John Barnard EM

b. ?  d. ?

DATE OF EM ACTION: 25/09/1919 Wesselton Mine, Kimberley, South Africa.

Little is known about John and his brother Isaac who were both awarded the Edward Medal in Silver for their mine rescue in 1919.



On the 25th September 1919, a great rush of mud occurred at the Wesselton Mine, Kimberley. The rush came from two places, forty-five feet apart, and filled up two of the passes for a distance of about a hundred feet. At first it was thought that all the workershad escaped; but, on inquiries being made, it was found that fourteen natives were missing. It is customary after a mud rush to leave the mud alone for two or three days before attempting to clear it away but, as men were missing, clearing operations were started at once and after twenty-four hours’ work sounds were heard which indicated that someone was alive in the mud. It was decided to try to reach the imprisoned men over the top of the mud, which was intensely hot, and the two Barnards, when a passage had been partly cleared, volunteered to make the attempt. The temperature inside the tunnel was stifling ; but, with the aid of an air-hose, the Barnards managed to get forward a considerable distance. The manager of the mine considered that the heat was unbearable, and shouted to the Barnards to come back ; but they declined to return, and eventually succeeded in getting through. They found two natives still alive, and managed to get them out, while they themselves followed the natives, but both suffered severely from the effects of the intense heat, and, after crawling out with great difficulty, were unable to walk without assistance. It was not until three days later that the bodies of the other twelve natives were recovered, and the two men rescued undoubtedly owed their lives to the action of the Barnards, who showed the greatest bravery and determination. Had another rush of mud occurred, the two brothers would have lost their lives, and as they were well aware of this possibility, their action was a very fine one.