Alexander Walter Abbey was killed at Regato, Bilbao, Spain, on December 31st, 1924 [aged 33]. Whilst proceeding to his duties on the Luchana Company’s Mine at Arnabal, he was shot by a timekeeper employed by the same company.
He was born on May 18th, 1891, at St. Petersburg, Russia, and was educated there. In October, 1909, he entered for the mining course at the Royal School of Mines, South Kensington, where he remained until December, 1911. Early in 1912 he was engaged for six months in practical mining at the South Crofty Mine in Cornwall, and in July of that year he was appointed assistant engineer at Rio Tinto, Spain, and worked on that mine until the outbreak of war.
In September, 1914, he joined the New Zealand Forces, and served in Gallipoli, where he won the D.C.M. In 1916 he was gazetted to the Royal Engineers as 2nd Lieut. At the close of the war he held the rank of 1st Lieut., R.E., and on January 1st, 1919, he was awarded the Military Cross.
On demobilization he returned to Rio Tinto, but was compelled through ill health to resign his position after seven months’ work. In July, 1920, he was appointed mining engineer to the Luchana Mining Company and continued in this position until his death.
He was extremely popular both with his associates and with the workmen, and his assassination is attributed to insanity, as there was no apparent motive for the crime and his assailant committed suicide immediately after shooting him. Mr Abbey was admitted to Studentship of the Institution in 1920, and was transferred to Associateship in 1922.
Alexander had finished his shift and gone home for his evening meal, which his wife was preparing. One of the mine workers arrived at the house to alert him that the workers were planning a strike and would he try to sort things out?
Alexander immediately mounted up – on his white horse – and rode back to the mine, where he was met by a delegation of workers. It was while he was negotiating with them that he was shot. The first his wife knew that something was amiss was when the horse arrived home, minus Alexander.