National Service dates?

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

  1. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Bank Street,Castleford ,West Yorkshire,two fine buildings,built in the 1930s one the Post Office,the other with both door lintels engraved; "Labour Exchange";;. This is where I registered for National Service.......that is how I remember it.

    As regards pay, National Servicemen were paid NS rates until the last 6 months of their service when they received regular rates of pay.Additionally those in the RAF who had not progressed beyond AC2 were regraded as AC1 and received an uplift in pay on the regular scales.

    On entry 4 shillings a day..... aptitude tests options offered on result of aptitude tests on completion of induction training......square bashing. Some were not offered trade training but were destined to be Admin Orderlies or Aircraft Assistants and were immediately posted to their permanent unit as AC2s.Others were posted direct to their permanent station as the likes of some u/t engine mechanics with their training being conducted as "on the job" Those with a trade option and detailed for structured training went to a Training Command unit as appropriate for their training requirements.Wearing of RAF uniform off station was mandatory while in Training Command.

    Passing out of technical training successfully.....Regraded as up to 5 shillings/ day and posted to a permanent unit....issued with a pass with permission to wear civilian clothing when off duty.At permanent station for those in technical trades, decision made to allocate internal transfer to 1st line servicing (Squadron ground crew within Flying Wing) or 2nd line servicing (Specialist trade section within Technical Wing). Those on squadron groundcrew were expected to carry out servicing and very importantly sign the Form 700,a declaration that servicing (daily inspections/pre flight and after flight inspections) had been carried out to laid down standards....aircraft would not be accepted by a pilot for operations unless every trade had been signed off and he in turn would supply a signature,accepting the aircraft.

    Satisfactory progress in squadron servicing and able to work without immediate supervision....assessed by i/c Sgt...regraded to up to 7 shillings a day,still on NS rates.

    Promotion to SAC.After 18 months service put on regular pay of 11 shillings/day.Had to have attained minimum academic standard.

    As regards the attraction of 4 shillings, 6d/day regular pay for those NS entering the service,I would not say this was not much of an attraction.What counted was the outcome of the trade option and this was used to induce NS men as of our Air Wireless Mechanics was only allocated the trade option when he signed on for a minimum of 3 years. An acquaintance of mine entered the service at 21 years old after an electrical engineering apprenticeship...he declined to sign on as a regular to obtain his trade and completed his NS....... as a Cook.....little wonder he has never shown any interest in the service since.

    The opportunity to recruit NS men as regulars came at their exit interview or towards the end of their service....some signed on as regulars for a variety of reasons.On my exit interview by the W/C Admin, I was offered a J/T Air Radar Fitters course if I signed on as a the time the first Valiant V Bomber squadron was envisaged but still somewhat far away and the operational service of Lincoln B2s would be withdrawn from front line duty in the mid 1950s.

    Regarding the deployment of NS men in the service.In some trades,the core of a section's strength might be NS men.In our radar section we had about 10 personnel,two were regulars,former Boy Entrants and were J/T fitters,the rest were NS men from AC1s to SACs

    Reservist commitment....allocation of mobilisation centre,mine was RAF Rufforth,York but never called to report for the annual two weeks duty.By this time I was involved in a reserved occupation.

    Sandy's White Paper has to be researched deeply to understand what it was.To some professionals,it was a shambles.The 1956 Defence Review threw up extensive discussions and much of the Sandys' White Paper had been written before from the 1956 Defence Review.Macmillan's thinking was that Fighter Command should be abolished and that the Hunter and Javelin should be the last fighters issued to the RAF with the UK fighter defence underwritten by ballistic nuclear weapons.Macmillan also had personal views expressed what would be the total V bomber force of 200 front line aircraft envisaged,rendered down to 100-120. Sandys was of the opinion that Coastal Command should be absorbed by the Admiralty.It had been last discussed in 1954 without proposed change.

    As for NS,the legislation was due to run out in 1958 and the three Secretaries of State were aware of it.Government ministers such as Sainsbury thought that it could only be relaxed by 1965 while Antony Head saw that the situation with NS was that it would be over subscribed and a ballot was the solution to the problem.Earlier Eden as PM was determined to get rid of NS but his time ran out. His total manpower across three services was suggested at 350000 rather than the 450000 that Head envisaged.

