National Service dates?

Discussion in 'Postwar' started by Peter Clare, Apr 23, 2015.

  1. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    this has probably been asked before but I could not find the relevant thread.....

    What would have been the last date to have been born to qualify for National Service and what date/year did it end?

    A friend has stated that I should have done my time in the services but as I was born in December 1941 I missed out on the experience.


  2. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    National Service ended gradually from 1957.[3] It was decided that those born on or after 1 October 1939 would not be required, but conscription continued for those born earlier whose call-up had been delayed for any reason.[4] In November 1960 the last men entered service, as call-ups formally ended on 31 December 1960, and the last National Servicemen left the Armed Forces in May 1963.[5]

    Seems I have answered the question re Google


  3. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    It ended in 1963 men between 17-21 were required to serve 18 Months with the Korean Conflict seeing it increased to 2 years. The last conscript was demobbed in May 1963 but I`m not sure when the last `intake` was Sept 1961 perhaps?

  4. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Off the cuff,the whole acts relating to the conscription of men into the British Armed Forces went under the umbrella of The National Service Acts 1939-1961.

    As said, the last ones to serve got demobbed in 1963 and the first were the ones who were called up in the summer of 1939 for an anticipated 6 months term.I remember one of the early ones who was called up for this supposed 6 months service that with the events unfolding was not demobbed until 1946...spent most of his time in the India/Burma theatre .....evacuation and then the retaking of Burma ....could relate a good account of the retreat up Burma into India.

    As regards exemptions....any formal training that qualified for exemption....apprentices/student engineers etc, if they so decided to apply but would be subject to NS after completion of their formal training....those who decided to go to university and complete NS afterwards....those in reserve occupations....a loophole there, three of my engineering colleagues never did NS,they joined the Merchant Navy.

    All men had to register for NS at the age of 18...the decision to conscript or not,would follow as determined by the man's personal circumstances.
  5. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    National Service made the young lads grow up quickly.
    My first serious boyfriend went into the Army. He went off an innocent Wesleyan chapel boy, but when he came home he had more advanced ideas ;)
    That was in the 1950s.
  6. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Deleted, duplicate post
  7. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Uncertainty cleared up many thanks for the replies
    Tricia, say no more!


  8. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    As regards the effect on those who were conscripted for NS, a citizens' militia.if ever there was one from the conscription acts of 1939, for the majority it was regarded as a finishing shool and represented a mixing pot across the social spectrum.However there were misfits who had to toe the line,some didn't and were the subject of continual disciplinary sanctions.Then there were those who could not take it and the experience disturbed them mentally.

    For many others it was a chance to provide a new direction...knew of a NS pilot who stayed on and finished up as a W.C i/c of a Valiant squadron ...there were many others who I would think used their service experience as the opportunity for a change of direction
  9. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    IIRC the last intake or so had their discharge delayed by some 6 months because the recruitment of regulars was running a bit behind.
  10. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    Yes, that is the reason why, although NS enlistment ceased in late 1960, the last men was not discharged from full-time service until 1963.

    I refer to to 'full-time' service, because it has not been mentioned in this thread, and is raely mentioned elsewhere, that post-was national service liability, under the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1948, had two components: full-time service, orginally 18 months, extended from 1950 to 2years; and part-time service, orginally four years, but reduced to three and a half years to compensate for the full-time extension.

    Following that total of five and a half years, there was a reserve liability of a further ten years.

    Many talk glibly of 'National Service'. Few recount the facts.
  11. jetson

    jetson Junior Member

    I recently read that Anthony Head, Minister of War arose in the House of Commons during the McMillan government and announced that National Service was at an end. Sadly he forgot about the hundreds still serving who he had just condemned to an extra sex months service totalling two and a half years as there would be a considerable shortfall of regulars.
  12. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    If anyone did write that, he or she was writing patent nonsense:

    1. Anthony Head was Secretary of State for War from 31 October 1951 to 18 October 1956, well before the ending of National Service. Indeed, so far from overseeing the end of it, he was in office at the time of the passage of the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1953, which renewed it for a further five years after the expiry of the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1948 on 31 December 1953.

    2. As Secretary of State for War, Anthony Head served under Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden, not under Harold Macmillan.

    3. Harold Macmillan's name was spelt thus, not McMillan.

    4. Legislation on National Service was the responsibility of the Minister of Defence, not the Secretary of State for War,

    5. Although Anthony Head became Minister of Defence (still under Eden) on leaving the War Office in 1956, he did not announce the end of National Service.

