A letter From Charles J Woods Majorca
Once again I enjoyed the latest edition of the Bulletin, thanks to my sister Mrs. Elizabeth Kane of Torbothie, who keeps me up to date on Shotts news. (this web site has no afilliation with Shotts History Group) The article on Mr. Craig of Paisley, Bevin Boy, set me to thinking of my time in the coalmines, specifically Calderhead or “Maraker”, as it was called then. The question that has always puzzled me, “Was I the only local Bevin Boy during 1943 to 1946? In September 1943, I was a Brass finisher in Shotts Foundry, with eight years experience in coal mining equipment and steam boiler maintenance plus three years at Coatbridge Tech. At that time I was called up (drafted) for the R.E.M.E./Seaforth Highlanders and told to proceed to Fort George, Inverness on or around September 23rd. On the 21st I received a telegram to report to the local Labour Exchange, where I was relieved of my Ticket, Passes, etc. and told to report to Cockmuirhill Training Center, Dunfermline. Not looking forward to “doon the Pit”, I inquired about an alternative and was told that the only alternative was six months in Barlinnie (and everyone knows what that meant). Anyway, I would have preferred the Seaforths, as my Father was in the Seaforths in World War I.
My first job at Calderhead was on the Tip of the hill (bing) working in two feet of mud(gum) in driving rain which lasted two months. Then I got a “promotion” down the pit to the coal face, doing what seemed to me a horses job, namely “putting”, which I found out later was against the law. After two bad accidents and a back injury, which still plagues me, I was released to my former job, which wasn’t there. As Mr. Craig points out, there were some who did not get their jobs back and I felt that I was in that category. In 1947 I joined the Merchant Navy and shipped out to Curacao, Panama, Los Angeles, the Pacific Coast, four states on the United States Eastern Seaboard, Cuba and Glasgow. After three years of “cruising” Aussie, British Columbia, Cuba(again), France, India and Pakistan and a stint on The Coast of Scotland(with MacBrayne & Burns Laird), I decided Los Angeles was my favourite. My wife Mary, my family and I have lived here for fifty-six years. I have worked on oil well tools, aircraft, and aerospace, including the Apollo spacecraft. However, I haven’t forgotten the many friends I met in “Maraker”—they were the Salt of the Earth(‘tho the Salt was black)! As a post script to all this, I had volunteered three times in 1940, the Royal Navy twice and the Fleet Air Arm once, and was cautioned “for hindering the War effort”. I was also in the Home Guard (L.D.V.) and almost three years in the mines with no recognition whatever. All my buddies have passed on, so once again I wish to say “Thank you” to my sister, Elizabeth, and hope that this letter is in no way an embarrassment to her. Most sincerely, Mr. Charles J. Woods
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