'Joined', 'enlisted', 'called up', 'attested', 'embodied' etc

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by Skip, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. Skip

    Skip Senior Member

    Another question on correct terminology ...

    I am researching several men who, at different periods post the outbreak of war, joined up. Their service records show they did so through their local TA units and that they obviously went straight into full-time training and were subsequently deployed abroad. My first question is in this case how would you correctly describe them 'joining' the army? 'Enlisted'?

    Secondly I understand that pre-war TA men were 'mobilised' at the outbreak of war. Some of their records show that they also 'attested' on certain days whilst other records give a date of being 'embodied' - can anyone please clarify how each of these differed just so that I'm writing the right thing.


  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    I always say "I was called up" whereas, if I was from the States, I would say "I was drafted"


    It would be equally correct to say "I was conscripted"
  3. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    TA soldiers today, and for the last 40 years or so (and almost certainly for long before that) are 'attested' when they join, just as regular soldiers are. Attestation is part of the process of enlistment when they take an oath of allegience. When they are called upon to undertake full time service (whether voluntary or compulsory) they are 'mobilised'. My understanding is that it was the unit which was embodied into the full time army (and thus the members would be mobilised), but the two terms may have been loosely used as meaning much the same.

    I would guess that the local TA unit, in wartime, was probably a holding unit and also operated as a recruiting station and as a local reporting point for those called up.

  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Chris has it about right as the TA were attested earlier - then mobilised - those "called up " were subject to the Conscription Acts as opposed to those who "Volunteered " - very early on Volunteers for the Army were frowned on as it upset the

    regular training schedules - didn't matter what they called it - you were in for five

  5. This is a very difficult question to answer and I'm not sure Service Records distinguish between what were originally quaintly entitled 'Militia Men' (conscripts) and volunteers.

    Before the war all TA men enlisted or were attested (Army Form E501 headed 'Attestation of ...') for 4 years service. On mobilisation they were 'embodied' - normally shown by a rubber stamp on Army Form B220b. Key personnel were embodied first followed by other members of the unit over the following few days at the end of August 1939. I'm not sure how Militia men were treated - it was intended they should carry out 6 months training and then be placed on the Reserve. The first group was called up in July 1939 and hadn't completed their training so just carried on - on enlistment the terms of engagement would be spelt out and maybe they had to be embodied to avoid having to be released at the end of their 6 months. I believe all wartime recruits were taken into the TA (just as all such RAF recruits were part of RAFVR). My wife's grandfather who had been a Regular between 1906 and 1932, volunteered in December 1939 at the age of 48 and his Service Record shows he joined the TA 'until the end of the period of embodiment ..' (Army Form E531). This seems to have been a measure agreed in the 1920s to avoid the chaos caused by the Kitchener volunteers being recruited outside the established TA structure.

  6. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    If the object of this thread is to identify correct terminology, then "Conscription Acts" is not a helpful phrase. There has never been a British Act of Parliament entitled 'Conscription Act'. The initial act relating to WW2 conscription was the Military Training Act 1939. The subsequent acts were the National Service (Armed Forces) Acts, beginning with the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939.
  7. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    The term 'Militia Men' in relation to WW2 was used solely for the men called up under the Military Training Act 1939. It was not used for men called up under the National Service (Armed Forces) Acts.
  8. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    I can certainly bow to your superior knowledge once more

  9. Skip

    Skip Senior Member

    Thank you to everyone who has answered. Things are a lot clearer now, especially all wartime recruits being channeled through the TA - that alone clarifies many service records. As always this forum has come up trumps and the help is much appreciated.
  10. hutt

    hutt Member

    I posted a query about this a while ago and this thread has now provided some useful answers.

    I would however, be interested as to why my father was 'embodied' on 2 separate occasions in August 1939 as it appears he was in the same unit on both occasions.

    One bit of family history is that by joining the TA pre war, my father may have had some degree of control as to what he eventually did. Does this sound plausible?

  11. resurgam

    resurgam Junior Member

    Not exactly a carry on from the above thread, but have a query on a guy I am researching, Daniel Joseph Brennan, Royal Arillary Attestation papers for WWII. His service number was 1147452 and in the column marked "Transfers to other Corps or cause of becoming non-effective and record of re-enlistment (if any)" ..... under this column it states Army Class (Failed to report) to G S Corps 2 7 42. Any ideas on what this means and how I can find any further information?

  12. Skip

    Skip Senior Member


    Hoping someone will have a definitive answer. From a selection of service records I can see when someone was a pre-war member of the TA and was embodied at the outbreak of war. However, how can I tell from later service records, i.e. during the war, whether men were called up or voluntarily enlisted? Is there any foolproof indicator?

    Any help much appreciated ...


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