CASSERLY- Death of a Hero

On the 6th October 1938, at the Edwards Find Gold Mine near Southern Cross, an elderly miner called Frank Pagoda was overcome by dynamite fumes. His mate, Paul Casserly, made several attempts to rescue him, sustaining a fracture of the skull in his attempts which eventually claimed his life on the 12th October 1938. He was awarded a posthumous Humane Society award as well as another man, Thomas Liversedge, who also attempted to rescue the two men and survived.

Although stories or bravery and daring abound in the Goldfields of yesteryear, this particular accident so captured the notice of the public, that famous journalist and poet penned the following verse. He writes about the bravery of Casserly and of mateship to the end.

LIFE’S TRAGIC SIDE    –    His Life for his Friend

Paul Casserly age 35, who, made an heroic attenlpt to rescue Frank Pagoda, aged 68, from the gas-filled winze at Edward’s Find, near Marvel Loch, West Australia, died in the Southern Cross Hospital seven days later without regaining consciousness. Casserly, who voluntarily went down the mine, fell twice from the bucket which was hauling him and Pagoda to safety, and was seriously injured. He is survived by a widow and two children!

Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), Sunday 16 October 1938, page 11


CASSERLY-Miner and Mate  by Dryblower Murphy

Died a hero, after two brave attempts to save his mate, Frank Pagoda, of Marvel Loch, Paul Casserly.

He sneered not at death in a fellow man’s eyes.
To show how far war he was willing,
He plucked off no souvenir button to prize
And prove his “man’s” share in the killing.
“Mercy Kamarad!” no lips had pleaded to him,
For the fraulien and kinder behind,
Nor watched he the dead eyes of Fritzie grow dim
Till fate drew its merciful blind.
He kicked no corpse over to rest in a rut
Where the shell-waggons rumble and rattle.
And the shrapnel’s loud screech and the Lewis’s phut
Make the symphony bars of the battle.
In a gas-sodden crevice came death-haunting grief
Where points the bone finger of fate,
But here shall be carved in an epitaph brief
“CASSERLY, MINER AND MATE.”

Victoria Crosses adorn many breast,
But the battlefield never gave one
That so splendidly shine on humanitys crests
As the deeds that in peace-time are done.
Not where war-banners wave, not where gun-muzzles growl.
Not where trumpets and bugles out blare.
Not where gunpowder fogs the clear sky befoul,
All heroes are doing their share.
Where the rock-drills are ringing, where living reeks spill
To the muffled explosion below;
A thousand hell-devils all saturnine sit,
Where the mole masses gather and go.
Patient and plodding a pittance he drew,
Unsung by the grasping and great,
Just one of God’s Heroes who ne’er a foe slew,
“CASSERLY, MINER AND MATE.”

Crosses there be in this wonderful world
For valor, for that and for this,
Crosses made holy, chaste and unpearled,
That kings were contented to kiss,
But earth has not yielded a more precious one
That should high in the humble home hang
Of this hero of peace who his duty has done
Where the rock-drillers clatter and clang.
Of true living gold should be hammered this Cross,
lt matters not colour nor weight.
Beside it all others would be as dull dross
“CASSERLY, MINER AND MATE.”

Paul Casserly Headstone - Southern Cross.

Paul Casserly Headstone – Southern Cross Cemetery

Southern Cross Times 15 Oct 1938

Southern Cross Times 15 Oct 1938

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My name is Moya Sharp, I live in Kalgoorlie Western Australia and have worked most of my adult life in the history/museum industry. I have been passionate about history for as long as I can remember and in particular the history of my adopted home the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia. Through my website I am committed to providing as many records and photographs free to any one who is interested in the family and local history of the region.

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