George Gaunt EM

b. ?  d. ?

DATE OF EM ACTION: 07/01/1927 Greenwich, London.

Nothing has been traced about the life of George Gaunt, employed as a foreman for J E Thomas Foundation Ltd, when he was awarded the Edward Medal for his part in a rescue in Greenwich on 7th January 1927.



On 7th January, 1927, a shaft 20 feet in diameter and 50 feet deep, was being sunk at Greenwich. Six men, including George Thorpe, were working at the bottom of the shaft under compressed air when an explosion occurred which blew off the top of the shaft and caused a heavy fall of timber and concrete. At the same time the water which before the explosion was held back by the compressed air, rapidly invaded the shaft. When the accident occurred, George Thorpe was partially sheltered from the falling material, but was rendered unconscious for a short time by the concussion. On regaining consciousness, he heard the cry of a companion, Martyn, who was pinned under fallen timber. Despite the fact that he was dazed by the explosion, and by the sudden release of air pressure, he left his shelter and held Martyn’s head above the water until reseue came, prefering so to risk his life rather than to seek safety by climbing out of the shaft. He was all the time exposed to falling material and the water was rapidly flooding the shaft. As soon as the explosion occurred, Gaunt, a foreman, Taylor and Perkins at once sought means to descend the shaft and finally, by improvising a ladder 40 feet long, reached the bottom. They succeeded in freeing Martyn and bringing him and Thorpe to the surface, lurther descents were made in a vain search for the other four workers who were held down by wreckage and were submerged in the rising water. Martyn subsequently died from his injuries.

During the time they were engaged on the work of rescue debris was continually falling. and as the cause of the disaster was unknown so was it unknown whether the first explosion would not be followed by a second. They started rescue operations with great promptitude and embarked on a highly perilous enterprise in a calm and intelligent manner, with a total disregard for their own safety.