured. Fletcher was in the hole for about five hours, during which time he ran the risk of being buried by falls from the loose rubbish coming from above. He showed great initiative, coolness and bravery while he himself was exposed to very great danger.