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Mine Exploration Forum

Author Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
sougher

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Location: Hampshire

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 11:29:54
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Simon - many apologies for including this off forum topic, however, I couldn't let the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2 pass without remembering all the miners and people who worked in the associated mining and quarrying trades either working on the home front or serving in the Armed Forces, many of whom lost their lives in the united fight to give us our freedom, which now allows all of us to live our lives as we choose and happily persue our hobbies.

I don't suppose there are many members of Aditnow who remember the announcement of the outbreak of war over the "wireless" (now called "radio"!) by the then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at 11 a.m. Sadly I am of that age group who can clearly remember it (a bit like "where were you when Kennedy was assassinated") I was a school girl just about to start Junior school. With my family I'd spent the previous week on holiday at Rhyl, some memories of which include the constant booming noises echoing across the sea, which was the effort of the Royal Navy to raise the sunken submarine HMS/M Thetis which had sank in Liverpool Bay on 01/06/1939 with the loss of 99 lives, (ironically she was brought ashore at Moelfre Bay, Anglesey on the 3rd September, 1939). Other memories include seeing the Militia camp just outside Rhyl and all the troops mustering, and being allowed to stay up on the Thursday night (31st August) to watch Rhyl's illuminations for the last time, as the whole country was plunged in darkness nightly from the 1st September onwards (I still remember the starry skies of the War and my dad pointing out many stars and their names - how not to get lost by following the north star!). The train journey home to Derby was an absolute nightmare, as our train was constantly shunted into sidings to allow for the movement of troop and evacuee trains, we finally arrived in Derby about 10 p.m. in the evening to find no electricity as a tremondous thunder storm was raging and a barrage balloon had been struck and hit the electric power supply which was then produced by a power station sited in Full Street in the centre of town, no trolly buses were running so we caught a "petrol" bus home; whereas the majority of houses were without light we were lucky as we had no electricity installed, only gas and also candles! Sunday the 3rd was a sunny day and I wasn't sent to Morning Sunday School (as normal), we all gathered around the "wireless" and heard the declaration of war, and my dad who had fought in France in WW1 from February, 1915 (he volunteered for the Royal Field Artillery in September, 1914) until being demobbed in February, 1919, just said "well, I never thought to see history repeat itself in my life time", and that was it, once more the United Kingdom was at war, twice in 24 years! That night the first air raid sirens sounded over the UK, fortunately it was a false callout, but even hearing that sound today shivers run down my back. I have many more childish memories of the war (such as schools being closed for 18 months, and German bombing raids on Derby in the early part of the war, the raids started from about September, 1940 onward when we sat in very cold Anderson air raid shelters in heavy frosts and snow with bombers overhead, searchlights cross beaming the skies, ack ack guns blazing away, with a bomb dropped in the next street to where we lived etc. etc.) but far too many to recount on this forum, Derby got off light compared to some parts of the UK. I just didn't want the anniversary of the outbreak of WW2 to pass without remembering all the people who worked, fought and died to give us the freedom that we all enjoy today.

Am I the only dinosaur on Aditnow who can remember? Please add your memories if you have any.
IP: 94.3.42.67
Daz

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 12:18:05
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Having read this, I can really appreciate just what I have, and how lucky I am, and what people like you and indeed your gerneration did. This makes fascinating reading. I would love to read more of your experiances. You should maybe consider writing a book.

--

Daz
IP: 195.93.21.33
carnkie

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 12:34:03
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Alas sougher I'm a mere spring chicken and was born during the blackout. Not being Compton Mackenzie I don't have total recall.

I must adimit it wasn't until the other day that I realised there was a Quarry Company especially recruited. No 583 Quarry Company, Royal Engineers was formed in Halifax on the !st. July 1940.

Initially, the company saw service in Northern Ireland and then came a spell operating as a bomb disposal unit in Oxfordshire, London, Plymouth and Bristol. The company
was reformed as a quarrying company before D-day and embarked for France to restart quarries closed at the outbreak of the war. This would provide the raw materials that would enable roads to be repaired and supplies to be pushed up to the front line, They travelled through Northern France, the Netherlands and Germany. This is not something that had crossed my mind before.

In Cornwall men were recruited from the slate, granite and clay industries and I assume this was the same everywhere.

