Samuel Hughff EM

b. 25/08/1906 Gateshead, Durham.  d. 22/03/1955 Durham.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 17/05/1929 South Garesfield Colliery, Durham.

Samuel was born on 25th August 1906 in Gateshead, the eldest of four children, born to William and Mary Hughff (nee Embleton). Samuel grew up in the Sheriff Hill area of Gateshead, and his father served in the Great War. Samuel became a hewer at the South Garesfield Colliery, and was involved in the incident at the pit on 17th May 1929, which led to the award of four Edward Medals. In 1931, Samuel married Amelia Mason, and they had a daughter Pamela. By the time of the 1939 England and Wales Register, he and his family were living in Stanley, County Durham, and Samuel’s employment was now as a coal and stone drifter. Following his retirement from the mines, he became the owner of the Red Lion Hotel in Dipton. He was survived by his wife Amelia who inherited the sum of £541.



On Friday, 17th May, 1929, about 4.30 p.m., a telephone message was received at the office of the South Garesfield Colliery, Durham, that Richard Lowes, one of the Colliery deputies, had been injured during blasting operations. Robert Glendenning, an overman, 55 years of age, who was in the office, at once set off. down the pit and, collecting two lads, James Sidney Purvis and John Thomas Baker, at the bottom of the shaft, and a tram and stretcher, went in search of Lowes. They were joined by two hewers, John Kenny and Samuel Hughff.

Meanwhile, five other men had been trying to rescue Lowes. Four of them were overcome by carbon monoxide gas, while the fifth managed to crawl out just in time. It was on meeting this man some quarter of a mile from the scene of the accident that Glendenning realised the serious nature of the occurrence. He hurriedly organised his party and, by repeated efforts, they succeeded in extricating the five men who had been gassed. They were fortunately able to save the lives of two but the other three were found to be dead.

The rescue party took such precautions as were possible at the time but first Kenny and then Hughff were rendered unconscious. After they had, with difficulty, been removed from the danger area Glendenning sent Purvis for further help and continued the rescue work with the assistance of Baker. Baker was next overcome, and Glendenning was also affected by the fumes, but he continued his efforts until, when further help had arrived, he was able to bring out the last of the victims of the accident. He then collapsed and had to be carried out from the pit.

For an hour, during the whole of which time the atmosphere was thick with smoke and carbon monoxide gas, Glendenning showed great courage and resource and displayed high qualities of organisation in directing the rescue operations. He himself and Baker, Hughff, Kenny and Purvis under his leadership, knowingly and repeatedly risked their lives in determined and sustained efforts to save the lives of their fellows, and there is no doubt that, but for their courageous action the death roll would have been heavier than it was.