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In Memory World War I and World War II


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Michael Glover - Lives of the First World War - 1918 Mini Pit Disaster
Michael Glover - "Miners" is a poem by Wilfred Owen - He wrote the poem in direct response to the Minnie Pit Disaster in which 156 miners died.
Alicky Sussman - Looking For Info About The Day To Day Life Of The Coal Miners During The War

In MemoryMichael Glover
1 Jan 2018
Lives of the First World War - 1918 Mini Pit Disaster
Hya Fionn,

Christmas in Spain is smaller and quieter where we are, other than the fireworks.  This town shares a mining interest too, outside the Big church is an underground coal truck sitting on tracks with a hammer and sickle emblem on it.  Last year we remembered 1936 here.  The AABI produced a calendar for 2017 with the lives of women who came from afar to help out in the civil war and then they returned to WW2, some dying in the concentration camps.  I am translating it to English and it could be published in the UK for fund raising purposes.

Below is a release for the Minnie remembrance, two A4 sheets and a pre-amble for the Imperial War Museum Lives Project.

The young people in the big school close to the pithead are adopting names for the lost so my next bit of work could be getting the Head to agree to them adding their stories to the relevant life on the Lives pages.

Of course if you could circulate the comment below that would be great.

Mick Glover, fraternal regards.

The Minnie Pit Disaster January 12th 1918

The Minnie Pit Disaster was the result of an explosion, it happened on Saturday 12th January 1918. In total 156 men and boys from the Audley Parish were killed in the disaster just 10 months before the end of the Great War. If a family member wasn’t killed in the trenches in Europe, they were killed in the coal seams below their village. It took 18 months to retrieve all the bodies and the event was marked by a Memorial Service in Audley Churchyard on Sunday August 31st 1919 which was attended by over 3,000 people.

The Minnie Pit Disaster January 12th 1918. 13/09/2016 BBC WW1 AT HOME, RESEARCH MINNIE PIT, MINE SAFETY AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR MAY 14, 2014 AHRCWW1 Roger Deeks uncovers the history of coal mining during the First World War.

For much of the First World War, the coal mines of North Staffordshire contributed to the thousands of tonnes of coal produced to power the navy, railways, homes and munitions factories during the War. It was a highly dangerous occupation for the men sic [and boys as the older young men went to war] who mined in the pits. Many of the original Staffordshire miners had enlisted early in the War, sometimes at the instigation of the owners.

Many were to become members of the Tunnelling Companies of the Royal Engineers. The exploits of the early tunnellers and their charismatic commander Sir John Norton-Griffiths who laid massive mines under the Western Front are well documented. The Staffordshire mines they left behind were set to make a vital but much less well-known contribution to the hazardous business of tunnelling.

… A pathetic find saddened the rescue squad as they arrived in Slant’s dip. Father and son, George and Jabez Burgess lay side by side as if asleep. The son had his arm around his father’s neck, while the father’s head reclined on his son’s shoulder. Placing them on stretchers and covering their faces with clean sacks, the squad carried them to transfer points, where they could be taken to the surface. …

Thanks to John Lumsdon, mine rescue expert and social researcher.

North Staffordshire, United Kingdom

In MemoryMichael Glover
15 Jul 2016
Lives of the First World War - 1918 Mini Pit Disaster
Hello Fionn.

Hope all is well with you and that your work continues.

My name is Mick Glover, and I was born close to Halmer End, 2 family members died in those terrible conditions in 1918 in the Mini Pit disaster.


ElectricityI have been putting life histories on the Imperial War Museum pages, family, friends and people who lived nearby who took part in the military side of this awful event? It was always my plan to put my great grandfather, George Burgess, aged 42 killed in the Mini, and his son Jabez William, aged 20, on the pages. Their bodies were found in an embrace, waiting to lose consciousness or to be rescued.

The IWM are showing an interest in putting the complete list of the 156 lost on their pages under a special civilian category. The Mini was an accident waiting to happen even more so given the added pressure of WW1 war time coal production, a link I never fully appreciated until recent years.

