During the Second World War Britain was so short of vital coal supplies and coal miners that the authorities offered ex miners in the armed forces the opportunity to return to mining. This offer was a failure, so conscription was introduced. At 18, fit young men, chosen by ballot, were conscripted for underground coal mining and became what were known as Bevin Boys, named after Ernest Bevin the Minister of Labour whose scheme it was.Most of the conscripts had never seen a coal mine. This novel is based on the experience of one of them. Set in a Britain drained by war, it reflects the class attitudes of the period.