James Wagenaar EM

b. ? d. ?

DATE OF EM ACTION: 29/10/1913 City Deep Gold Mine, Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Little is known about the life of miner James Wagenaar other than his actions on 29th October 1913 at the City Deep Gold Mine, Witwatersrand, Transvaal, South Africa.



Wagenaar was working in the mine when he was informed by a native that five other natives down a winze, or steep incline, had been overcome by the fumes from explosives used in blasting (the debris brought down had interfered with the ventilation and prevented the dispersion of the gas). Wagenaar, tying a wet cloth round his mouth, immediately descended the winze to the place where the natives were lying in various stages of collapse, and, without assistance, brought out four of them in succession. He proceeded down the winze for the fifth time to bring out the last native, but was unable to carry him up more than a few yards, as he was fast being overcome by the fumes, and had himself to be helped out of the winze. Three men, who subsequently brought out the fifth native, also collapsed from the effects of the gas. It is probable that but for Wagenaar’s brave action all the natives would have succumbed to the effects of the fumes. Wagenaar and the five natives were all in hospital for some days.