I sent in the names and they will be added to the category so anyone with data can then confirm what they know about friends, family members or other information.

Save CoalYou seem to have youth on your side compared to most of the trade unionists and political agents I grew up with, but their voices live on in their written accounts, so the story is well known but it's association with WW1 less so.

So I hope this gets to you.

If you could reply that would be great.

Yours sincerely,

Mick Glover

Sent from my iPad

This is a breakthrough, miners who died or worked in the mines and survived during WW1 will now be renamed as the Other Empire Force and
The Regiment is - The Coal Industry and
The Rank of the miner is - Coal Mine Worker

Whow! If you understand the process from IWM get other miners added not just those from the Minnie. Who knows may get a campaign medal for them all.

But of course this is only with the IWM.

Wait until the Minnie page is up and running and try to set up another community page, £50-00, with whatever name fits about other miners. I think you will be chased by Yvonne for more data, or you could go to her directly and see if the same applies for other events, not just the Minnie.

Read below where they are thinking of a WW1 poetry day which includes Wilfred Owen's tribute to the lost in the Minnie.

Anyway she has got the ball rolling.

Mick Glover

In Responce to an email sent by Sarah Portlock from the BBC

I am a direct descendant of George Burgess aged 40 and his son Jabez William Burgess, 21, they died of gassing, in the Minnie Pit Disaster January 12th 1918, alongside 154 others, including 40 under the age of 16 and one mine rescue worker in an expected explosion. I published these lives on my community pages of the Imperial War Museum 1914/18 remembrance project Lives of the First World War. This was a special national recognition of the role miners and other industrial production workers played in the first industrial war. It was coal that powered this war, coal production was the front line and nowhere was the loss of life greater than that in Audley District, January 12th 1918. Of significance is the poem Miners, by Wilfred Owen, THE war poet. One of five published before he was shot in 1918. John Lumsdon is the expert on the event, he worked as a mine safety officer, but now, aged about 90+ is a well respected social history researcher on coal production in north Staffordshire.

Michael Glover
16 Jul 2016
Miners (poem) - Expand Your Mind
ElectricityDear Fionn.

I "found" this yesterday.

Wilfred Owen wrote it as he received news of the terrible event at the Minni shortly before his death after he returned to the front line. It is important to note Owen published it with 3 others before he went back to the front and to his death.

The poem was a surprise to me. I have not heard of it anywhere, in any of the Mini Disaster literature.  But the poem reinforces the link between coal production and WW1.

It is important to note Owen published it with 3 others before he went back to the front and to his death.

So much was the strength of his feelings. And in the verse he relates mining directly to the men and boys in the trenches. About 1915 'boys' of sixteen could no longer join up and go to war, the age was raised to 19 I think, this was a result the public outcry when they were killed.

Not so for the boys in the Mini and elsewhere, there was loss of life at the Mini in 1915, as you will know, and they knew it was only a matter of time before it happened again.

Yours sincerely,

Mick Glover

This Article Comes From The Website Revolvy

The Poem - Background

Wilfred Owen"Miners" is a poem by Wilfred Owen. He wrote the poem in Scarborough in January 1918, a few weeks after leaving Craiglockhart War Hospital where he had been recovering from shell-shock. Owen wrote the poem in direct response to the Minnie Pit Disaster in which 156 miners died.

After his discharge from Craiglockhart and a short spell of leave, Owen rejoined his army unit (the 3/5th battalion the Manchester Regiment) in Scarborough. While his men were stationed at Burniston Road Barracks a mile north-west of the town, Owen and other officers were billeted in the Clarence Gardens (now the Clifton) Hotel; Owen was the mess secretary. Owen had a unique room in the hotel: he occupied the five-windowed turret on the 5th floor, directly overlooking the sea.

