Mining during Wartime
Much of World War One was fought from trenches. Miners used their skills and experience of underground work to build complex systems of tunnels, running from the trenches to positions underneath the enemy lines. They placed explosives to blow up the enemy. Miners made good soldiers as they were used to hard work, danger and strict regulations.
Men who joined together from a workplace or area could serve in 'Pals Batallions'. Men who were friends worked well as a team. This sadly meant high casualties for mining communities who gave their lives to save others.
With the outbreak of World War Two, demand for coal grew. In 1941 the Essential Work order was made to stop men leaving mining. The Order was resented by miners who wanted to enlist. In 1943, Ernest Bevin, the Minister of Labour and National Service, introduced complusory recruitment of labour into the mines. These conscripts were called 'Bevin Boys'. After the war, many felt their contribution was forgotten when the armed services were remembered.
In 2013 a memorial to the Bevin Boys was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
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