A 1992 Canadian Medal of Bravery for the Westray Mine Disaster
A 1992 Canadian Medal of Bravery for the Westray Mine Disaster - (G.W. WHITE). Naming is engraved on the edge. Silver, 36.5 mm, on original ribbon with pinback, near mint. In its hardshelled case, marked "M.B." on the lid, inscribed "Rideau Orders Decorations and Medal Inc., St.-Laurent, Quebec" on the inside lid, recessed medal bed, scuffed exterior, case very fine. Accompanied by his Medal of Bravery Award Document (with a full citation, dated September 8, 1994 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, 330 mm x 430 mm), Rideau Hall Programme entitled "Presentation of the Medal of Bravery to the Rescue Teams of the Westray Mine Disaster" (164 mm x 227 mm, with rope tassel binding), Booklet entitled "Decorations for Bravery" (202 mm x 253 mm), Certificate from Roseanne M. Skoke, Member of Parliament for Central Nova (congratulating White on having been awarded his Medal of Bravery, 216 mm x 279 mm, in a presentation folder with the House of Commons insignia on the front cover), Letter from Lieutenant-General (Retired) James C. Gervais (informing White that the Governor General had awarded him the Medal of Bravery, dated October 7, 1994), Letter from Prime Minister Jean Chretien (congratulating White on having been awarded his Medal of Bravery, dated November 28, 1994), Letter from Preston Manning, Leader of the Reform Party of Canada (congratulating White on having been awarded his Medal of Bravery, dated December 1994), Letter from David C. Dingwall, Minister of Supply and Services (congratulating White on having been awarded his Medal of Bravery, dated November 16, 1994), Letter from Mary Clancy, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (congratulating White on having been awarded his Medal of Bravery, dated January 6, 1995), Letter from Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor J. James Kinley (congratulating White on having been awarded his Medal of Bravery, dated December 6, 1994), Letter from Nova Scotia Premier John Savage (congratulating White on having been awarded his Medal of Bravery, dated November 25, 1994), Document entitled "Speech on the Occasion of the Presentation of Medals of Bravery to the Rescue Teams of the Westray Mine Disaster" (dated Monday, November 28, 1994 at Sharon United Church in Stellarton, Nova Scotia), Christmas Card from Governor General Ramon John "Ray" Hnatyshyn and his wife (dated 1994), Colour Photograph of White (being presented his Medal of Bravery by Governor General Ramon John "Ray" Hnatyshyn, 202 mm x 253 mm, in a presentation folder with the Rideau Hall insignia on the front cover), Book entitled "The Westray Tragedy - A Miner's Story" by Shaun Comish (dated 1993, by Fernwood Publishing of Halifax, black and white, 100 pages), along with assorted mailing envelopes, invitations and research papers. Footnote: Gerry W. White was one of almost two hundred recipients of the Medal of Bravery, awarded by Governor General Ramon John "Ray" Hnatyshyn, on Monday, November 28, 1994 at Sharon St. John United Church in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, recognizing their heroic efforts in trying to locate survivors of the Westray coal mine explosion in May 1992. The Westray coal mine, located in Plymouth, Nova Scotia, was owned and operated by Curragh Resources Incorporated (Curragh Inc.), which obtained both provincial and federal government money to open the mine, and supply local electrical power utilities with coal. It opened in September 1991, but closed eight months later, when it was the site of an underground methane explosion on May 9, 1992, killing all twenty-six miners working underground at the time. The week-long efforts to rescue the miners were widely followed by national media until it was obvious that there would be no survivors. About a week later, the Nova Scotia government ordered a public inquiry, to look into what caused one of Canada's deadliest mining disasters, and published its findings in late 1997. The report stated that the mine was mismanaged, miners' safety was ignored, and poor oversight by government regulations led to the disaster. A criminal case against two mine managers went to trial in the mid-1990s, but ultimately was dropped by the crown in 1998, as it seemed unlikely that a conviction could be attained. Curragh Resources went bankrupt in 1993, partially due to the disaster. One hundred and seventeen miners became unemployed almost immediately after the explosion. They were paid twelve weeks' severance, six years after the mine's closure, but only when the provincial government was pressured to intervene. The mine was dismantled and permanently sealed in November 1998. Most of the recipients of the Medal of Bravery were miners and draegermen. The Citation on White's Medal of Bravery Award Document, dated September 8, 1994 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, reads as follows: "After a massive explosion inside the Westray Coal Mine at Plymouth, Nova Scotia, on May 9, 1992, one hundred and ninety-four men attempted to rescue twenty-six miners trapped underground. For the next five days, rescue teams searched around the clock for survivors. Despite the perilous mixture of highly volatile gases, they repeatedly went underground, beneath a largely unsupported and unstable roof structure. They crawled around twisted pieces of steel that had once been supporting arches, passed machinery that was no longer useful or recognizable, climbed over rockfalls and debris, and waded through brackish water. The teams moved cautiously and silently, fearing that the slightest noise or vibration would cause further rockfalls or explosions. Rescue efforts were finally abandoned after more than a kilometre of the mine had been searched, with no sign of survivors. The rescuers recovered the bodies of fifteen of the twenty-six victims."