Were there physical weight limits on recruitment?

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by von Poop, Feb 13, 2016.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Funny question triggered by a Friendface chat.
    Was there a maximum weight for recruits to the British (or any other) Army?

    We've all seen pictures like these: http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/3953-re-enacting-good-or-bad/?p=655912, but the question was raised as to what the 'official' policy was.
    I'd have thought the call-up was the call-up. Wondering if there were systems for dealing with big lads, or if a few months of training did the trick?

  2. papiermache

    papiermache WO 356 Mechanic

    Not really the answer you are looking for, but this is from Hansard:

    HANSARD 1803–20051940s 1947 February 1947 20 February 1947 Written Answers (Commons) EMPLOYMENT
    HC Deb 20 February 1947 vol 433 cc198-9W
    Mr. Rhys Davies asked the Minister of Labour how many persons of military age were not called up for military service during the last war on occupational grounds.
    Mr. Isaacs It is estimated that up to the end of hostilities about 3,200,000 men, now aged 20–46, registered under
    the National Service Acts were retained in their civil employments on occupational grounds. This figure includes a large number of men (estimated at about 800,000) who were medically unfit for service in the Armed Forces.
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  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Not an answer to the question, but I'd imagine that medical examinations took into account only whether someone was physically fit enough, or not, to serve in the forces according to the categories used at various stages.

    According to the link below the number of medical categories rose from 4 in 1939 ( A, B, C, D ) to 10 by 1940, while by 1945 medical classification was divided into 72 sub-categories. However, a major problem seems to have persisted - that examinations took no account of eventual employment.


    Just how far medical categories were enforced is shown in a memo circulated within Casualty Branch:-

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  4. papiermache

    papiermache WO 356 Mechanic

    King George V versus Kraft durch Freude ( Strength through joy ): more extracts from Hansard

    HANSARD 1803–20051940s 1940 July 1940 17 July 1940 Lords Sitting
    HL Deb 17 July 1940 vol 116 cc993-1038
    4.14 p.m.
    VISCOUNT SAMUEL rose to draw attention to the importance of the provision of proper facilities for physical training; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I should like to make it plain at the outset that in the wording of my Motion referring to physical training, I have in mind physical education of all kinds and not only training for the armed Forces of the Crown. Furthermore, I would invite your
    Lordships, if you will, to address your minds to this question not only as an immediate problem of war-time but also with an eye to long-term considerations. We have been proud that even in the stress and strain of these days we have not neglected the more permanent issues. For example, with respect to Colonial development, we applauded the action of the Government in proceeding with our programme in spite of the distractions of the hour. Therefore I trust your Lordships will address yourselves not only to the immediate considerations of present physical training.
    This subject has aroused from time to time great interest in the nation but somewhat spasmodically. It is an interest that comes and goes in waves. Some time ago we had, for example, a great National Fitness campaign under the leadership of a member of your Lordships' House, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, who I trust will speak this afternoon. That movement was started with great vigour and energy, with all the arts of publicity and propaganda and with the support of considerable sums of public funds. Then, suddenly, it seemed to fade away, and nothing more was heard of it in that form. We had, however, one permanent result in the playing fields movement and in the fact that the greater part of the large sum collected as a memorial to King George V was devoted to the provision of a number of King George's playing fields in various parts of the country. But why did that movement not continue in the form in which it was initiated? Possibly some of your Lordships may be able to say. Now there has sprung up another movement under the auspices of the National Youth Committee the chairman of which is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, Mr. Chuter Ede. I am informed that some 300 local youth committees have been established all over the country and that in general the local education authorities have taken up the subject with considerable energy and enthusiasm. Furthermore, quite recently the Government have succeeded in rendering available for physical training and exercise of various kinds, great numbers of football fields all over the country…………………………..

    One of the original objects of the Nazi Party, one of its 25 fundamental aims,
    was to raise the standard of the health of the nation, especially through the physical development of the young. Physical training is actively pursued in all the schools, both primary and secondary, and in universities. All the teachers are trained to be able to give physical education. There are a large number of specialist teachers who have a whole year's training in this subject. The Hitler Youth devotes itself largely to these purposes, and numbered more than three years ago—it has probably increased by now—no fewer than 6,000,000 young people. All of them have to pass efficiency tests at the age of 15, 16 and 17 in many sports and physical activities, including Swimming, in which a large proportion of our island population are still wholly untrained. Afterwards there is the movement of Kraft durch Freude—the Strength through Joy movement—which in this country we have been inclined to smile at, partly, perhaps, because of its title, but which has taken an immense development and which, according to the Report of the delegation of the Board of Education, has had remarkably good results. On the athletic side that movement has, as it happens by coincidence, the same number of persons, 6,000,000, being trained under its auspices. Then there is a National Physical Training League, which is a federation of 50,000 athletic and sporting clubs. Furthermore, nearly a quarter of the children, when they leave the elementary schools in the towns, go for a year's work in a land camp and get close to the soil, and are engaged in agricultural pursuits.
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  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Thanks, chaps.
    So it would seem there was quite possibly nothing truly official beyond the various gradings of fitness.

    Not something I think we've ever touched upon that much - the overall state of brand new recruits.
  6. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    This was a big problem early in the war. Far too many men got into the forces who had no business being there and who broke down quickly under field conditions. The AIF was even worse off than the BEF. The popular notion of the Australian Army as all tall, bronzed young mesomorphs is simply wrong.
    Owen likes this.
  7. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

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