What Was the Bevin Boy Scheme?

The Bevin Boy Scheme


From 26 September, 1942, men under the age of 25 could opt for underground work in mining as an alternative to military service. THESE ARE KNOWN AS OPTANTS.

CAB 102/399 (41)



From 18 September, 1943, registrants eligible for call-up were specifically asked if they wished to be considered for placing in coalmining instead of in the Forces. AGAIN THESE ARE KNOWN AS OPTANTS.

CAB 102/399 (42)



By 25 September, 1943, 13.078 opted or volunteered for mining. Of these 4,146 had subsequently withdrawn or proved unsuitable, 3,530 had been placed in coalmining, with others still under consideration.



On 19 October, 1943, the Minister of Fuel and Power announced that men with previous underground mining experience who were serving in the army at home were to be released for coalmining. THESE ARE KNOWN AS VOLUNTEERS.



It was now proposed to direct 50,000 men compulsorily to the coalmines in the course of 1944.



Subsequently a statement was made by the Minister of Labour & National Service in the House of Commons on 2 December, 1943 outlining compulsory recruitment of men for coalmining by means of balloting. THESE ARE KNOWN AS BALLOTEES.

LAB 8/734



On 14 December 1943, the first of 33 fortnightly ballot draws took place with the last draw being cancelled due to the end of the war with Germany.

LAB 8/147



Thereafter men being called up for National Service could still opt or volunteer for work in the coalmines in lieu of services in the Services. This scheme continued until 1948 and consisted again of OPTANTS AND VOLUNTEERS.

LAB 45/96

Bevin Boy Veteran Badge


Badge can be issued to men who were conscripted directly into the mines, those who opted for mine work in preference to joining the Armed Forces, or those who were in the Armed Forces and volunteered to become miners during the period 1942-1948.

The Bevin Boys scheme was introduced in 1942 by the then Minister for Labour and National Service, Ernest Bevin. The scheme ran between 1942 and 1948 and involved recruiting men to work in coal mines during and immediately following World War 2.


The badge is available to all surviving Bevin Boys and formally recognises their work in the UK coalfields during and immediately after World War II. The badge can only be issued posthumously to the widows of men who died on or after 20 June 2007 and fall into the above category.


The application form for the badge can be found here:

Or you can contact the Department of Energy and climate change who  administer the badge

on 0300 068 5716

Bevin Boy Commemorate Medal

For the relatives of deceased Bevin Boys who do not qualify for the Government Bevin Boy Badge (those Bevin Boys who died before 2007) a Commemorative Medal has been commissioned by the Bevin Boys' Association.


The Bevin Boy Medal is available to Ballotees, Optants, Volunteers and next of kin called up between 1943 and 1948.


The medal is solid silver and can be ordered here:

Bevin Boy Medal


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© Jaye L Swift

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