Digressing, I've been watching with interest the anniversary of the Winton children and their train journey. Truly moving and a tribute to a remarkable person.
“Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.” Well one good man did something. Unfortunately evil still flourished.

--

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.
IP: 80.47.87.108 Edited: 03/09/2009 12:44:06 by carnkie
sougher

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 13:33:14
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Carnkie - Well you'd have been one of those war-time babies in the event of a gas attack (and the fear of them was very great at the beginning of the war, with memories of chlorine and mustard gas attacks of WW1 trench warfare still very real in the minds of ex-WW1 soldiers such as my father and his brother who both had been badly gassed in Flanders) who would have been "stuffed" into one of those awful baby respirators, whereby the whole baby was placed inside (there have been pictures of them on BBC news recently) and kept alive by a hand pump! The next smaller type up from them were "Mickey Mouse" ones, then Junior versions of grown-up gas masks (they were horrible to wear and were issued earlier in the summer before war was declared - we had to practise at school putting them on and off and wearing them for longish periods, one felt as though one was going to choke). At the outbreak of war it was compulsory for the whole of the population to carry their gas-mask (contained in a cardboard box) everywhere they went, and most people were seen with them slung over their shoulders, there were severe penalties for not carrying them. Another thing that happened was the silencing of church bells. Not having easy methods of communication like today i.e. mobile phones, sat.nav. etc., the Government decided to ring church bells across the whole of the UK in the event of a German invasion (shades of the Spanish Armadas in Elizabeth 1's time when beacons were to be set ablaze on hilltops throughout the Kingdom in the event of a Spanish invasion), so church bells were silenced except for the ringing of them to celebrate the Victory at El Alamein in North Africa which (from memory) I think was in 1943.

Another memory you evoked was for me to remember that Canadian troops (I think they had been miners pre-war) probably Engineers were responsible for the opening up and opencasting the top of Masson Hill at Matlock, Derbyshire during the early part of the war for the extraction of high grade fluorspar to help with the war effort, the end product being sent to the British foundaries (especially Sheffield) to be used as a flux in steel processing this reducing the amount of limestone used. So when you present-day mine explorers walk through the present opencast site to gain access to the Masson Hill lead mines complex, just spare a thought for those early Canadian miners, as up until they worked there, there was no quarry, all the Masson mines were underground until then.
IP: 94.3.42.67 Edited: 03/09/2009 17:59:21 by sougher
carnkie

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 14:43:33
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I must make clear this isn't me, I wasn't in St. Cleer at the time.
[web link]





--

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.
IP: 80.47.167.25 Edited: 03/09/2009 14:50:06 by carnkie
Digit

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 15:10:45
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Given that this is a mining and quarrying site we should perhaps specially remember the 'Bevin Boys', the 48,000 who were conscripted not into the uniformed services but into the coal mines. For those who do not know the history of the WWII in as much detail as older generations the following is a very brief outline.

In the early days of the war many miners had been allowed to sign up for the armed services, this caused problems as the wartime situation created an increase in demand for coal. By 1943 coal production had fallen to a level that endangered the war effort. The government reacted by diverting a proportion of those being called up at 18 into the mines. They received 4 weeks training before being distributed among the many privately owned mines. In general the scheme was not well received, most had expected to 'do their bit' in the army, navy or air force, 40% requested reclassification but were refused. Whilst they were well received and cared for by the miners the 'culture shock' was significant, most came from none mining areas and had no clue as to what to expect in a mine. Worst of all when permitted home leave their home communities regarded them as conscientious objectors and shirkers something that could not be further from the truth.

Particularly bad was their treatment at the end of the war. Unlike the uniformed services they were not de-mobilized until 1948, with no 'de-mob suit', no financial gratuity and no assistance in finding work. It was not until 1995 that their sacrifices were recognized as part of the Remembrance Day events and their medals were not granted until 2008.

These men played a critical part in the war effort and daily faced the very considerable dangers that existed in the coal mines of the 1940s. Many were injured, died or acquired life-long disabilities and we should remember them along with all the others who 'did their bit'.


