By this time there were 400 men employed clearing the debris and relaying the rails. These men were able to work without apparatus, as the air was quite fresh in all roads up to the stoppings after unsealing of the pits. These men were thoroughly skilled in the repair of the roadways, and the timbering of same, and let me add they were quite anxious to get back 'into collar' again after 7 months of walking the streets. Not them for the 'Dole' any longer than they could help.
The Rescue Men wearing their gear were to advance through stopping 'H' after a new airlock had been built. The airlock to be made of two doors properly bricked in the roadway directly in front of stopping 'H' and in fresh air. When a Team passed through the first door and closed it, the second could then be opened and the Team were again in the 'danger zone'. Rails had to be advanced and 'bars' set in the roof for support, and falls to clear. We advanced along the 'Martin Return Airway', 300 yards in this manner, and to a point where it was considered the second advance should be stopped and the ground 'won' consolidated. Framework erected and 'brattice cloth' covering, was sufficient for this and when completed the number of workmen could be increased to clear up the mess. Next stopping was one in advance of the big stopping 'F' on the 'Dennis Dip'. This was also to be of brattice cloth stopping. Of course only temporary as the first ones had not been taken down yet. Stoppings were also put up the 'slit' from the ' Martin Road' and the little 'slant' also on '20's Road', the last where we knew that one of the first rescue teams was still laying. However the stopping was erected 200 yards from where the body lay. On the little 'slant' a heavy sandbag stopped was built, and by means of these various stoppings and the airlock we have moved 300 yards down the 'Dennis Deep' and not had to alter or make a road through the big stopping 'F' and we can travel by way of the 'Martin Return' and out back on the ' Dennis Deep Road'.
What of all that water which had gone down the pit? We could see no travel of water here. It had all been absorbed by dry strata. All of it seemed to have gone down by way of 'headings'.
The conditions of the 'Dennis Deep' along the distance we had travelled was exactly in the same condition as when we left it on the 23 rd September 1934.
There was very little change, and it would appear that those later explosions had not touched the area where the first explosion had happened, and that the other districts in the pit were the ones to suffer in the later explosions.
I have read and heard broadcasts on the wireless, that the bodies of the victims would be left submerged in the water that had gone down the pit during those seven months. It is a great mistake that such statements should be made. Nobody can say that this is the case for certain. Not only is the statement conjecture, but what of the harm such a statement would make on the relatives? What would the poor relatives think? It is enough to know that their loved ones are still down that fateful pit, without the added horror that they are floating up and down the district. None are in the position to know as much as the Rescue Men and none of them believe that the water is near those bodies. It is of no use to surmise that so and so happened, and I propose to leave to a later time this matter. By then probably other such silly ideas will have been broadcast.
On 2 nd May all stoppings were again completed and we were ready to advance a further 300 yards, All the original stoppings were to be taken down and those just erected were to do the same duty, that of holding the fresh air on one side and the gas on the other.
Suddenly and without any warning a halt was called. All recovery work is suspended until the 'Dennis Shaft' which suffered in the later explosions, was made safe, so that in case of accident to the 'Martin Shaft' or winding engines, there would be a second means of egress out of the pit. We were told that we should be wanted back there in a week's time to further advance the stoppings, to get to the bodies and if possible to find the cause of the original explosion. We were informed that on the Tuesday following the Jubilee celebrations we should be again going forward. None of us wanted it, but we had stood up to the work up to this time and it was up to us to go ahead to find the cause and if possible to get those bodies. What has happened we do not know. For some reason or other the Rescue Operations have been suspended and we do not start after the Jubilee celebrations. Was all hope of recovery of those bodies abandoned? Why such a change of plan? Surely the least they could have done was to tell us that no further attempt was to be made to reach those bodies. We were told nothing and of course were constantly expecting the call to come to restart the recovery operations.