View Full Version : Bevin Boys

tony draper
19th Sep 2008, 13:39
Bevin Boys
Watched a interesting documentary on these chaps on UK History Channel last night,struck me that unusually for the class ridden society at the time the random selection of the Bevin Boys seemed unusually fair,ie middle class chaps expecting the RAF and being issued with a Spitfire and the sons of toffs who under normal circumstances would have expected to be wandering about with a swagger stick under their arm shouting at the lower orders found themselves wielding a pick at the coalface alongside the aforementioned lower orders,musta been a hell of a culture shock.

19th Sep 2008, 13:43
arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr i bet it was...

oops wrong thread

19th Sep 2008, 14:54
wandering about with a swagger stick under their arm shouting at the lower orders

Yes. I had always thought they were volunteers, but it seems I was mistaken.

Wikipedia says they included conscripts who might otherwise have been commissioned officers. If that is correct, it indicates to me a waste of scarce resources. One acquaintance volunteered to join the Canadian army in WW2, turned down because of poor eyesight. Although myopic he was a determined chap, and his Dad knew the colonel of an infantry regiment, arranged an interview. It was brief. The colonel asked: "Are you prepared to stand up first?". "Yes". "Well, you're in".

He was commissioned and he did a fair bit of standing up first. This is what leads to young fellows, some of them even toffs, getting killed first. Ultimately in his case it led to his being a guest of the Third Reich. He and his platoon or whatever had been fighting and the enemy disappeared. After a while they put down their arms for a cigarette and all of a sudden they were under the guns of a German force. What to do? My chap said they were so close he had eye contact with the German officer. What to do? My chap said "Hi!", and that was what stopped them from being mown down. The German chap said "Wie geht's?"

Off they all went to the various Holiday Inns run by the captors. At the time my chap could very well have been a glasses-wearing young lawyer in Toronto. Is that bit about the swagger stick and the lower orders not a trifle unfair?

tony draper
19th Sep 2008, 15:36
Possibly,sometimes the rabid lefty of one's yoof leaks through.
Talking to a chap in Bradford once, he had jumped out of a airyplane on the Ill fated Bridge to Far raid,he was shot in the leg and lay hidden until thee Germans stumbled upon him, he understood enough of German and body language to work out two of them just wanted to shoot him as he lay to save the trouble of hauling him back, and the other one argued against it,anyway he figures he is about to meet his maker so he reaches into his breast pocket and pulls out a packet of Capstan to enjoy a last smoke,the Germans eyes light up "Ah zer Englander ciggaretten" so he hands them round,that decided it instead of shooting him they hauled him back and he also finished up as a guest in various POW camps,interestingly he was repatriated to England because his leg would not heal up,and he finished up in the Newcastle General Hospital where a Canadian Doctor fettled his leg by inserting maggots down the plaster to clean up the corruption.
I never knew until I heard that tale that our POW could be repatriated.
Smoking did not damage his health

Krystal n chips
19th Sep 2008, 16:37
Mr D,

I had an Uncle who was repatriated whilst working for Japan Railways Ltd with a liver condition...it seems even they had the odd touch of humanity at times......less so said Uncle whose opinion of the Railway Company in question could not be printed on a family site such as this.

19th Sep 2008, 17:00
There are some odd stories. When my chap with the poor eyesight was put into a POW camp the Kommandant was a real gentleman, officer from the Kaiser's time. He summoned the Canadian officers to a meeting. Reports were that German prisoners in Canada were well treated, so the Wehrmacht wanted to do what it could in return. He could offer at least limited privileges, a walk outside the cage, extra food, and so on. They asked if that extended to the other natonalities? Nein! In that case, thanks, but no thanks.

"Ah Meine Herren", said the Kommandant, "I am so glad to hear you say that. That is the conduct I should expect of my own officers".

They were all summoned later by the Kommandant who announced that he had terrible news, he had great difficulty in going on, but he must. He was so dejected they all thought they were going to be shot or sent to the salt mines.

No. It was worse than that. The war was going badly for Germany, so he his own troops had to be redeployed to combat duties. This of course must lead to certain changes, and they must understand that these were none of his doing. He respected them all as fighting men, but duty was a stern mistress and he must do to them -- he asked them to understand his position -- what he hated to do to fighting men: he must move them to another camp, where the officers were ............. Italian.