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Unknown soldier

Man-engine disaster 1919

On Monday 20th October 1919 one of the worst accidents in Cornish mining history occurred at Levant, when the man-engine rod broke in the shaft, killing 31 men. At least two of the dead, Leonard Semmens and J. Vingoe Trembath, had fought in the war and the unknown soldier in the photo may have served with them.

Credit: Levant Mine, Pendeen (National Trust)

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On Monday 20th October 1919 one of the worst accidents in Cornish mining history occurred at Levant when the man-engine rod broke in the shaft killing 31 men and seriously injuring another 19. At least two of the dead, Leonard Semmens and J. Vingoe Trembathhad served in the First World War. There is a bitter irony in the fact that they had survived that terrible conflict only to die so close to home shortly after. Both men were 25 and single, and their mothers were listed as their dependents.  They were recorded in the 1911 census as St Just-born 16 and 17 year old tin miners ‘working below ground’.

There are no known photographs of either man, but this image of a man in uniform waiting, with others, for news of the dead and injured after the disaster must serve to represent them and all the others killed on that fateful day.  It is possible that he was a friend of the dead soldiers or had served with them.  Further work by the Cornish Audio Visual Archive (CAVA) may reveal who he is.

Key words: mining

Credit: Levant Mine, Pendeen (National Trust)