William Henry Lee EM

b. ?  d. ?

DATE OF EM ACTION: 31/10/1923 Benzole Works, Cardiff, Wales.

Very little is known about the life of William Henry Lee, a labourer at the Benzole Works, in Cardiff, Wales, other than his actions which led to the award of the Edward Medal.



On October 31st, 1923, while three men were engaged on the cleaning of a tank at the premises of the National Benzol Company at Cardiff they were overcome by the benzol fumes. One of them who was near a manhole managed to escape, but the other two men were rendered unconscious. The manager of the depot, Mr. Roberts, first attempted a rescue, but both he and another workman named Simpson were forced to withdraw overcome by the fumes. Lee then attempted to effect a rescue and entered the tank no less than five times, coming out for short intervals to inhale fresh air. He eventually succeeded in placing a rope round the unconscious men and they were hauled out of the tank.

The rescuers from their previous experience were all well aware of the great risk they ran in entering the tank without a gas mask or life line and hazarded their lives. Lee, in particular, showed calm courage and indomitable perseverance in entering the tank again and again, and undoubtedly saved the life of one of the rescued men. The other, unfortunately, did not recover consciousness.