b. 07/01/1870 Carlisle, Cumberland. d. 14/08/1924 Whitehaven, Cumberland.
DATE OF EM ACTION: 11/05/1910 Wellington Colliery, Whitehaven, Cumberland.
John Thomas was the eldest of six children born to John and Mary Mather (nee Eltringham). One of his younger brothers Allison was also awarded the Edward Medal alongside him at Wellington Colliery in May 1910. He was born on 7th January 1870 in Carlisle, and was baptised on the 10th September at Christ Church. In 1894 he married Susanna Martha O’Neil in Whitehaven, where his occupation was as a coal miner. By the time of the incident at Wellington Colliery in 1910, John and Susanna had three children, John (born 1895), Ann (born 1898), and Josephine (born 1909). Shortly after the disaster, their fourth child, Thomas was born. John continued to work at the pit following the disaster and throughout WWI, where his age and his protected occupation prevented him enlisting. John died on 14th August 1924, and was buried in Whitehaven Cemetery on 19th August.
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 5 Section C Grave 91
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.