    It would appear that Sandys was a poor communicator in sofar he did not allow circulation of his proposals to restrict debate as some thought.Consequently,he had strained relations with the Chiefs of Staff and was seen as Macmillan's hatchet man.In the end Sandys' White Paper was seen by Macmillan as a hot potato and it was shelved with nothing acted upon from1958 to 1962.

    As some military professionals summarised the White Paper.....a curate's egg...good in parts,but not many.
  2. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    Fortunately memory cannot alter historical fact: the term 'Labour Exchange' was abolished in 1916, and never revived, as I was made fully aware as a counter clerk in an Employment Exchange, with the name fully and properly emblazoned outside, in 1956. Having occasion to visit a number of exchanges over the 1940s-1980s, the only evidence I ever saw of the former name was a black and white enamelled name plate which had been tucked away in a cupboard of a building surviving from the Edwardian era.

    There was no Sainsbury in government in the 1950s, or indeed at any time during the period of National Service. I wonder whether there has been confusion with Robert Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury, who served in Cabinet under Churchill, Eden and Macmillan, mainly as Lord President of the Council.

    To say of Duncan Sandys' Defence White Paper, published on 5 April 1957, "it was shelved and nothing was acted upon from 1958 to 1962", is to wholly ignore the fact that the two most important elements were implemented, within that time frame - winding down and abolition of conscription, and investment in nuclear armaments. The former was ultimately uncontroversial. Controversy around the latter continues to this day
  3. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Sainsbury was a typo on my should have been Salisbury,Robert Cecil from the old family which had such influence in the Conservative Party over the years but whose influence has waned.At the time he was the Conservative Party leader in the Lords.Additionally,his public salary as Lord President of the Privy Council was of circa £4000/annum,the same remuneration as the three Secretaries of State.

    For comparison,the defence budget in 1957 was £1.5 billion.

    Sandys was at loggerheads with the philosophy of NATO who expressed concern at the rundown of conventional manpower in Europe..initial plans were to cut the BAOR manpower back from 80000 to 45000 and to reduce the 2TAF by 2/3rds from 400 aircraft.Sandys in turn expressed that NATO had no regard for British responsibilities in the Middle East and Asia. by the time had come to 1963 these responsibilities were not valid,the MEAF no longer existed and the FEAF existing as a shadow of its former self....out of the Middle East and the Malaya emergency over and independence likely...hanging on in Aden and a presence in Hong Kong,a totally different state to manpower commitments of 1957.Further there had been the Suez situation to contend with and the uncertainty of the Hungarian uprising but there was nobody with a crystal ball to forecast the future....shortly after this crisis,Sandys released his White Paper in April 1957,two months late whether it had anything related to the international situation not clear.

    If NS could not be abolished under such favourable circumstances in 1963,as matching manpower to commitments,it never would be.

    I think it would be accepted that Sandys got his nuclear strategy badly wrong with his pursuit of his ideal independent nuclear deterrent.He envisaged that the RAF's long range striking force would be replaced by ballistic missiles and the days of manned aircraft were soon to be over.Macmillan had previously thought that the defence of Great Britain would rely on SAMs and that the FC Hunters and the Javelin would be the last manned fighters.Sandys might have been influenced by his boss's thinking.

    Sandys placed his faith in the deployment of the US Douglas Thor missile,a hurried agreement between Macmillan and JFK,ordered in 1957 and in service use from August 1958 and the D/H Blue Streak.The former did not represent a UK independent nuclear deterrent for there was a dual interlocked permissive management system.The RAF were restricted to the propulsion system which covered the primary role of fueling up and the USAF had control of the nuclear warhead...a key from each party required to gain access to firing.It was seen as a disadvantage in terms of being independent but there were further undesirables with the basic specification.....situated in a fixed location ground level silo.....protracted fueling up and restricted period to keep the missile fueled up before it was necessary to stand it down,ie its reaction time was not that was required for a front line nuclear weapon.By the middle of 1963,the Thors,the property of the US government were returned to the US.

