Henry Butterfield EM

b. 23/04/1876 Pontypridd, Wales.  d. 3rd Quarter 1946 Bridgend, Wales.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 10/07/1928 Ponthenry Colliery, Carmarthenshire.

Henry was born near Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales, the eldest son of William and Hannah Butterfield. From a young age, Henry followed his father into the coal mines. Henry eventually became a fireman based at the Ponthenry Colliery in Carmarthenshire. He married Margaret and they settled in Pontardawe, Glamorgan. Henry died in Bridgend in 1946, aged 70.



An outburst of fire damp and small coal occurred in the main slant at the Ponthenry Colliery, Carmarthenshire, on the morning of July 10th, 1928. Butterfield, who was a fireman at the mine, heard the outburst and saw men running. He steadied them and at once started a pump to improve the ventilation, and on being informed that there were men lying unconscious in the main slant, he, followed by some of the others, went to their rescue. After he had proceeded a short way the air became so bad that his oil safety lamp would not remain alight, and he had to use an electric lamp. On reaching the main slant he found six men, of whom four were unconscious and one semi-conscious and struggling. These men were then assisted to the surface. Butterfield then continued down the main slant where in a side road he found two men who were still conscious and a little further on three more who were unconscious. Assistance was summoned and the injured were taken to the surface. By this time Butterfield had himself been severely affected by the gas. Similar sudden outbursts had occurred in these workings previously, several with fatal results, and Butterfield as a fireman would know what the danger was and the importance of prompt action. After doing what little he could quickly to reduce the danger, he at once took the lead in the rescue operations, and his action in exposing himself to the effects of the foul atmosphere in order to ascertain whether it was possible to retain consciousness and carry out the work of rescue encouraged others to follow him in order to render assistance in removing the injured. Two of his helpers were themselves overcome. There is no doubt that Butterfield knowingly endangered his life in order to save the lives of his comrades. Unfortunately two of those who were rescued subsequently died.