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Life as a Bevan Boy

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posted on 2024-06-05, 18:59 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Gordon Ernest Mitchell and his friend Ernie Bosdet received their notice to report for duty beginning on 24 April 1945 from the Ministry of Labour and National Service. They were to report to the Lady Windsor Colliery at Pontypridd. "We were now Bevan Boys". They were conscripted under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts 1939 to 1940 in which males could be conscripted to work in the mines, instead of the armed forces. Gordon says "Lady Windsor colliery was situated in a valley at Ynysybwl, several miles from Pontypridd and at the time employed about 1150 men". They were accomodated in Nissen huts close to Pontypridd, and "accommodation and food, including sandwiches to take with us down the mine, cost 30 shillings a week...but then our wages for a five day week was only five pound - not much for such hard and dangerous work."

"It was a novel experience to clip an acid battery onto my belt and a headlamp onto my helmet, enter the cage and descend some 2000 feet underground." Initially, Gordon helped an elderly collier named Ned using a pit pony and dram to repair any wooden posts supporting the roof in the older parts of the mine. "He was an experienced axeman and taught me quite a bit in the short time that I spent with him." From here, Gordon was moved into the dust suppression area. Most of the miners worked in seams of coal six-foot and nine-foot high. They used pneumatic drills and then shovelled the coal on to a moving conveyor where it was emptied into the wagons used to haul the coal out from the coal face. This generated a considerable amount of dust. "My job was to come along the coalface and drill a hole into which I could inject water under pressure. This was not always popular with the miners since it could cause a collapse under certain conditions. But at least it did help to reduce the enormous amount of dust."

Gordon continued to work at Lady Windsor colliery until 20 March 1948, so well after the Second World War ended. It was many years later that Gordon was made aware that a Bevan Boys association existed and that there were Bevan Boys medals which could be purchased. We still have his Bevan Boy medal in the family.


Item list and details

1) Mining group at Lady Windsor colliery pithead, 1944 2) Group near Pontypridd at miner's hostel 3) Lady Windsor colliery 4) Group of miners 5) Recreation 6) Grade Card 7) Certificate of Registration 8) National Coal Board pay docket 9) National Service paper page 1 10) National Service paper page 2 11) Post war credit certificate 12) Bevan Boy badge award

Person the story/items relate to

Gordon Ernest Mitchell

Person who shared the story/items

Fiona Cannon

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

He was my father

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID