These truly are unsung heroes.
Many like my father have now passed on, with little recognition by anybody at all really.
For those unfamiliar you can read their story here:
Men like my father instead of being conscripted into the Army, RAF, or Navy for the forces in World War 2, were sent down into the coal mines to extract coal for the war effort, for the factories.
These were young men sent far from their families to work underground in appalling conditions. They had no uniform or badge, no recognition and were treated with distrust, suspicion and the occasional insult.
They had no choice. It was the luck of the conscription ballot. It was mine coal or go to prison.
Associations were formed. But it’s only 50 years later that they received some recognition in the form of a lapel badge (no expense spared by HM Gov!, not even a proper medal). I have my father’s badge, and to be honest I think it’s an insult to those that sacrificed so much. But at least it is something.
Only recently were surviving Bevin Boys allowed to participate in the Remembrance Day marches.
My father was a self contained, quiet and resolute man – but not a pushover. He once told me about some of the things that happened down the mines – it was horrific.
In our cotton wool packed cosseted lives, we forget so easily the hardships that previous generations suffered for our benefit. They did what they had to do, to enable the freedoms that we now enjoy.
We forget their sacrifices at our peril.
Rest in Peace Dad, and thank you.