THE extraordinary story of a war hero was the motivation behind a new novel by a bestselling author from Colchester.

Liz Trenow was inspired after learning the story of her friend Ivor Singer, a ‘gentle, bookish boy’, who worked as a miner during the Second World War.

Liz explained: “Like all 18-year-olds at that time he expected to be enlisted in one of the armed forces.

“But instead, he found himself uprooted from London’s East End to a mining community in Staffordshire.”


A failed plea for volunteers led the government to devise a scheme for compulsory coal mining service. Ivor was one of nearly 50,000 so-called ‘forgotten conscripts’, chosen by ballot.

“Ivor’s experience in the mine was traumatic. He was badly injured in a rock fall and carried the scars for the rest of his life,” the author explained.

The men enjoyed none of the kudos of fighting for their country and faced stigma for not being uniformed and didn’t receive Veteran’s Badges until 2007.

Liz said: “I hope this story goes some way towards providing the recognition these brave young men deserved.”

The Secret Sister goes on sale on May 5.