[Editor: An article about the heroism of Joseph Davis in a mining accident. Published in The Argus, 19 July 1909.]
Back from death.
Rescuer and rescued meet.
A dramatic story.
Bendigo, Sunday. — The heroism displayed by Joseph Davis in connection with the accident at the Goldfields Consolidated Mine has made a deep impression throughout the city and district. Messages of admiration are being showered upon Davis from all quarters. He went to the mine this morning as usual with the intention of commencing work. The manager, Mr. Robert Eddy, however, insisted on his taking a few days’ holiday.
Allen was visited at the hospital by the mine employees and officers and a large number of friends. Davis was amongst the number, and when the two men again met face to face there was an affecting scene.
“I am lucky I am not being buried to-day,” said Allen. “I have only one man to thank that I am not. He is a real hero. You talk about bravery on the battlefield, but nothing can come up to this. I remember slipping, trying to grab the ladder, and then falling. The next thing I remember was being taken into the hospital in the ambulance.”
In falling Allen lost his boots. He was lying senseless across the charged holes when Davis reached him. It is calculated that about three tons of stone were thrown up by the explosion, and mining men are amazed that Davis and Allen were not seriously injured or killed outright by the flying rock. Their escape is to some extent explained by the fact that there was a quantity of loose stone lying on the bottom, which had been dislodged by previous shots.
The shift boss states that when he saw Allen fall back from the ladder down the shaft he exclaimed, “Jack’s gone.” Davis said nothing, but pushing him aside, and almost knocking him over, he put a lighted candle into his mouth and sprang on to the ladderway. He descended the ladders with great rapidity, hand over hand, his feet not touching the rungs. Davis knew that it meant a great deal to get to the bottom before the first shot went off, and he got there a few moments before the explosion. After the first shot had gone off Davis felt about in the darkness to ascertain how Allen had fared. He touched the protruding bone in Allen’s broken leg and exclaimed “My God! his feet are shot off.” Then the second hole exploded. Halliday and the others at the plat called out, but scarcely expected a reply. They were delighted when they heard Davis shout to them to bring down a light. Even then they anticipated to find both men terribly mutilated.
In nearly all the churches on Sunday references were made to the accident, and the heroism of Davis.
Sir John Quick, Postmaster-General, and member for the district, has forwarded congratulatory messages to both men, and has also contributed £2/2/ towards the Davis fund. Mr. W. H. B. Neill, mining investor, has given £1/1/ to the fund.
Davis on Sunday told Mr. Robert Eddy, manager of the mine, that he intended starting work on Monday morning. Mr. Eddy informed him that he would not be allowed below. If he came he would not be required to work underground again, if he could help it.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 19 July 1909, p. 7