    6. That fell to Duncan Sandys, his successor as Minister of Defence from 13 January 1957, in the new government of Harold Macmillan.

    Facts, dear boy, facts, as Supermac might well have said.
  13. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    How National Service affected me (excerpt from Blog).

    All young men on reaching 17 had to register for National Service at the Labour Exchange and have a medical so they could be called up at 18, any youngster of this age would be stopped by the Police and asked why they were not in the Services, they had to prove they were either to young, produce a pass to prove they were on leave, or a exemption certificate to prove they were either unfit, a student at university or a deferred apprentice (Who would be called up after his apprenticeship or Degree )
    The only other way out of NS was to go in the Merchant Navy for 5 years if you signed off the navy before 5 years you still got called up. This happened to my friend.......... who did two years in the navy and two years NS.
    I did not register;
    Then for some reason I had to call in the Labour Exchange, May be insurance number can’t remember.
    Have you registered “No” two days later medical at Wanstead, Week later call up papers

    23592274 Private Burnikell Report to Royal Army Ordnance Corp Hillsea Barracks Portsmouth (Oct. 15 I think) Group 58/ 20.
    I was horrified, if I was to go in the Army this was the last unit I would have wanted, I wanted to be a proper soldier. Not a blanket folder (.RAOC was all supplies and stores.)
    Like a mug I had believed them when I filled in a preference sheet.

    Choice 1 Guards (Proper soldier I thought)
    2 Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (learn a trade)
    3 Royal Army Service Corp (Learn to drive)
    I did not realise the Army called you up by groups, 12 months in year, 2 drafts a month
    22 groups’s a year leaving out Xmas and New Year. I was group Year 58/20.All group 20 over the whole country mostly went to RAOC
    So there I was with a railway pass standing looking lost on Waterloo Station with a lot of other looking lost 18 year olds, on the train to Portsmouth where we were met by a Corporal who fed us on to the back of 3 ton lorries for the drive to Hillsea Barracks.
    On arrival we were shepherded into a large Gym
    First of all you were documented, all the usual questions, then do you play any sport (Cricket, Boxing, Rugby or Football,) at what level. Any body who was a good amateur or pro would be fast tracked through basic training made a L/Cpl as part of the physical training group, and spend the rest of their Nat Service representing the Corp or Army in a cushy home posting..................
  14. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    With ref to your posting #13, would you care to give us the link to the blog you mention ?


  15. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Hi Ron
    Sorry if the title is a bit misleading. :sorry:
    The "blog" is in my files and I have never got round to actually posting it anywhere,
    This section is is from my NS days when I ended up with 16 Para Bde.
    All rather boring humdrum stuff.
  16. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    Registration was not on reaching 17, but on reaching 18; all young men turning 18 in a calendar quarter were required to register on a Saturday designated within that quarter for all the quarter's cohort.

    Registration was not at a Labour Excjange, which term had been been abolished in 1916, long before any men conscripted for post-WW2 National Service were born, but at an Employment Exchange (EE in Ministry of Labour & National Service jargon), the term which had subsisted since 1916.

    In addition to the other possible exemptions mentioned was registration as a conscientious objector.

    There was no 'preference sheet', but a single preference question in a questionnaire covering a variety of other details. The preference invited was primarily for branch of Armed Forces (RN, Army of RAF), a unit within being secondary, The question had a prominent warning note that the preference was for guidance of alloation officials, and no guarntee could be givem, allocation ultimately depending upon what was needed at the time and suitability of fthe man concerned having regard to education, experience, fitness etc.

    Preference for the Army was fulfilled in Redtop's case, and, failing the Guards, preference for a corps rather than the infantry was fulfilled, so in the great scheme of things not too bad a deal. It was possible to get exactly what one asked for, but that rather depended on what one asked for.
  17. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

  18. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Hi Drayton
    I still call it a LabourExchange and I was not even around in 1916 :)

    I might well do that.

  19. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Just a few points on registering for National Service and service itself.</p>

    Registration required on attaining the age of 18.This in my case was done at the Labour Exchange,a building built in the 1930s,of good standard,next to the Post Office and over both entrances carrying;"Labour Exchange" inscribed on the door stone lintels.......Bank Street, Castleford,West Riding of Yorkshire.......In the 1960s,I believe both were disposed of and put to business became a cafe.