--

If you keep your eyes open you may see something interesting. If you don't something interesting will find you.
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AR

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 15:46:51
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sougher wrote:


Another memory you evoked was for me to remember that Canadian troops (I think they had been miners pre-war) probably Engineers were responsible for the opening up and opencasting the top of Masson Hill at Matlock, Derbyshire during the early part of the war for the extraction of high grade fluorspar to help with the war effort, the end product being sent to the British foundaries (especially Sheffield) to be used as a flux in steel processing this reducing the amount of limestone used. So when you present day mine explorers walk through the present opencast site to gain access to the Masson Hill lead mines complex, just spare a thought for those early Canadian miners, as up until they worked there, there was no quarry, all the Masson mines were underground until then.


Also there were the Czech refugees who did some work at Odin gorge and Treak Cliff top during the war years getting fluorspar for the blast furnaces - of course, back then we were mining much more iron ore in the UK as the supply from Scandinavia had been cut off.

The Canadian engineers did work in Carrock to make it workable if required, and I'm sure they did work underground at other sites in the UK.

--

I think I'll have the sheep first, then I'll have the abbot
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ICLOK

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 16:02:25
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Fascinating stuff sougher as always and a very big well said to digit.
The Bevin boys were a forgotten army. One relative of mine remembered them as being "Fish out of watter.." and recalled how they jumped at every creak crash and crunch during their first underground visit... "eyes like bloody plates" when they saw their work place.
My grandad had one guy stay with him from Worcestershire (Pershore I think as he talked about the Pershore Plum) and what is particularly sad is that exactly as you said the guys home community called him a "coward" and "front dodger" particularly as he was single... He even got punched one weekend. But my grandad reckoned he was looked after up here, soon becoming one of the boys (but many didn't) as he decided to make the best of it. He finished up staying in the North Midlands/South yorks area and worked in the Peach & Tozer works at Rotherham and once remarked he felt at home with the working men he'd got to know.... It is a shame they were not recognised sooner for their contribution.

--

'Sir, I am unaware of any such activity or operation - nor would I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did in fact exist, sir.'
IP: 78.150.85.50 Edited: 03/09/2009 16:06:10 by ICLOK
Bill L

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 16:19:24
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'Bevin Boys' also worked in at least one Cornish tin mine - Geevor. There is a recording made by one of them in the Geevor Oral History archive. IP: 86.152.105.209
jagman

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 16:39:38
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AR wrote:

The Canadian engineers did work in Carrock to make it workable if required, and I'm sure they did work underground at other sites in the UK.


Lunehead too
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Captain Scarlet

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 16:49:43
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[web link]

--

You die, we split your kit - You don't die, we split your kit anyway!
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Bill L

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 18:12:07
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I think the Canadians were involved in the attempt to rework Bellan mine, nr. St Just and constructed the mill whose remains can be seen at the bottom of Cot Valley IP: 86.170.69.240
JohnnearCfon

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 18:13:38
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Reading the text under that video:-

On 20 June 2007, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that all surviving Bevin Boys would be rewarded with a commemorative badge. The first badge was issued by Blair's successor, Gordon Brown, on 25 March 2008, marking the 60th anniversary of the last conscripted miners being released from service. Among the 27 men who received badges that day was DJ Jimmy Savile.

Somehow I can't imagine Jimmy Saville down a mine!

--

Cadwch Cymru'n daclus-Taflwch eich ysbwriel yn LLoeger
IP: 89.242.206.180
ICLOK

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 18:32:00
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OOOOOH I can..... Devil A long forgotten disused one! Wink

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'Sir, I am unaware of any such activity or operation - nor would I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did in fact exist, sir.'
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JohnnearCfon

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 03/09/2009 18:33:20
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ICLOK wrote:

OOOOOH I can..... Devil A long forgotten disused one! Wink


Ah yes, with a nice cap on it! Big Grin Big Grin

--

Cadwch Cymru'n daclus-Taflwch eich ysbwriel yn LLoeger
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Imageo

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 06/09/2009 03:17:42
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A bit off topic and an earlier war, but members may be interested to hear of a forthcoming film, 'Beneath Hill 60' loosely based on the lives of Australian tunnellers from the 1st Tunnelling division, many of whom were ex-miners. I gather filming is just about finished and it should be out next year.