    For the purpose of an independent nuclear deterrent,it was thought that a complete UK missile could be provided by the Blue Streak but this was cancelled in 1960 when it was realised that the same shortcomings applied to it as the Thor.By 1961,a decision by the AM was made to incorporate the Blue Steel nuclear stand off weapon on Vulcans and Victors and the government decreed until the Polaris deterrent came into service in July 1969 that Blue Steel would be the deterrent.Sandys already had his own way when he reduced the future V Bomber force of 184, as agreed by Macmillan, from 184 aircraft to 144 aircraft,most of which would be Vulcan Mark 2s and Victors.

    So in effect the UK did not attain an independent nuclear deterrent until Blue Steel was in service and not the highly desirable "undetectable" system until the coming of the Polaris.

    From the point of view of the politicians behind this change,there is no better reference than the utterings of Eden as PM, Macmillan as Chancellor and Monckton,the Minister of Defence who put it this way "Defence was getting too big a share of money.production,scientists and engineers and manpower in general".Some might say the change was initiated by an economics dimension.
  4. chaz

    chaz Active Member

    interesting reading.
    The Call Up by Tom Hickman a history of the National Service.

    some good recollections from well known personalities.

    (cant cut and paste for some reason today!!)
  5. jetson

    jetson Junior Member

    Just tumbled on your comments Drayton and thanks for putting me right. The fact is though one of my pals was one of the unfortunates in BAOR who three weeks before his anticipated release to part time service, was informed he had to serve an extra six months!
  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Labour Exchange......submission from Lieutenant Commander Peter Bull DSC RNVR in War at Sea

    "Fulham Labour Exchange on an autumn day in 1940,it was apparent that I had a major decision to make.I had plenty of time to study the choices: heights make me giddy which immediately ruled out the RAF or the NFS,the Army would entail a lot of walking and the battledress would be unbecoming to my ample figure.I was therefore left with the Senior Service to consider"
  7. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    Clearly yet another person whose reliance on folk memory has allowed him to obscure the facts. As I stated in posts 16 and 20 above, the term "Labour Exchange" was abolished with effect from 10 December 1916.

    Moreover, the NFS (National Fire Service) had not been invented in 1940. Peter Bull was possibly referring to the Auxiliary Fire Service,, created to supplement local Fire Brigades. Later they were all merged into the NFS.
  8. snailer

    snailer Country Member


    Notwithstanding the fact that you are clearly correct in what you say with regard to Labour Exchanges being renamed in 1916, it is your continued assertion that the term was abolished that I find puzzling.

    Your quotes:-

    “Registration was not at a Labour Exchange, which term had 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.”

    “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."

    "Fortunately memory cannot alter historical fact: the term 'Labour Exchange' was abolished in 1916, and never revived, as I was made fully aware as a counter clerk in an Employment Exchange, with the name fully and properly emblazoned outside, in 1956. Having occasion to visit a number of exchanges over the 1940s-1980s, the only evidence I ever saw of the former name was a black and white enamelled name plate which had been tucked away in a cupboard of a building surviving from the Edwardian era.”


    "Clearly yet another person whose reliance on folk memory has allowed him to obscure the facts. As I stated in posts 16 and 20 above, the term “Labour Exchange" was abolished with effect from 10 December 1916"

    A quick search on TNA’s discovery website gives over 1300 hits for Labour Exchange between 1925 and 1949 and nearly 1200 for 1950 onwards, I got to page six of several hundred, here’s a selection;

    Labour Exchange reports. Ministry of Home Security: Research and Experiments Department, Registered Papers. SURVEYS OF DAMAGE IN GREAT BRITAIN. Birmingham. Labour Exchange reports. Held by: The National Archives - Home Office Date: 1940 - 1942 Reference: HO 192/1241 Subjects: Labour | Research

    Labour exchange, Deptford. RANK, HOVIS, MCDOUGAL AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRIES. General miscellaneous filing 1956. Labour exchange, Deptford. Held by: Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre Date: 1956 Reference: A70/18/10/35