    At the time within the West Riding it would appear that a large proportion of recruits were destined for the R.A but a preference could be made and that came when I was instructed to attend a medical about 6 weeks after my 18th birthday...Templar House,Leeds which was situated half way up Briggate down a side street to the right, about where Schofields,an up market department store was located........made a preference for the RAF... passed the medical as A1

    About 6 weeks later instructed to report to RAF Padgate and to report by 1600 on the day which proved to be a convenient time .....Railway Warrant for single rail journey Castleford to Padgate and a postal order valued at 4 first RAF pay at 4 shillings a day as an AC2.Early morning start and onward to Manchester to take the train for Padgate from Manchester Piccadilly.....met a Leeds lad on the station.... still remember his name but never saw him again after that day....a stinking hot day...".fancy a pint" and so we did in the BR those days the tariff displayed on a large board...then on to there at about 1400 with plenty of time to spare...coming out of the Padgate station,really a stop at best and guess what,a pub opposite the main gates..."fancy a pint" and so we did and reported into the camp well before 1600.

    First meal consisted of baked beans which were in a congealed state and bacon which was as cardboard....still had to be eaten or starve.....kitting out and processing was to follow....many were hungry and thought they could survive via the NAAFI...they were to learn differently

    At the time the Korean War had caused the AM to have a rethink on aircrew strength...did we want to volunteer?...yes we did..met a lad who was at grammar school with me and he volunteered.....recently found that since demob had emigrated to he has been there for a lifetime...teeth inspection by dentists who treated the patients as cattle and another medical......Aptitude tests which I found no problem..then on to Hornchurch for aircrew selection which was an experience in itself.

    Incidentally the Ministry of Defence never featured in the running of the three services,its role being co-ordination.Before the Defence (Transfer of Functions) Act 1964, implemented on 1 April 1964 the three services were managed by the appropriate Secretary of State with the Admiralty,War Office and Air Ministry responsible for their respective functions......never had any correspondence or seen documentation referencing the MOD in my time.....all the gear was AM, through and through....from 1 April 1964,the three functions were merged under a new structured MOD with the philosophy continuing.
  20. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    A useful overview of the post-war National Service conscription, selection and joining procedure, save for one detail. As I stated in post 16 above, the term Labour Exchange, invented in 1910 by Winston Churchill, as President of the Board of Trade, the department then responsible for the new institutions for facilitating recruitment of labour, was abolished on 10 December 1916 with the creation of the new Ministry of Labour and transfer to it of the employment responsibilities of the Board of Trade. Possibly because of perceived confusion between the name of the new Ministry and its main public 'faces', or for whatever other reason, its local offices were renamed Employment Exchange, a name which subsisted continuously until the 1970s, when Job Centres began to appear.

    Apart from dealing with recruitment of labour, an increasingly important function of Employment Exchanges in the inter-war years was administration and payment of unemployment benefit (commonly called 'the dole'), in the era of mass unemployment and the ensuing nororious hardships. To deal with this there was a major building programme by the Ministry of Labour of new EEs to a standard 1930s design, but neither the Ministry nor the Office of Works (the government department responsible for public buildings), whatever their other faults, wasted public money or sought to create public confusion by carving in stone on these edifices a name long abandoned after a mere six years' duration.

    Possibly what Harry Ree so vividly recalls from Leeds is the name 'Ministry of Labour' carved in stone, which a trick of memory has confused with the retention of the short-lived title Labour Exchange in popular parlance, the kind of idiosyncrasy sometimes found in other fields. For example, local School Boards were abolished in 1902, but their public faces, school attendance officers, persisted in being known popularly as the 'schhol board man' into the 1940s, a whole generation after local councils, as local education authorities, had superseded school boards.

    Be that as it may, it is an inescapable fact the term Labour Exchange was formally abolished in 1916, and an examination of Ministry of Labour material will demonstrate the regular use 'Employment Exchange' and no use of Labour Exchange.

    Incidentally, it was the Ministry of Labour & National Service (the suffix was added on 3 September 1939 and retained until 12 November 1959) which, apart from organising registration under the National Service (Armed Forces) Acts also organised pre-entry medical examinations and the selection preference arrangements.

    The 4s advance of pay sent with the call-up notoce was intended to cover refreshment required for the journey; Liquid refreshment was legal, although probably not intended by the authorities. Incidentally, 4s was the daily rate for national service recruits across all three armed forces, and one device to encourage national servicemen to sign up as a regular, instead, was to point out that pay would be immediately enhanced to 4s 6d per day with better prospects of advancement.

    On the status of the Ministry of Defence in relation to National Service, it was responsible for the strategy leading to the winding down and abolition of conscription. In his significant White Paper on Defence in 1957, Duncan Sandys announced long-term commitment to reliance on British nuclear weapons, which would enable reduction in armed forces personnel and eliminate the need for compulsion.

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