Link : http://www.beneathhill60.com.au/index.htm

Cheers

--

I'm a Geo 'There's a very fine line between a hobby and mental illness.'
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carnkie

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 06/09/2009 11:52:02
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There is a very interesting account, with photos (one of the officers of the Australian Tunnelling Company) and diagrams of the shafts and tunnels of Hill 60 and the Salient in a fine book, The Battlefields of the First World War: The Unseen Panoramas of the Western Front.

Apparently from a mining point of view the ‘war’ between the Allies and the Germans was dictated by the geology. Beneath the sandy surface layers of all the Flemish ridges lies a seam of saturated sands, known to the Germans as Schwimmsande, to the Allies as running sands. Trapped between the surface stratum and deeper beds of blue Flanders clay, the layer was not only waterlogged but under great pressure. The impervious clay beneath precluded any downward percolation so the only escape route was laterally from the ridge slopes as spring lines (in Hill 60’s case mainly into the railway cutting). However, this was such a slow process that the wet layer remained permanently in place all year round regardless of weather conditions.

The Schwimmsande was a formidable barrier to miners. Sinking a shaft through dry ground was straightforward enough, but if the soil first erupted when the layer was pierced and then acted like sloppy porridge, it was an almost impossible task In the spring of 1915, the Allies found a way of solving the problem by using sectional steel instead of traditional timber shafts. Strong, watertight and safe these cylindrical ‘tubbed shafts’ were installed on many parts of the Allied mining front in Flanders in 1915, 1916 and early 1917. The important point about this is that the Germans thought that if they couldn’t solve the problem then the Allies couldn’t. The 21, 000kg mine under Hill 60 must have come as a surprise although one had been placed under St.Eloi earlier.

I'm sure you will understand the essentials of this better than me. Smile

--

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.
IP: 80.47.179.108 Edited: 06/09/2009 11:55:07 by carnkie
minerat

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 06/09/2009 20:57:39
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HI Sougher, I can remember my 3 uncles all going to war, my grandma was proud of them, worried but still proud, I was 3 in 1944 I remember going to change the accumalator and hi tension battery near the new bath hotel in matlock bath so my grandad could listen to the "war news". my sister had an gas egg we used to put the chicken in pump like mad. somewhere amongst my ramel I have one of the brown boxes used to carry it to school also nr new bath hotel.it was when I was about that age when in matlock bath the place was full of "squaddies" forgetting their trouble in a gill or two or twenty. "good old days"

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be afraid.....very afraid !!!!
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Alec

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 07/09/2009 22:33:43
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I'm pretty sure that Canadian Army Engineers were 'on site' close to the Houseman engine shaft at Minions in the 1940s, too. Immediately adjacent to the remains of the L and CR Rillaton Goods Shed there are the footings for temporary buildings erected by them - or so I believe. Scoggan, I'm pretty sure, will know more of this story.

My father, by the way, was a pit electrician at Old Silkstone Colliery at Dodworth, in the West Riding, when war broke out. He was fond of reminding me that he received his call-up papers to join REME on his 21st birthday, being fairly rapidly deployed in northern France in 1940. From there, via Dunkirk, back to reassemble his unit in Devon, and thence with the 14th Forgotten Army to Burma. He resumed his electrical engineering career post WW2 in Devon, where, among his responsibilities were the former West Devon Mining and Power Co. hydro stations at Mary Tavy and Morwellham, ultimately, with my father, transferred to the CEGB. Under their auspices I was able to walk through and photograph the interior of the Bedford Canal Tunnel during one of its periodic maintenace 'outages'. I'll post the pictures, taken on ex-RAF B and W film in 1965, on this site.

Kind regards

Alec K

--

Alec
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Scoggan

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Seventy years ago today - 3rd September, 1939
Posted: 14/09/2009 21:37:21
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The footings and tempory buildings I beleve were for the reworking of Wheal Prosper in 1907.
A party of Canadian Royal Engineers working at Collurian Lelant in April 1942 were transferred to Silver Valley Mine SX2541 7135 just to the west of Minions, and 60 sappers and others were employed until June 1943 deepening the shaft and carrying out prospecting work for the stategic minerals tin and wolfram.
Apparently no production was achieved, I have not been there for some years (it was a courting place for me) but I remember concreat bases and machinery lodings on which the the letters CRE 1942 Appear.
IP: 86.155.173.250 Edited: 15/09/2009 21:04:33 by Scoggan
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