Bevin Boys

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Your otherwise excellent obituary on footballer Bobby Collins (13 January) was flawed by stating that Bobby avoided National Service by opting to work underground in the pits in preference to serving in the forces.

Being a miner for two years was National Service, at a time when men were needed to augment the shortage of miners during the period when Britain was desperate for coal. Most Bevin Boys were chosen at random.

When you became 18 it was either the pits or the army.

The families of those killed in mining accidents received no compensation, and those invalided out because of injury received no pension.

Having witnessed miners working the coal faces during press visits to Bilston Glen and Monktonhall, I regard myself as having been lucky to spend my two years at RAF Kai Tak, Hong Kong.

Gordon Dean

Belgrave Road

Edinburgh