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Who are the Bevin Boys?

  • When Britain declared war in 1939, thousands of experienced miners left the mines to join the armed services or transfer to higher-paid "war industries".
  • By the summer of 1943 more than 36,000 men had left the coal industry and the Government decided it needed around 40,000 men to take their places.
  • Labour and National Service Minister Ernest Bevin devised a scheme whereby a ballot put a proportion of conscripts into the collieries rather than the armed services.
  • Alongside the ballotees were also men who volunteered for service in the coal mines rather than military.
  • Between 1943 and 1948, 48,000 young men were conscripted for National Service Employment in British coal mines - they were known as the Bevin Boys.
  • It is thought around 5,000 miners lost their lives during the war.

Memorial unveiling at Arboretum for WW2 coal miners

A memorial dedicated to the men who worked in coal mines in the Second World War will be officially unveiled today at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.

The memorial is for the 48,000 young men – called the Bevin Boys – who carried out the dangerous work.

The Bevin Boys marching past the Cenotaph during the Remembrance Day Service in 1998 Credit: PA