Oswald George Simmonds EM

b. 27/04/1908 Newport, Monmouthshire. d. 17/03/1967 Lydney, Gloucestershire.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 30/06/1949 Arthur and Edward Colliery, Forest of Dean.

Oswald George was born on 27th April 1908 in Newport, Monmouthshire. Little is known of his early life before he became a miner in the Forest of Dean. He married Evelyn Maud Baldwin in 1939, and they had four children (though their first born twins died as infants). Little is known about his life after the award of the Edward Medal. His wife pre-deceased him, aged 53, in 1963, and Oswald spent his final years living in Hucclecote, Gloucestershire. He died on 17th March 1967 aged 58 and was buried at St John the Baptist Church, Ruardean.



On the 30th’ June, 1949, the Arthur and Edward Colliery, Forest of Dean, was flooded by a sudden inrush of water. Evacuation of the mine was ordered as soon as the water broke in, and the escape of the men who were underground was greatly helped by Frank Bradley, a man of 63, who took charge of the manriding trolleys which ran up and down the long, steep main road leading to the shaft, and helped the escaping men to travel swiftly over part of their road to safety. After many men had been helped in this way another official advised Bradley to escape at once, telling him that the rising flood would soon cut off the main shaft. Bradley, however, refused to leave the pit, saying that some of his men were still underground. He thereupon, walked back into the inner working of the mine: At this point it should be emphasised that Bradley acted deliberately and without rashness, although he knew that once, he was cut off from the main shaft he would have to stay below ground for a long time and that he might never reach the surface again. As an official of the mine he must have known also that blackdamp (carbon dioxide) was given off in the mine and that the stopping of ventilation by the flood made accumulations of this suffocating gas likely. He must also have known that there was an incalculable danger to be expected from the disturbance to roof supports caused by the flood. While Bradley was helping with the evacuation another official of the mine, Oswald George Simmonds was showing great calmness in the face of danger. He went round his district ordering his men out of the pit and telling them how to reach the main shaft safely through the flooding roads. When he was himself about to leave he heard that two men, one old and feeble, were still left in the workings. He immediately returned to help them. When he found them, they were with a third man, Thomas George Manwaring, who had voluntarily stayed back to help them. Simmonds and Manwaring, helping and sometimes carrying the old men along with them, made their way towards the main shaft, meeting ‘Bradley on the way. At the first opportunity they telephoned to the surface and were told that the flood cut them off completely from the main, shaft, but that they might be able to reach a second shaft through the workings of the mine. Bradley, Simmonds and Manwaring set off, taking with them the other’ two men, of whoni one was practically exhausted. The way to the second shaft was very hard, and the air in places very bad. The men had in some places to wade through torrents of water, and in others had to clamber over falls of ground. They never, however, abandoned their weaker comrades, one of whom at times was so exhausted that he had to be pushed along in a truck. Eventually, after spending nearly seven hours underground struggling through the flooded mine, the party reached the second shaft and were hauled to safety.