I READ with interest the experience of a former Bevin Boy, Harry Schofield (City edition, November 2)
I am sure he would have been very proud to have received his medal in 2008 and take part in the Remembrance Day parade in London but we should never forget the miners who were already working in the mines at the outbreak of war in 1939. They did not have a choice either.
I remember as a young boy, my father showing me some photographs of him and his mates in uniform with an army truck. I think he said it was taken on Heath Common.
The story goes that when he and his pals went to join up the officer interviewing them asked them where they worked. “Walton Colliery”, they replied. “So, you are all miners?” he asked. They told him yes and he told them all to get back to Walton Colliery because the country needed the coal. He also told them that if they wanted to be soldiers they could join the home guard when they were off duty.
It would have been a daunting task for the Bevin Boys, some only 17 years-old and some coming from parts of the country where they didn’t know what a coal mine was, but they would have been put with experienced miners to show them what to do and some of these colliers, like my father, started at the pit when they were 14.