    Ipswich: Labour Exchange, Grimwade St. Photographs of Ipswich, Capel St Mary, Sproughton and Westerfield. Ipswich: Labour Exchange, Grimwade St. Held by: Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich Branch Date: April 1965 Reference: K 490/168/1

    Salford Labour Exchange, Trafford Road. Documentary Photography Archive: Material relates to the Manchester Evening News and events in Manchester.... Half Plate Glass Negatives. Salford Labour Exchange, Trafford Road. Held by: Greater Manchester County Record Office (with Manchester Archives) Date: 1935 Reference: D117/1/31

    Extensions to Labour Exchange, Rollestone Street, Salisbury Wiltshire County Council Planning Department. Records of the Planning Process. Preliminary Comments on Planning Applications. Southern Area. Extensions to Labour Exchange, Rollestone Street, Salisbury Held by: Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre Date: 1951 Reference: F14/428/36

    Basement shelter at Labour Exchange, Albert Road Records of the City Architect. A.R.P. RECORDS. SPECIFICATIONS, BILLS OF QUANTITY. Price Contract Bills, Office Copies. Basement shelter at Labour Exchange, Albert Road Held by: Southampton Archives Office Date: January 1943 Reference: SC/BA/ARP/Box 13/44

    Meetings in vicinity of Catford Labour Exchange Metropolitan Police: Office of the Commissioner: Correspondence and Papers. MEETINGS AND PROCESSIONS. Meetings in vicinity of Catford Labour Exchange. Held by: The National Archives - Metropolitan Police Office Date: 1936 Reference: MEPO 2/3092 Subjects: Labour | Policing

    Survey of the Durham Labour Exchange area. Board of Trade: Industries and Manufactures Department: Correspondence and Papers. RECONSTRUCTION OF INDUSTRY. Survey of the Durham Labour Exchange area. Held by: The National Archives - Board of Trade and successors Date: 1944 Reference: BT 64/3494 Subjects: Labour | Trade and commerce

    "Labour Exchange Employment Committee 1921-1923" British Waterways - Weaver Navigation Files. "BOX 5". - Col. Saner was a member of the committee 1921 and File contains numerous Min of L. publications and Northwich committee papers. Held by: The Waterways Archive Date: 1921 - 1923 Reference: BWWN5/5

    Straker v Harlesden Labour Exchange: section 2 Race Relations Board: Minutes and Papers. RECORDS OF THE BOARD UNDER THE RACE RELATIONS ACT 1968. Cases investigated by the West Metropolitan Conciliation Committee. Straker v Harlesden Labour Exchange: section 2. Held by: The National Archives - Commission for Racial Equality and predecessors Date: 1976 Reference: CK 2/1557 Subjects: Labour | Race relations

    The people who staffed these places, sticklers like yourself no doubt, may well have stopped using their former nom de bureaucratique but it’s clear that others including several official bodies such as the Home Office, the Board of Trade, the Metropolitan Police and the Race Relations Board all continued to use the term Labour Exchange long after you insist it was abolished in 1916.

    Owen likes this.
  9. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member


    Thank you for your intervention. However, my reading of the majority of the instances you cite seems to indicate attribution of the term "labour exchange" by TNA's catalogue compilers rather than the term necessarily appearing in the documents themselves. Other instances might require examination of the documents themselves to discover not only what nomenclature was being used, but by whom. Evidence of use of the term by correspondents to the Ministry of Labour, or by third parties writing about the Ministry is not evidence of official use of the term.

    A parallel example is that of catalogue compilers unilaterally attributing records of WW1 Military Service Tribunals to "Military Tribunals", as if they were run by and for the Military, whereas they comprised civilians appointed by local authorities, responsible to the Local Government Board.

    Here is a relevant example of the official usage with regard to the Ministry of Labour's exchanges:

    The British Way and Purpose (consolidated edition, 1944), Directorate of Army Education, devised as a textbook for education in citizenship; Part 9, "The Citizen at Work", Chapter 4, "The Part of the Government" (page 259);

    "Here are a few things it [the government] does -
    (a) It provides Employment Exchanges where where employers may find suitable employees and workers may find jobs."

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