Bevin Boy

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Bevin Boy


Ernest Bevin got his pound of flesh

as I sucked on my Woodbine,

one of the ‘lucky’ ten percent

who were standing there in line

waiting to be conscripted -

but they decided to assign

me to a living hell

and send me down the mine.


So I toiled for years in darkness

and breathed in black diamond dust,

until my back was broken

along with all the trust

that I had for mother England

and when I came out bust

what I’d endured wasn’t even acknowledged

as the Nazi’s were finally crushed.


I had sucked more than cigarette smoke

into my burning chest

but that was what they blamed it on

when the black lung came to test

my strength once again.

They said ‘we think it’s best

to just cough and bear it,

so it won’t affect the rest’.


You see the mines had become mechanised,

which meant they produced more

and the miners were pretty happy

that they were all getting paid more

and a plague of black lung cases

would have stopped the gears for sure.

I was mortally wounded by the carbon

rather than the carbines of war.


I sit now in a faded armchair

sipping hot, sweet tea.

I try not to revisit hell

in nineteen forty three

and the sacrifice I made

so that these buggers can be free.

There were some, other than soldiers,

who fought for their country.

bevin boyblack lung diseasecoal miningconscriptionsacrificeWW2

◄ Above The Light Of The Morning Star



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Tue 2nd Oct 2018 23:52

Having been brought up in a mining community in South Wales you have triggered some historical memories.

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Stu Buck

Mon 17th Sep 2018 11:04

wonderful ian. proper grown up poetry and as mentioned before, you write as if you have the smell of fear and coal on you.

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Martin Elder

Sun 16th Sep 2018 22:14

You very often have an interesting historical narrative to your work which helps to draw the reader in . Also I can imagine you delivering this live with all your usual solid cadence which gives so much more depth to your work. Are you still going to Wigan WOL. Might see you there


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Trevor Alexander

Sun 16th Sep 2018 16:09

Great. Pricks at the conscience.

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keith jeffries

Sun 16th Sep 2018 14:25

You have excelled yourself with this poem. It called to mind those miners who went on strike in Kent during the second world war. These men also faced danger, long term danger when the war was over due to ailing health. Once again you have revisited history and composed verse as if you had been a participant. Well done. This is really good. Thank you.

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Becky Who

Sun 16th Sep 2018 13:09


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