Aled Eurig ‘The cowards and the courageous: How the South Wales miners led the resistance to the Government’s attempt to impose military conscription on the mining industry in 1917’

The British Army ‘s heavy losses on the Western Front in 1916 led the Government to attempt to extend conscription into the ‘essential industries’. In January 1917 it attempted to introduce it into the mining industry, but the Miners Federation of Great Britain, led by the South Wales miners, resisted its imposition. By September 1917, however, south Wales and the Forest of Dean were the only coalfields opposed. Because of the Miners of Federation of Great Britain’s decision that conscription would only be imposed in all mining areas if all were agreed, the ballot in November proved a proxy for anti-war and pro-war sentiment. The ballot was lost by the anti-war movement and conscription was introduced in the mining industry in by the end of November, 1917.