Frank Godfrey


Frank Godfrey
Sheila Robinson’s Grandfather

My grandfather was born in 1893 and when war broke out he was a miner at Nailstone Colliery which is between Ibstock and Market Bosworth. Coal was vital to the war effort and like many miners grandfather was exempt from military service and did not serve in the forces. In those days coal was hewn by hand and eventually grandfather became a chargeman in charge of a staul, or section of coal, from where coal was mined in blocks. This would have been worked by a group of six or eight men and my uncle Don tells me that amongst grandfather’s responsibilities was the collection and distribution of wages. Working conditions for miners were very bad in those days.

In addition to the physical dangers, disputes between owners and workers were common-place and therefore wages could be irregular. Miners were recruited into the army to dig attacking tunnels under enemy lines. I believe initially many men viewed fighting in the trenches as an escape from the hell of working in a private mine. As they quickly found out, as well as enduring the usual dangers of mining, tunnellers constantly faced the risk of subterranean counter attacks by the enemy and almost certain death if the tunnel they were working in was blown up.

I think my grandfather might have considered himself fortunate to have been in a reserve occupation. Unfortunately no photographs of my grandfather have survived. He died aged 89 having spent all his working life as a miner.
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The original exhibition display: Frank Godfrey