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Thomas Angwin, Cape Town Highlanders 4 months 3 weeks ago #80576

  • BereniceUK
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From Johannesburg to St. Just.
...."Ten years ago Mr. Thomas Angwin, of St. Just, was one of the miners who escaped from Wheal Owles. On that occasion (Jan. 10th, 1893) twenty of his comrades were drowned through the flooding of the mine. After ten years he has just escaped from Johannesburg—Johannesburg the Golden, the land of gold and death.
....It was difficult to tell which escape is the narrowest, for Mr. Angwin has been in South Africa seven and a half years; he volunteered during the war, and served nearly two years with the Cape Town Highlanders, guarding the line of communications at Modder River, after Lord Methuen's disastrous battle, and Lord Roberts' march up country, and with the Miners' Defence Force at Johannesburg after the capture of Pretoria. But this sturdy St. Just miner has faced a deadlier foe than the Boers, for he worked a gang of about twenty Kaffirs in a close rise at the Salisbury Mine (only about 400 feet deep), and there being neither water to damp down the rock-drill dust, nor respirators to wear, he paid the usual miner's penalty—a visit to the hospital—from which he was sent home by the doctor to live in the sun and try to get the mineral dust out of his lungs.
....On Tuesday, Mr. Angwin, after his long absence, came back to his home in the far west, and the sight even of the mine burrows and mud-banks between Redruth and Camborne was fairer to him than the shores of Maderia or any other alien landscape; while Mount's Bay put the Bay of Naples far into the shade, for he was within sight and sound of the waters which lapped his native land. It was news to him that the motor-car (so familiar at Johannesburg) was to be seen careering wildly on the road to St. Just; but he evidently had a vein of fondness for the old-time busses, for were they not as much a part of St. Just as the Square, or Major White, or any other Public Institution?
....Mr. Angwin told me that he never fired a shot, and never saw a Boer during the whole time he was under arms. He had a good time, except that he had a spell or two in hospital. At Johannesburg he saw Mr Chamberlain, when the Colonial Secretary visited the hospitals.
....Mr. Angwin was surprised to hear that if the war had ended sooner Major White would have popped in upon the St. Just boys at Johannesburg; and that even now the genial manager and purser of Levant (under whom he worked after the Wheal Owles disaster) has not quite given up the hope of a holiday in South Africa.
....The air of St. Just is, perhaps, too strong and searching for returned South African Cornishmen during the winter season, if lung mischief has already begun, but I hope Mr. Angwin will enjoy many a sun-bath on the southern benches until he regains his former health. The homeward voyage has already done him much good."
The Cornishman, Thursday 19th February 1903

The next mention of him that I've found so far was in the press coverage of the Levant mine disaster, at Pendeen, Cornwall, on the 20th October, 1919, when 31 miners were killed. Thomas Angwin, of 12, Regent Terrace, St Just, gave evidence at the inquest that he had been employed as a shaftsman on the Levant mine "for 16 or 17 years," which would fit in with his return from South Africa, "Timber and debris fell until I was buried. I was buried under the timber about a quarter of an hour, when Gilbert Semmens assisted me out. We stayed together on the sollar, where we remained for six hours, when we were rescued."

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