Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cornwall Day 39 - Cornish Miners in France

"..we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders' Fields"

I have heard much about the tough Cornish miners who descended deep into the earth to bring forth tin, copper, silver, and gold, among other minerals. But I have only just heard of the part these Cornishmen played during World War 1, not just in the trenches, but beneath them.

Photo and historical credit: The Daily Mail, Tuesday November 10, 2015


One of these, mining engineer Harold Llewellyn Twite, faced the enemy every day in a unique position. When the war broke out, he was working as a mining engineer overseas, but came back home to sign up. He joined the 183rd Tunneling Company of the Royal Engineers. His
expertise was in digging tunnels and sinking shafts, and so he was placed in charge of a team of Cornish miners whose job it became to tunnel beneath the enemy trenches, to lay explosives.   

On December 1, 1915, they had just retreated and were writing their reports, when the enemy detonated a huge mine beneath them. He and 4 of his team were killed, all from Cornwall. Men searched until they found his effects, buried with him beneath the debris of the explosion. Lieutenant Twite's items were sent to his widow, and among them was his shirt, his pipe, binoculars, correspondence, and most significantly, his watch. It was frozen on the stroke of 8:00 p.m., the moment the explosion went off.

These items have remained in an attic since that day nearly 100 years ago, until they were recently unearthed by my host of yesterday, in whose home I have been a guest. I was privileged to hear this story of his grandfather, and to learn of Lieutenant Twite's bravery and death. My host attended the Remembrance Day commemoration near Falmouth on Sunday last, planting this poppy to honor his memory.

December 1 will be the 100th anniversary of this brave man's death. May we each remember Harold Llewellyn Twite, Cornish miner, mining engineer, husband, father, and later grandfather to many. He was killed, it is true. But his family remain, and will continue on. 

He was 36 years old.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them."
Laurence Binyon, 1914

See you along the Way,
The SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/29634157@N07/15572655169">DSC_1927_20141110</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>

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