b. 1868 Parton, Cumberland. d. 06/02/1945 Whitehaven, Cumberland.
DATE OF EM ACTION: 11/05/1910 Whitehaven, Cumberland.
Samuel was the sixth of seven children of John and Sarah Birnie andd by the age of 13, he was already working down the mines, living at 10 Bransty Villas, in the Preston Quarter of Parton, Cumberland. In 1891 he married Elizabeth Dunn, and they had just had their tenth child in 1911. He died in 1945, aged 77.
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 selfdevotion 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 tire. 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 E, GRAVE 224.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.