Thomas “Toya” Lewis AM

b. ? 1893  d. 04/1969 Llandaff, Wales.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 02/07/1909 Newport, South Wales.

Thomas “Toya” Lewis AM

Thomas was born in circa 1893 in South Wales, and worked in the docks of Newport as a boy. The AM was presented to him by King Edward VII on 13th December 1909. After the incident he was sent to Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland for an apprenticeship, but he soon returned to Wales. He then joined the Special Reserve in order to later join the Army. He changed his mind and stayed in employment. On the outbreak of WWI, he enlisted with the Royal Welch Fusiliers and served throughout on the Western Front.



Soon after 5 P.M. on Friday, the 2nd July, 1909, a terrible accident occurred at the Alexandra Dock Extension Works, Newport, a heavily timbered trench, 238 feet long and about 50 feet deep and 35 feet wide having suddenly, and without warning, collapsed. The sides fell in and killed between 30 and 40 of the workmen who were ‘engaged in excavating the trench, and seriously injured others. Praiseworthy and determined efforts were immediately made by the workmen and others who happened to be close at hand to rescue the survivors, and these efforts were continued throughout the night. At or about 2 o’clock in the morning a man was discovered alive, his left arm having been caught between the elbow and the wrist, and he could only be reached by means of a small hole between two struts, too small for an ordinary man to go through. ‘ The boy Lewis volunteered to try and’ effect his rescue. He succeeded in getting underneath the man, and worked there for about one and a half to two hours, being eventually successful in releasing the man’s arm. It then became possible to cut away the timber round about the man, and some time later he was extricated alive. There is no doubt that, but for the work which Lewis performed, the man could not have been rescued from his perilous position. While Lewis was among the timbers, from 10 to 12 feet below the surface, he was in imminent peril of losing his life, for the ground was slipping and settling and the debris moving. It appeared as if at any moment he might have been crushed by a further’ subsidence.