Newcastle

Report on the Bevin Boys

In November by popular request, Joan Congleton repeated her talk originally given to the Coffee morning.
Jean Southwell has written this report.

Miner On 8th November, Joan Congleton repeated her interesting talk on
The Bevin Boys.

Early in World War II, it was realized that more coal was needed to fuel the factories making armaments. In 1943, Ernest Bevin introduced the policy whereby 10% of all new recruits to the Services should become miners.
On joining up, the young men, usually eager to fight for their country, were subjected to a balloting system. At regular intervals in the Ministry of Labour and National Service, a number of 0-9 was randomly selected. Any new recruit with this figure at the end of his registration number had to become a ‘Bevin Boy’ and work in a coal mine.
This was compulsory and NOT negotiable.

The role of the Bevin Boys was movingly described by Ron Leach, a former Bevin Boy

BEVIN BOYS

Some men helped to win the war

But never marched in lines.

A desperate Government made new laws

To send men down the mines.

Into the pits these men were sent

(Although prepared to fight!)

A conscripted force of ten per cent

To work where day was night.

From any job in any street

To pit work they did go.

Instead of work and marching feet

Their ‘enemy’ was below.

The Bevin Boys were disbanded in 1948 Digging but their essential contribution to fighting the war remained unrecognised until June 2007 even though they had no choice.