John Samuel Mathias EM

b. 1900 Coedffranc, Neath, Wales. d. 4th Q 1937 Swansea, Wales.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 18/03/1935 Queen’s Dock, Swansea, Wales.

John Samuel Mathias was born in 1900 in Coedffranc, near Neath, South Wales, the eldest child of Jonah and Elizabeth (nee Rees). At the time of the 1901 Census, he was living with his parents, at the home of his grandparents, John and Elizabeth Rees in Skewen. Little else is known about his childhood, or early life. In 1927, he married Elsie Stock in Swansea, and became a worker for the National Oil Refineries Company. He was at work at a pumping station at Queen’s Dock, Swansea, when the accident occurred which saw Jack, as he was commonly known, awarded the Edward Medal for Industry. Tragically, Jack died less than two years later, aged just 37.



On the 18th March, 1935 at the pumping station of the National Oil Refineries at Queen’s Dock, Swansea, a workman went down into a drainage chamber connected with pipes through which oil is pumped from ships to storage tanks on shore, and was overcome by fumes. He fell unconscious into oil which had collected to a depth of two feet at the bottom of the chamber. Mathias went down into the chamber without a gas mask and tried to effect a rescue but he had to return to fresh air when on the point of collapse. Mathias recovered sufficiently to go down a second time; but although he was able to catch hold of the unfortunate workman, he was again forced to give up the attempt at rescue because of the poisonous gases in the chamber. Had he been successful, the life of the first workman, whose body was recovered somewhat later, might have been saved. The coroner and jury at the inquest warmly commended Mathias’s bravery.