Discussion in 'General' started by drailton, Oct 5, 2010.

  1. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    Well, as I understand it, the EP acts (of which there were several) were the legal basis for the wartime government's right to conscript. So you could say that the Military Training and National Service Acts were specific applications of the general powers granted by the EPAs.

    I am sorry, but your understanding is wrong. Acts of Parliament frequently grant governments power to do various things, usually by secondary or subordinate legislation known as Statutory Instruments or Oders in Council. The Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939 was normal in form but unusual in the scope of powers it granted. That scope, however, did not extend to military conscription; theoretically conscription could have been included as one of its powers, but the government decided that conscription was such a significant step that it deserved primary legislation in its own right - hence the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939. passed a few days after the Emergency Powers Act.

    Moreover, since it is Parliament which necessarily passes all Acts of Parliament, there is no way that Parliament ever purports to pass an Act giving itself the right to pass another Act. For what it is worth, the process adopted in 1939 followed that of WW1, whereby the WW1 equivalent of the 1939 EPA, the Defence of the Realm Act (notoriously known as DORA) was passed in 1914, and then the Military Service Act in 1916. In the meantime, of course, there had been the Military Training Act 1939 introducing limited conscription from June 1939, without, of course, any reference to emergency powers.

    As to other EPAs, these followed the normal practice with such legislation in that they were amendments to the original, or what is always called the "principal", act, rather than acts which could be read on their own without reference to the principal acts. The same applied to the National Service (Armed Forces) Acts, of which there were a number of amending acts. Similarly, the introduction of post-1945 conscription required fresh primary legislation without reference to wartime or any other emergency powers.

    A distinction between law and policy, I think. It's not that the army couldn't send nineteen-year-olds to France: it just chose not to.

    Exactly, as I put it in a different way in my earlier post. At any one time a government is likely to have powers which it decides not to implement.
  2. Pete Keane

    Pete Keane Senior Member

    So what form did the limited Military Training Act take ie were people called up for full-time service, and from what age (I'm assuming its not for recalling regulars on the reserve).

    Each amendment of the EP(D)A was signed by the King and publicised in The Times ?

  3. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I do know that no one under the age of 19 was allowed in an active area (knowingly!) For many put their ages on. I was 19 by five weeks!
    On the other side of this. While in convalescent home, many suffering from very severe wounds that would make them invalids for life. This band of cripples and hospital patients, unbelievably all had letters informing us that we were still liable for military service... That was later in 1945.
  4. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    So what form did the limited Military Training Act take ie were people called up for full-time service, and from what age (I'm assuming its not for recalling regulars on the reserve).


    Essentially the Military Training Act attempted to establish a kind of compulsary TA. It provided for conscription of all men aged between their 20th and 22nd birthdays for six months full-time training, after which they would be transferred to the Reserve, for call-out in an emergency.

    Registration and enlistment were to be by cohorts. The first registration was held on Saturday 3 June 1939, and the first cohort was called up a month or so later. Before the second cohort became due, war had been declared and the MTA was superseded by the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939, introducing full-time conscriptio for men aged 18-41. Those already called up under the MTA were assimilated into the provisions for full-time conscription.

    The MTA itself was later repealed. Like the National Service (Armed Forces) Act, it provided for conscientious objection and other forms of exemption.
  5. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    I am sorry, but your understanding is wrong.

    No problem! Always happy to learn something new (however arcane).

    Best, Alan
  6. Marks

    Marks Senior Member

    The Royal Navy first conscript was John Gritten Royal Naval Special Reserve Reservist No 1 16 August 1939. He was a journalist and wrote a book on his experiences 'Full Circle' ( I believe the Royal Navy only called up 500 before war was declared)

    Flight 27/7/39

    The first batch of miltiamen was received by the RAF on 17 July . During the first two months of the calling up the RAF will have a quota of 2,000, to be received at the rate of 125 a day on four days of the week. The first batch was received at West Drayton to collect their kit before departing to their allotted stations.

    The first batches are comprised of ground personnel; men for the air sections will not be called up until later in the year. The miltiamen will be supernumerary to the squadron strengths ( each will receive about 100) but they will be treated as ordinary members of the units.

    I believe men called up for the Militia had some choice as to which service they joined. Although I think the RAF were sort of skilled men, and were looking for trained cooks, clerks drivers etc.

    Servive numbers 701000- 702935

    Many served in France in 1940, and many suffered when Java was lost to the Japanese in 1942 !

    Gallantry awards (known) 1 D.F.C, 3 D.F.M, 1 A.F.M, 1 B.E.M
    86+ Died during WW2 10 P.O.W Germany, 27 P.O.W Japan ( 11 Died)

  7. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    I should, perhaps, have made it clear that men called up under the MTA were known as militiamen. (The Militia was originally a forerunner of the TA, its origins going back to feudal times.)

