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Wartime and the Blitz

Bevin Boys

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DBC
Nottinghamshire
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1 of 3  Mon 16th Mar 2015 11:34am  
Member: Joined Apr 2010  Total posts:170

I am currently reading a fascinating book “Called Up, Sent Down” by Tom Hickman. This is the story of the Bevin Boys, those young men who were enlisted into the coal mining industry, instead of into the armed forces during WW2. Coventry gets a couple of mentions, not always putting it in a favourable light. At the start of this scheme in late 1943 the aim was to increase the number of miners by 20,000. Unfortunately the whole thing was hurried through without making adequate provision to house and feed all these young men. One of the training pits was at Haunchwood, Nuneaton and some of the early recruits had to be housed in Coventry. Unfortunately some of these men found themselves in the Salvation Army Hostel (or “Sally Doss House” as it was called) housed in a closed-down maternity hospital, which I presume, was in Gulson Road. By all accounts this was a terrible place, unheated, infested with cockroaches, and with an outbreak of scabies which they had to have treated at the hospital next door. If they didn’t report to the canteen by 6.30 they even lost their breakfast. Not a good introduction to the hard life they were about to face. I recommend this book to everyone who wants to know about this little known aspect of National Service.
Wartime and the Blitz - Bevin Boys
Midland Red
Cherwell
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2 of 3  Mon 16th Mar 2015 11:41am  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:4662

Bevin Boys Memorial at The National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas Thumbs up
Wartime and the Blitz - Bevin Boys
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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3 of 3  Fri 5th May 2017 3:14pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1899

I believe Coventry was the first city to host a batch of Bevin Boys in late 1943 or early 44 I had a choice of the Army or be a Bevin Boy - this first batch in Coventry had no choice, down the pit or prison, hence my interest. Like for the Army these boys were given a railway warrant and to report at a destination. If I remember correctly, this batch had to report to the Labour Exchange in Coventry. There were press there and a lot of coverage of the scheme. There was a lot of opposition to the scheme, the government had called up too many miners and now had to train new boys. Also people got the wrong impression, some people thought they were boys that did not want to fight. From the Labour Exchange they were then marched to the Salvation Army doss-house. The boys, about a hundred of them, were picked up about 7 am and taken to Haunchwood Colliery for a time. I think they were then sent to different collieries until the end of the war. The Bevin Boys had a raw deal - they should not be forgotten.
Wartime and the Blitz - Bevin Boys

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