He wrote Miners in under an hour in response to the Minnie Pit Disaster of 12 January 1918 in which 156 men and boys lost their lives as a result of a firedamp explosion, including 40 pit-lads under 16. Owen was unusually well-acquainted (for someone with a grammar school education) with working-class miner types. Aged nineteen, he had met a Northumberland pit-lad who made a particular impression on him at a nonconformist convention in Keswick in 1912. Also, many of the men in his platoon had worked down the Lancashire pits before the war: in 1916, Owen had described his men as "hard-handed, hard-headed miners, dogged, loutish, ugly. (But I would trust them to advance under fire and to hold their trench;) blond, coarse, ungainly, strong, 'unfatiguable', unlovely, Lancashire soldiers, Saxons to the bone.

FossilIn addition Owen was a keen geologist who had collected rocks and minerals since his youth, and in Miners he uses phrases like "smothered ferns" and "frond-forests", redolent of the imprints of fossil plants in coal.

The opening stanzas evoke the poet gazing into the fire imagining a primeval forest older than myth, "before the fauns". But his traumatic experiences on the Western Front intrude on his somewhat romantic meditation: "Wrote a poem on the Colliery Disaster: but I get mixed up with the War at the end. It is short, but oh! sour." The gently hissing coals recall the moans of the dying miners "writhing for air"; and Owen intertwines their death with that of soldiers at the front, imagining heaps of white bones in the fire's ashes and "muscled bodies charred". Yet in the future, the centuries will still doze by the fire, its coals themselves formed out of "rich loads", of groans and toil in the dark pits of war. The coming years, preserved in their rooms like insects in amber will be oblivious of the millions of dead lads - soldiers and miners - buried under the earth.

For a projected volume of his work, Owen gave the poem the subtitle:-

How the future will forget the dead in war.

There was a whispering in my hearth,
A sigh of the coal,
Grown wistful of a former earth
It might recall.
I listened for a tale of leaves
And smothered ferns,
Frond-forests, and the low sly lives
Before the fauns.
My fire might show steam-phantoms simmer
From Time's old cauldron,
Before the birds made nests in summer,
Or men had children.
But the coals were murmuring of their mine,
And moans down there
Of boys that slept wry sleep, and men
Writhing for air.
And I saw white bones in the cinder-shard,
Bones without number.
Many the muscled bodies charred,
And few remember.
I thought of all that worked dark pits
Of war, and died
Digging the rock where Death reputes
Peace lies indeed.
Comforted years will sit soft-chaired,
In rooms of amber;
The years will stretch their hands, well-cheered
By our life's ember;
The centuries will burn rich loads
With which we groaned,
Whose warmth shall lull their dreaming lids,
While songs are crooned;
But they will not dream of us poor lads,
Left in the ground.

Owen sent the poem to The Nation in the evening of the day he finished it. The proofs arrived while Owen was preparing to attend Robert Graves' wedding (on 23 January at St. James's Church, Piccadilly).

MCWilfred Edward Salter Owen MC (18 March 1893 – 4 November 1918) was an English poet and soldier, one of the leading poets of the First World War. His shocking, realistic war poetry on the horrors of trenches and gas warfare was heavily influenced by his friend and mentor Siegfried Sassoon, and stood in stark contrast both to the public perception of war at the time and to the confidently patriotic verse written by earlier war poets such as Rupert Brooke. Among his best-known works – most of which were published posthumously – are "Dulce et Decorum est", "Insensibility", "Anthem for Doomed Youth", "Futility" and "Strange Meeting".

Owen was killed in action on 4 November 1918 during the crossing of the Sambre–Oise Canal, exactly one week (almost to the hour) before the signing of the Armistice which ended the war, and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant the day after his death.

He is buried at Ors Communal Cemetery in northern France.

Information from Wikipedia

Michael Glover
23 Sep 2016
National Poetry Day – the story behind a poem | Lives of the First World War Blog

National Poetry Day – the story behind a poem

Hy Fionn.

I see you have enquirers on your pages wanting information on the Minnie.

Do you think you could pass this story onto them and if you wish give them my e-mail address.

Please reply with any ideas you have.

Mick Glover, Burgess family.