Bevin Boys

With the outbreak of World War II, the demand for tin grew.

As more men were conscripted, shortages of skilled miners hit production. In 1941, the Government introduced the Essential Work Order to stop men leaving the mining industry. In 1943, Ernest Bevin, the Minister of Labour and National Service, introduced the compulsory recruitment of labour into mines. These men became known as Bevin Boys. One in ten men had to work in the mines instead of the armed forces. This was resented by the miners who wanted to join the war effort. Bevin boys had a hard time in the mines. After the war, many felt that their contribution was forgotten. 

By the end of 1943 over seventy men had been ‘directed’ into work at Geevor as an alternative to military service. Ivan Moss recalled his time as a Bevin Boy at Geevor: he chose Geevor rather than the coalmines of the north or Wales, where many of them went, because he had visited Cornwall on holiday.

‘You went down at six o’clock in the morning and you came up at three o’clock in the afternoon. That was quite a long time but there was a break during the day but because they were so busy getting the tin up . . . . we stayed below. We formed a choir down there, there were a number of Methodists . . .and we used to sing and have our lunch at the same time. The remarkable thing about it was that although you were working under those conditions you became great friends with those you were working with and you worked as a team and it wasn’t nearly as bad as you may think’

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