Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Aberfan survivor recalls the day his life was saved

Philip Thomas Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

"I felt something hit me. I put my hand up over my head... I just woke up in total black".

– Philip Thomas

Alive. 10-year-old Philip Thomas was alive. He was seriously injured but, unlike so many of his classmates, he'd escaped the full force of the disaster at Pantglas Junior School.

Robert my friend owed some dinner money and the Headmistress asked would I go with him on an errand down to pick the money off his sister, down in the senior school.

We could hear a rumbling noise then like a train, bulldozer, then it was stones... We started to run. I felt something hit me. I put my hands up over my head and next thing I woke up in darkness.

– Philip Thomas
Philip was just 10-years-old when the disaster happpened Credit: Philip Thomas

Philip lost three fingers, ruptured his spleen and fractured his pelvis when 150,000 tonnes of coal mining slurry hit Pantglas Junior School. He had serious head and leg injuries, and needed surgery to reattach his ear.

But he'd survived, when so many of his friends had perished.

Rescue workers forming a chain to move debris to reach the children trapped in Pantglas Junior School Credit: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

When we got to the hospital, and they took me in and I had long trousers on in the school... And I only had the belt was left.

They were washing me down then and I could hear them saying 'he's bleeding' so they said 'stop washing him' cos the muck and the coal had formed another skin over my body which stopped me bleeding.

I remember then my mother eventually found me.

– Philip Thomas
  • ITV Wales will be marking the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster with a special programme tonight on Wales at Six, at 6pm on ITV Cymru Wales.

More on this story