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rmtruby

Coal-miners during the Great War

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rmtruby

I believe that my grandfather, Lewis Truby, from Wednesbury, was a coal-miner during the Great War. However, this is where my knowledge begins and ends. Is there any way of tracing exactly what he did during this time?

Thanks

Ray

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Max

Only if he married, died or had children during the Great War period and details were noted on the relevant certificates.

Andy

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marc leroux

Ray, do you believe that he was a coal miner while part of the Army, or exempted from service to continue working in the mine?

marc

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Annette Burgoyne

Depending on his age, he may have been working at the time of the 1901 census, lads as young as 12 were working in the pits on Clee Hill.

Annette

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garyem1

In WW2 my father was a miner and could not be called up, I think he also told me that he could not leave his job either.

gary

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rmtruby

Thanks for all the replies so far. I believe that he may have been exempted from service during the Great War, but, again, it's only speculation. He would only have been a boy when the 1901 census was taken. However, this may help me to make tracks in the right direction. Although he was a Wednesbury man, his family may have been living in the Yorkshire area in 1901. It's all very hit and miss at the moment!

Thanks

Ray

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enoch beard

ray, have you had replies to your' bugle' articles

enoch

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Tom Morgan

Ray - as I'm sure you'll know, there were lots of coal-mines in Wednesbury at the time (the last one closed in 1914.) There were also Yorkshire miners working in the area who went back to Yorkshire as the mines closed.

Tom

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enoch beard

i think sometimes that the whole of black country will fall in the old mine workings

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Tom Morgan
i think sometimes that the whole of black country will fall in the old mine workings

And I've heard treacherous "foreigners" say that it wouldn't be a bad thing either.

Tom

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rmtruby

Let's get back on track lads, please!

Thanks

Ray

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Jim Gordon

I have read somewhere that civilian miners were used by the Army to assist in the tunnelling opeartions of Underground warfare. They were noy regarded as part of the Army but, of course, shared the same rigours and dangers. I don't know if they were volunteers or directed labour.

Regards

Jim Gordon

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Guest danniboy

Hi all,

A little googling revealed that coal miners were employed to dig tunnels in WW1.

http://members.fortunecity.se/mikaelxii/ww1/tuneel.html

On the Western Front during the First World War, the military employed specialist miners to dig tunnels under No Man's Land. The main objective was to place mines beneath enemy defensive positions. When it was detonated, the explosion would destroy that section of the trench. The infantry would then advance towards the enemy front-line hoping to take advantage of the confusion that followed the explosion of an underground mine.

Soldiers in the trenches developed different strategies to discover enemy tunnelling. One method was to drive a stick into the ground and hold the other end between the teeth and feel any underground vibrations. Another one involved sinking a water-filled oil drum into the floor of the trench. The soldiers then took it in turns to lower an ear into the water to listen for any noise being made by tunnellers.

It could take as long as a year to dig a tunnel and place a mine. As well as digging their own tunnels, the miners had to listen out for enemy tunnellers. On occasions miners accidentally dug into the opposing side's tunnel and an underground fight took place. When an enemy's tunnel was found it was usually destroyed by placing an explosive charge inside.

Mines became larger and larger. At the beginning of the Somme offensive, the British denoted two mines that contained 24 tons of explosives. Another 91,111 lb. mine at Spanbroekmolen created a hole that afterwards measured 430 ft. from rim to rim. Now known as the Pool of Peace, it is large enough to house a 40 ft. deep lake.

In January, 1917, General Sir Herbert Plumer, gave orders for 20 mines to be placed under German lines at Messines. Over the next five months more than 8,000 metres of tunnel were dug and 600 tons of explosive were placed in position. Simultaneous explosion of the mines took place at 3.10 on 7th June. The blast killed an estimated 10,000 soldiers and was so loud it was heard in London.

There's even a picture on this site.

Danni

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PhilB

Mining has a long and honourable history in seige type warfare. The crater at Petersburg from the US Civil War (ventilated by draught from fires?) is a good example and I`m sure members can give many more. Phil B

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KILTY

There seems to be a misconception as to a miner not being able to be called up during the war. My father served with the Royal Engineers albeit WW2, his army service & pay book giving his trade on enlistment as miner. He worked in the mines from the age of 14 until retirement.

Jon.

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Max

Hello Jon

Was your Father called up (conscripted) or did he volunteer?

Andy

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PhilB
There seems to be a misconception as to a miner not being able to be called up during the war.

I`ve spoken to several WW1 veterans who had been miners pre-war. They were all happy to join up because anything, they said, had to be better than coal mining. Phil B

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garyem1

Hi jon,

Was your father working in the mines at the outbreak of WW2.

gary

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KILTY

Andy,

As I understand it, all depended on the particular job the man did in the mines. Men who were proficient in say drilling, shot firing were always in demand by the Royal Engineers Field Companys & consequently could be conscripted.

Gary,

Yes he was working in the mines at the outbreak of the war.

Jon.

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Arnie

Miners could not be conscripted under normal circumstances in WW2, to the contrary many mobalized with the TA in 1939 were discharged to go back down the mines. There was a right of appeal to stay in uniform, but it would often be refused.

However any one with a poor attendance record could be come liable to conscription.

During WW2 one in seven conscripts were sent down the mines as 'Bevan Boys'

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Simon R

Weren't 12th KOYLI the 'Miners Btn'? Serving as infantry?

Edited by Simon R
spelling

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Max

Hello Simon

They were called "miners battalion" but were not raised as anything other than a normal service battalion. The geographical nature of the battalions "catchment" area meant that a large number of the men just happened to be miners. The Bn was attached to the 31st Division in May 1915 as a pioneer unit.

Arnie

I think that you are quite right. My Grandfather actually left the coal mine in early 1939 because he knew that as a miner he would not automatically be allowed abroad with his territorial unit.

Andy

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Simon R

Good stuff, thanks.

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The_Historian

Am I right in saying that most pioneer battalions at the front had a high percentage of miners? Wasn't one of the criteria for conversion from infantry to pioneer battalion the ratio of men who were used to hard manual labour in civvy street?

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