William John Henry EM

b. 27/10/1875 Whitehaven, Cumberland. d. 16/10/1962 Whitehaven, Cuimberland.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 11/05/1910 Wellington Colliery, Whitehaven, Cumberland.

William was born on 27th October 1875, the eldest of five children born to James and Ann Henry. One of his brothers was George Dockray Henry, who would also be awarded the Edward Medal in the May 1910 fire at Wellington Colliery. William was baptised at St James Church, Whitehaven on 23rd January 1876, and after a basic education, became a miner at the Wellington Colliery, where his father was also employed. In c. 1896 he married Mary Elizabeth Tate in Whitehaven, and theny went on to have at least six children. Sadly his wife passed away relatively young, and by the time of the 1939 England and Wales Register, William was a widower, being cared for by his eldest daughter Mary Jane (now aged 40), and his two youngest children, George and Annie, who were twins born in 1924. William died just short of his 87th birthday on 16th October 1962 and was buried in Whitehaven Cemetery.



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 self-devotion 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 fire. 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.



Ward 6 – Section I – Grave 20 – New Cemetery