    Once they had been assimilated into long-term conscription the term militiamen was no longer used.
  8. sparky34

    sparky34 Senior Member

    men had to be 19 to fight in KOREA and the MALAYAN EMERGENCY when was the age dropped to 18 for the future actions that have taken place ..
  9. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    I am trying to find exactly when conscription started in WWII. I understand that the National Service (Armed Forces) Act imposed a liability to conscription for all men aged 18 to 41. Can anyone tell me exactly when this came into effect.

    I have an instance of someone signing on in the RAFVR on 25 May 1941 when aged 18 years 9 months and wondered if he should have already been called up by that time.

    Call-up was not the crucial date. That was registration, the first step in the process. Men born within a certain time period (usually, but not exclusively, a year or half-year) were required to register at their local Employment Exchange on a designated Saturday. Apart from giving full personal particulars, they could express a preference for a particular unit of service, although there was no guarantee that the preference would be met. They could also make initial claims concerning matters such hardship, conscientious objection and reserved occupations. Those not filtered out in any of these ways were then sent a notice to attend a medical examination, which, apart from filtering out those wholly unfit, classified men according to fitness for particular kinds of work. Only when men had been finally processed in this way were they sent call-up papers ordering them to report to a particular training establishment.

    The man mentioned in this enquiry appears to have been born in August 1922, which would have made him liable for registration on Saturday 6 September 1941. Since, as a volunteer, he had presumably already undergone preliminary processing, he could well have been called up in October 1941, the date indicated in the enquiry. This seems to suggest that volunteeering only marginally, if at all, speeded call-up. The difference it may have made was ensuring his call-up to his chosen arm of service, but, of course, another would-be volunteer might have been rejected by his arm of choice.
  10. Chotie's Daughter

    Chotie's Daughter Chotie's Daughter

    22nd October 1942 – the call-up age in Britain was reduced to 18 by Royal Proclamation ( from

    What I'd like to know is did this just apply to men and did the minimum age for women stay at 20?

    Anyone interested in conscription/volunteering for younger men migh look at information on the 70th Young Soldiers' Battalion, which seems to have been created earlier in the war to cater for young soldier's below conscription age who volunteered.
  11. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    Do not believe everything you read on the web. Authority to call up men from age 18 for full-time military service was granted by the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939, which received the Royal Assent on 3 September 1939. It was put into effect by a series of Royal Proclamations, requiring men in certain cohorts by date birth to register at their local Employment Exchange, as a necessary preliminary to the call-up process. Because the call-up age extended to 41, many men were considerably older than 18 at the time of registration, and even younger men were originally not required to register until they were already turned 18.

    In October 1942 it was decided to speed up the process by requiring men to register from age 17 years six months, so that the necessary preliminaries could be dealt with enabling actual call-up soon after the 18th birthday. The garbled entry on the website link was obviously written by someone with no understanding of the system and is not worth the space it takes up on the screen.

    The change in the registration timetable for men in no way affected the system for women.
  12. Chotie's Daughter

    Chotie's Daughter Chotie's Daughter

    Thanks Drayton.

    The web obviously spreads misinformation as easily as it spreads information. Will correct on my website anyway!

  13. jetson

    jetson Junior Member

    A relative of mine was in the Militia and coincidentally my dad a recalled reservist was one of his recruit instructors at Glen Parva Barracks, Wigston. My relative served in Norway and then later when serving in North Africa, rather curiously, was claimed by his former employers the LMS railway as a key worker and he was shipped home and released to his civ occupation. My dad served in France, was evacuated from Dunkirk and later saw service in India and Burma. During my years as an engineering worker a generation later, I worked alongside numerous friends older than myself, who were under the impression they had a choice at the onset of the war between six months militia service or equivalent service in the TA while remaining at home engaged in their civ employment. Most seemed to have opted for the TA although it was embodied on the oubreak of war. Whether this option existed or no, they all wound up in the wartime army. So was there an official choice for young men between the Militia or TA?:confused::confused:
  14. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    So was there an official choice for young men between the Militia or TA?:confused::confused:

    During the brief peacetime period of conscription in the spring and summer of 1939, one way for 20-21-year-olds to avoid call-up into the Militia was to join the Territorial Army instead. This was a somewhat controversial option, because it offered (allegedly) a 'funk-hole' to men who didn't want to commit to six months of full-time Army service. The TA was even described as an "expanding racket."

    After the outbreak of war most distinctions between regular, militia, and TA service were eliminated, and so the issue became moot.

    Best, Alan
  15. jetson

    jetson Junior Member

    Thankyou Alan that has clarified things for me. As an aside, I recall two local chaps who were unemployed in the great depression of the early thirties and who temporarily joined the TA to get two weeks army pay at annual training camp!
  16. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

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