Paddy Boyle was in the forces, stationed in the Shetlands, May 1941-May 1944.
Mum always said he was offered the chance to 'volunteer' to go down the pit.
He took it on, so that he could come home- I'd been born in Sept. 1941, and because it was a 3 day journey from Shetland to Blackburn Lancs, where we lived, he'd seen very little of mum and me.
He worked at Huncoat Colliery, in the Accrington/Oswaldtwistle/Church area.
There's a vivid memory of him not coming home on time one night in winter. Mum became distraught, dragging me (about 3yrs old) to the nearby fire station, then the police station, seeking information. But I remember the expression on the face of Arthur Tyson, a recently retired miner, when she knocked on his door & told him dad was 2 or 3 hours late home. Arthur looked horrified.
Mum & I set off to the police station again, & under a swinging lamp, over a cross roads, mum caught sight of someone who terrified me in the dark.
It was dad, coming home in his 'pit dirt' for the first time ever.
There had been a breakdown in power at the pit, & the cage had stopped.
Years later, dad told me they'd eventually hand wound it to the surface.
He explained all his work to me, when I was about 8, & we 'did' mining as a school topic.
He lent me his helmet which he'd kept and the thick leather patch that slotted onto his belt, to go under the battery for his lamp, so that acid didn't splash from it onto his skin. He told me about the Tally he handed in on the way down, & collected once he surfaced again.
For years he continued the miner's habit of holding a wodge of tobacco inside his cheek, giving it the occasional chew to top up his nicotine levels.
He used the (cold!) pithead showers and went straight to the sink at home, drinking about 2 pints of water straight down, 'to kill the dust'.
He'd always done heavy manual work, but he said the pit was the worst. He had great respect for the Colliers, working in the most difficult places, often only inches high.
Last year's Remembrance Day parade on TV was the first I'd heard of the Bevin Boys being recognised, & I cried for all the memories it brought back.