b. ? 1860 Whitehaven, Cumberland. d. 13/12/1927 Whitehaven, Cumberland.
DATE OF EM ACTION: 11/05/1910 Whitehaven, Cumberland.
James was born in 1860 in Whitehaven, Cumberland, the second of nine children of John and Mary Knox. His father was a miner, and from a young age, James followed him and his elder brother, also called John, into the pits. James became a shiftman at the Wellington Colliery, and was part of the terrible fire which occurred on 11th May 1910 which led to numerous awards of the Edward Medal. James never married and continued to live with his parents in Whitehaven. He moved to the Haig Pit which was close to the Wellington Pit. James was then involved in another mine rescue on 5th September 1922 where he distinguished himself. Tragically, James was killed in a mining accident at the same pit on 13th December 1927, aged 67.
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.
BURIAL LOCATION: WHITEHAVEN CEMETERY, WHITEHAVEN, CUMBERLAND.
WARD 6 SECTION A GRAVE 6.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.