John Edward Samuels EM

b. 28/11/1896 Wrexham, North Wales.  d. 11/1969 Wrexham, Wales.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 22/09/1934 Gresford Colliery, near Wrexham.

John E Samuels EM

John Edward was the fourth of ten children born to Edward and Elizabeth Samuels (nee Brannan). He was born in Wrexham, North Wales on 28th November 1896. His mother died when he was 17, when John was already working down the mines as a coal cutting machine man. In 1920 he married Eleanor Pountney in Wrexham, but sadly the marriage was shortlived, when Eleanor passed away suddenly. In 1924, he married for a second time to Margaret Williams in Wrexham, and they had a son, John Junior. Little else is known about John’s life following the award of the Edward Medal, except that he remained in the Wrexham area and later became a locomotive fireman. He died in November 1969 aged 72, being laid to rest on what would have been his 73rd birthday.



The sole survivors of those working underground were six men, of whom Samuels, a coal-cutting machineman, was one. They had been working at the time in what was known as No. 29’s District. The effect of the explosion was to close the normal means of access to this section of the mine and thereby to cut off those working there, but it seemed to a group of men who had got together that a way out might be found along a little used road which served as a return airway. This hope proved in the end to be justified but the survivors had to fight their way for nearly half a mile through an atmosphere so laden with gas that at an early stage some of the party turned back to seek some other way out, only to meet their deaths. The worst place proved to be at a point where the road crossed a fault and it was necessary for a ladder to be climbed in order to reach the upper level. At various points, members of the party fell behind and the temptation to leave them to their fate must have been very strong.

Throughout Samuels took a leading part in encouraging members of the party, in advising as to what should be done or attempted, and in giving other help, staying behind to render assistance at a time when any delay in escaping was fraught with grave danger. The Chief Inspector of Mines, in the Report just published on the explosion, states that Samuels summed up the position and displayed qualities of leadership in a most terrifying situation, and there seems to be no doubt that some at least of the party owe their lives to his coolness and courage.



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