Bevin Boys honoured for wartime service

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Twenty-seven Bevin Boys who worked in Britain's coal mines during the Second World War have received commemorative badges from Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The importance of the contribution by the Boys, who helped ease the UK's severe shortage of coal, has never before been formally recognised.

Mr Brown told them in the ceremony at Downing Street: "I'm sorry, in a way, it's taken until now to recognise your service, but it's right that we do so and it's right that we remember everything you've done."

Mr Brown's predecessor, Tony Blair, announced last June the badges would be produced to express the country's gratitude for their crucial role.

Thousands of conscripts were diverted to the mines in the final years of the war, in a scheme named after Labour legend Ernest Bevin, who was Minister of Labour and National Service in Winston Churchill's coalition government.

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