Nostalgia: Memorial means Bevin Boys can now stand tall

READER HS Taylor got in touch after the unveiling of a memorial to the forgotten heroes who worked in coal mines during the second world war was unveiled.

“Today we saw a national memorial to the Bevin Boys unveiled,” wrote Mr Taylor, of Farnhurst Road, Barnham.

“Will John Moore of Fishbourne be remembered locally? He lost his life in the Workington mine disaster at the end of the war. Will his name now be added to Chichester’s war memorial?

“I might have become a Bevin Boy, had I not already been serving in the Merchant Navy. My next elder brother was a Bevin Boy – being discharged before his age group was demobilised, he was called up again and served as a lieutenant in the Royal Leicestershire Regiment, serving in Eritrea.”

On Tuesday, May 7, the Countess of Wessex dedicated a memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to those men who were conscripted to work as miners while others fought, which led many people to assume they were cowards.

Former Bevin Boy Harry Parkes, from Nottinghamshire, campaigned for official acknowledgement for decades and said the dedication had given the Bevin Boys ‘back our dignity that says we served our country’.

“It’s given the Bevin Boys the right to stand tall and say I was a Bevin Boy,” said Mr Parkes.

n Were you a Bevin Boy? Do you have memories from the second world war you would like to share? Email vintage@chiobserver.co.uk or write to Ellie Evans at the Chichester Observer, Unicorn House, Eastgate Square, Chichester, PO19 1JN.