On 12 September I had the pleasure of unveiling a plaque dedication to Joseph Davies who saved a fellow miner’s life in Bendigo during the Gold rush in 1909. Joseph is buried at the Brighton General Cemetery. Prior to the unveiling of the plaque his grave was unmarked, referred to simply as site 109. Thankfully this has now been rectified and Joseph’s name is now visible at the cemetery alongside other heroes such as Sir John Monash.
.Joseph saved the life of his co-worker Jack Allan who fell 52 feet down a mineshaft that had just been freshly laid with explosives. Jack landed right of top of the charges and immediately lost consciousness. Joseph descended down the shaft without a moments delay, unsure whether his friend was dead or alive.
Joseph, knowing the direction rocks would fall, dragged his injured comrade to the safest corner of the shaft and lay over him to shield him from the impending explosions. Jack Allan was subsequently haled back to the surface suffering only a broken ankle while Joseph thankfully emerged unscathed.
For his selfless act of bravery Joseph was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s Clarke Golf Medal for 1909, the Department of Mines Certificate for Bravery and Presence of Mind and the King Edward Medal for Bravery in Mines. Several of Joseph’s awards are now held by the Bendigo Historical Society along with congratulatory letters that were sent to Joseph.