World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                      Keith Albert Gould 

A Bevin Boy in North Derbyshire

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Keith Albert Gould
Location of story: North Derbyshire
Background to story: Civilian Force


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Norman Wigley of the BBC Radio Sheffield Action Desk on behalf of Keith Albert Gould.

At the start of the war I was working at Plowright’s, an engineering company at Brampton in Chesterfield. I had passed my medical for the Royal Navy but could not be released because of the importance of the work we were doing. I was a plater’s assistant and we were doing important war work.

I was in the Home Guard as part of Plowright’s Platoon at that time. One of the firm’s managers was the platoon commander – talk about Captain Mainwaring, he was just like him!

I was then called up as a “Bevin Boy" (this meant service in the mines instead of the armed forces and it was decided by your service number), and was sent for training at Creswell Colliery. We were trained in wheel locking on tubs and in linking tubs together, and then we had 2 or 3 visits underground – I was put in a corner working with a man with a pick and a shovel.

After training I was assigned at Markham No. 2 Colliery at Duckmanton near Chesterfield. I had an interview and when they found I had worked in engineering, I was given a job as a fitter.

One of my first jobs was to change a jib on a machine. This involved removing rusty studs which were so corroded, we had to chisel the heads off. We were working in only about 30 inches headroom. We started early in the day and did not finish until over 12 hours later. We took food breaks when we could – there were no set times. When we were eating we had mice running around our feet

It was a dangerous life. I was involved in the rescue of men who had arms trapped in machinery, several times.

My hearing started to deteriorate and this eventually became dangerous for me as I could not hear when there was danger of roof falls. I stayed in the pits for 21 years.