Poetry

Harry the Miner 2

By 26th November 2013December 9th, 2019No Comments

Now Harry was a lovely man
A very good friend to me
So I’ll tell you a little story
Then you can plainly see
He stood 6ft 1” in his stockinged feet
A slim yet muscular man
Spent all his days in the bowels of the Earth
Since his working life began
Barely 13 years old when he started work
And down into the pit he was sent
His task was to collect bones from the miners
Remains of children who’s lives were spent
Toiling away alongside the Miners
Doing the menial tasks they were set
Before the advent of pit ponies
And a mere few pence would they get
But Harry just went to the pit each day
His “bait” in tin box and Jenny too
For if he wanted a drink during the day
Cold Tea was the best he could do
He’d carry a Pick , a Shovel and a Canary
A Helmet and some Candle stubs too
For these were the recognised tools of the Trade
In the pit where he spent his Life through
But during WW2 he’d have joined the Military
Like all the young men in the crowd
But because he was a “Bevan Boy”
This simply wasn’t allowed
Because he’d spent his life in the pit
As Mining was reserved occupation
Instead of becoming a Soldier at War
He was mining for Coal for the Nation
But sometime in the late 50’s
A Rescue Worker Harry was made
Where in the event of a disaster
His lifelong experience would be displayed
One terrible day I remember
The Klaxon siren through the village did sound
And all the village women went to the pit
Not a word spoken there was silence all around
There had been a fall in the pit down below
13 men were trapped in there without doubt
When asked about rescue procedure
The Pit Owner said it’s too expensive to get the men out
So Harry and his mate fetched a long rope
And Harry was lowered 30 feet down below
Where he found a pit prop had fallen blocking the exit
And into action he had to go
He crawled beneath the Prop and lifted on his shoulders
Without any sign of fear
Which made just enough room as an exit
For his workmates were able to crawl clear
Harry was pulled to the surface
And in silence he walked home
A most harrowing day of his life
To be greeted by his young Granddaughter
And Margaret his ever-loving Wife
The prop had bitten deep into the flesh on his shoulders
The wounds treated by his wife with loving care
And clearly etched the sign on her face
To see Harry standing there
But 2 days passed and he was back on the job
Down to the pit face again
With never a sign of emotion
Nor mention of the physical pain
The Pit Owner learnt what Harry had done
And had a Special Bravery Medal made
To commemorate the saving of 13 lives
And the heroism Harry displayed
He was always a very quiet man
At the end of a shift while walking home he would sing
And when he was ever asked why he would say
The Sky and fresh air are my everything
His only son was never allowed to go near a pit
Nor crawl on his belly underground to feed
Tho’ he had spent all those hours underground
It was not for his son he decreed
On his 87th birthday in the Pub he drank and he sang
His favourite song and some may have cried
Then sat in the corner drinking his beer
And that was where he quietly died
His Medal had lain in the drawer unseen
Hidden tribute to a man whose body was scarred and ingrained
With shoulder that ached every day of his life
And in the N C B’s Museum the Medal has remained.

Dennis Shrubshall

Author Dennis Shrubshall

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