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Wartime miners' memorial

A memorial is to be dedicated to thousands of men, known as the Bevin Boys, who worked in British coal mines during the Second World War. The memorial at the National Arboretum, Staffordshire, is designed by Harry Parkes, a former Bevin Boy.

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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.

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