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WW1 Coal Mines


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#1 Phil_B

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 01:02 PM

I`ve just watched a TV programme about Bevin Boys in WW2. The demand for coal must have been equally high or higher in WW1 so how was the manpower maintained when recruitment in coalmining areas was so fruitful? Was the provision of mining labour quite different in WW1 to WW2?

#2 Graham Stewart

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 01:59 PM

In one word "yes". The difference being there was no "reserved occupation" scheme regarding mineworkers during the early part of the Great War and I believe the problem wasn't resolved until 1916. The Durham coalfield for instance had that many men enlist during 1914/15, that most mines had to reduce their shift systems from three to two, as most of the mines were left being manned by old men and boys. Nor were enlisted miners returned to their work once it was found there was a manpower shortage and they remained enlisted until possibly wounded or sick in which case they were returned to their former occupations.

It seems to have been a lesson learned and during WWII, the UK Government placed "coalmining" high on the list of reserved occupations, my own Grandfather being one of those, who volunteering to enlist into the Army in 1939 was refused permission to enlist and returned to minework. The exceptions being men on the Army Reserve and Territorials who were mobilised.

Local newspapers in mining areas are a good source of information as to the situation within the industry, if you wish to make a more detailed study.

#3 Stephen Nulty

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 02:57 PM

I recall reading in a local newspaper of the time that whilst, as Graham says, the "reserved occupation" concept didn't exist, an employer could make an application for his workers to be exempt from conscripiton.

Anybody know more about this?

#4 Stephen Nulty

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 03:06 PM

Interesting extract from The Times, 10th March 1916


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