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Author Topic: Supreme Bravery at Tilmanstone Colliery  (Read 3274 times)

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Offline Islesy

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Supreme Bravery at Tilmanstone Colliery
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2010, 21:48:00 »
The Edward Medal is a British civilian decoration which was instituted by Royal Warrant on 13 July 1907 to recognise acts of bravery of miners and quarrymen in endangering their lives to rescue their fellow workers. The circular medal was divided in two grades: first class (silver) and second class (bronze), and was suspended from a ribbon 1 3/8" wide and coloured dark blue and edged with yellow.
The cost of the Edward Medal (Mines) was borne by a fund established by a group of philanthropists (including prominent mine owners) and not the state. Awarded only 395 times (77 silver and 318 bronze), the Edward Medal was one of the rarest British gallantry awards. Only posthumous awards were made after 1949, and it was discontinued in 1971 when surviving recipients of the Edward Medal (along with holders of the Albert Medal) were invited to exchange their award for the George Cross. Nine (2 silver, 7 bronze) elected not to exchange their medals.

Only once has one been awarded in the Kent Coalfield; a Bronze, to Sydney William Padfield following an accident at Tilmanstone Colliery on February 27, 1931. This is his story:

At around 4:00pm on February 27, 1931 two young miners, William Gazard and Frederick Crofts, were waiting in a junction on an auxiliary haulage roadway at Tilmanstone Colliery for a train of empty tubs to pass. As the train came down, the front tub derailed, crashing into the iron girders supporting the roof, and knocking five of them down. Part of the roof collapsed, and William Gazard was trapped by a falling girder.
Frederick Crofts, who was unhurt, called for help and Sydney Padfield and some colleagues ran to the spot and started to remove the rock debris. As they were about to commence shoring up the tunnel, they heard a cry from Gazard, indicating that he was being suffocated.
Squeezing under the girder and down amongst the fallen rock, Padfield raised Gazzard's face from the loose dirt.
With just two props above him preventing a further fall, Padfield stayed with Gazzard, keeping his head supported whilst he cleared the area beneath his face. Despite a further two roof falls, other miners propped up a large stone and the girder trapping Gazzard with bricks, until 30 minutes later they could release him, it transpired that Gazzard had dislocated his spine in the fall.
Padfield was awarded his medal by the King on June 1, 1931

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