THE operation to rescue the 42 miners trapped below ground at Redding Colliery, Stirlingshire, had continued round the clock ever since the flooding of pit number 23 early on Tuesday, September 25, 1923.

Great volumes of water had been extracted from the pit, while determined efforts were made to reach the men. Sightseers flocked to the pit-head. Several relief funds had been established; and three funerals had been held, attended by thousands of people.

Then, at 2.30am on Thursday, October 4, it was announced that five miners had been rescued alive. They were in excellent spirits, despite having lost all track of time and having shared nothing more than a half-slice of bread on the first day, surviving only on water.

“Bring Andy Thomson some Bovril when you come through”, one of the five, John Miller, told the rescue workers as they drilled a hole in the shaft where the five were waiting. After they were brought to the surface, they briefly smoked cigarettes or pipes as doctors examined them. After a few hours’ sleep in the rescue hall they were driven to their homes, where scenes of great emotion greeted them.

It was a “wonderful deliverance from death”, in the words of this newspaper’s special correspondent, though the bodies of four other miners were also recovered.

The five had each written farewell notes to their families while underground. The messages were destroyed once all of the men had been rescued.

The bodies of the remaining miners were retrieved over the next few weeks, and funerals were held (one of the processions is pictured here). In all, 40 miners had perished.

Slamannan-born Robert Horne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said the Redding disaster had touched the sympathies of all people in the English-speaking world.

An official enquiry into the tragedy was held in Glasgow a few months later. When it reported, it made several recommendations for future safety in mines.

Read more: Herald Diary