Tag Archives: National Servicemen

A DEBT OF GRATITUDE!

15 Oct

It is in my own opinion, that I think all ex-national Servicemen have been shabbily treated, since conscription was abolished. Not one mention of gratitude from successive governments was forthcoming. It is 74 years ago, since due to the second World war that an act of parliament brought national service into being. At that perilous time, it was a just act and for that there is no argument. When victory came in 1945 a new parliament act was brought in making all able bodied male, liable for conscription into one of the services. If one did not have a trade they went in the forces at 18 years of age. The men who had an apprenticeship or went to University were called up when they had finished their learning etc. Usually their ages on conscription were 21 or 22 years old, but the odd one escaped the net through faking medical problems etc.
Due to the Korean War, where many National servicemen served, the length of service was increased from 18 months to 2 years. One must remember, they were not volunteers like the regular army. The national servicemen served and fought shoulder to shoulder with the regular servicemen throughout the world, until call up was abolished in late 1960. Most of the last National servicemen were demobbed in 1962 There were some of the late call up men, that had to serve an extra six months, if they were stationed in Germany and were therefore demobbed early 1963. I believe it broke a few hearts, when they learned that they had to serve an extra 6 months as one can imagine. For all National Servicemen to be called up, to serve 2 years in what was termed the best years of their lives. One has to remember the pay in the forces for a National serviceman was in present day money £1.50 pence, a complete pittance. Can anyone imagine the youngsters of today, enduring that weekly wage for two years? I am not going into all the ins and outs of time served in the forces, because national service turned boys into men and made them stand on their own two feet and be counted.
The brave men who fought in Burma during WW2 were once called the forgotten army. I believe National Servicemen have been put in that category by successive governments. The youngest of these ex-servicemen are now over 72 years of age and as you are aware in the twilight of their lives. Surely it is not too late for a government to say some form of thank you, for what you all did so long ago.

Alan

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NATIONAL SERVICE

24 Sep

I know most readers know about national Service and many no doubt will have been a National serviceman, but for the one’s that do not, including students. I hope what is written below helps you understand.
National service came into being in September 1939 by an act of parliament at the outbreak of the Second World War. Britain had a regular army, but it was not up to strength for the conflict that at the time was foreseeable. The men called up in this act were eighteen up to thirty plus, who were not working down the mines or working in armament or aircraft factories or shipbuilding yards. The men who were exempt were classed has reserved occupational as you are aware men and women who worked in the factories etc. during wartime, were just as essential as men on the front line are. I have to point out, those men who were employed in armament and shipbuilding etc. tried in there thousands to join up during WW2. It was to no avail, because of their strategic work they were always turned down. It upset them, because they thought serving personnel would look down on them as dodgers and they certainly were not.

After the war in 1945 all this changed with a new act of parliament. This decreed all male personnel in the British Isles, barring coal miners aged between eighteen and twenty-five years of age had to do eighteen months National service in one of the three services. This went up to two years’ service at the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, much to the dismay of the national servicemen.

After hostilities ceased in 1945 and with the new national service act in force. The national servicemen served alongside the regular servicemen in all theatres of operation throughout the world. India became a large posting for thousands of troops during the India and Pakistan struggle for independence. While all this was going on, a further large presence of troops were engaged in Palestine, of which even to this present day is so frustrating. The fifties were a powder keg of problems for the British services with the Malaya campaign, Korean War and the Mau Mau terrorism in Kenya. Also the EOKA terrorism in Cyprus in the middle fifties alongside the Suez crisis became a big problem. At the same time many countries in Africa and of the old British Empire were gaining their independence, similar to the British Cameroons where my own regiment was posted. Not forgetting the large garrison of troops that were stationed all over Germany and Great Britain
All men called up had to undergo X-rays and a full medical, before being passed fit for service. Lads who had no trade mostly went into the services when only eighteen. Tradesmen went in when their apprenticeship was complete at the age of twenty-one. University students were called up after obtaining their degrees. Some men went into the Merchant navy, but they could not leave until they had completed five years’ service or reached the age of twenty-six. If they left before completing their five years etc. they were liable to be called up for national service.
The shrinking Royal Navy dispensed with national servicemen in the early fifties. The bulk of national servicemen went mostly into the various Corps and regiments of the British Army, with a smaller percentage going into the Royal Air Force.
What is paramount, I cannot forget without writing of the steadfast work of the NCOs and officers of the services. They had the enviable task of training the countless thousands of national servicemen over the years. Also the expertise passed on by the regular servicemen was appreciated by most.
During 1960 National service was terminated, and barring an odd one most national servicemen were demobilised in 1962.
As one can see in the areas British forces served in the years of the national servicemen, was some task for such a small country. Although not fully appreciated, it could not have been achieved without those young men who served their two – year call up. I must add this; during the national service years Great Britain had the cream of the country serving in the forces. Those men were always to the fore in everything the services could offer, whether it was sport, drilling, discipline, smartness and soldiering. There is no doubt everyone who had to do their national service, knows deep down that it did them no harm whatsoever. Strangely it is only years later and well after demobilisation that one comes to that conclusion. They all went in as boys and came out as men and no doubt, better men indeed.
There is situated at Lichfield in Staffordshire the National Memorial Arboreturn and at the site there is a national memorial to all those who undertook National Service. Many national Servicemen lost their lives during their service for their country and their names are inscribed on the memorial. The Veterans community has acknowledged the last Sunday in June each year as National Service Day.The National Service Veterans Association also organizes an annual service of commemoration at the Memorial each year. Details of the event can be obtained from the Association via their website: http://www.seniorsnetwork.co.uk/nsva/index.htm.
The country has recognized all Service personnel, including National Servicemen, who have died since the end of the Second World War, while on duty or as a result of terrorist attack, by the creation of the Armed Forces Memorial, which is also located at the NMA. Details can be found at http://www.forcesmemorial.org.uk/.

For readers who want to learn more. I have written my own memoirs of the time building up to call up and the two years I served. It will give one plenty of insight to what their fathers, uncles and grandfathers went through many years ago.
It is on my web site http://www.getingetoutandgetaway.co.uk. The book itself is available from Amazon on a kindle e-book. I pad / I Phone or PC apps – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Get-Out-Away-National-Serviceman/dp/B0050I6A2E

Alan
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Military Interest – National Service Compensation

6 Feb

Hello Everybody
The British Forces for the over last 50 years has been all regular and are highly trained. In this modern technical age of computers Ordnance and armaments the training has certainly got to be of a high standard. The downside for the British soldier in the war zones, firstly Iraq and now more prominently Afghanistan are the Improvised Exploding Devices (I.E.Ds) The patrols in the bandit areas take longer, because of the care being taken in trying to locate these mines. All this has to be done before the patrol can make contact with the enemy. The damage the IEDs cause if not lethal are horrendous, their comrades in the vicinity are left with mental scars which sometimes can never be healed.
In this present day our returning service men and women on returning from Afghanistan get counselling if required and quite rightly so they should. The weekly pay of the serviceman particularly the ground troops who are putting their lives on the line should be in a high bracket. When you see and hear what the present day footballers in the premiership get paid, just for kicking a leather ball about, it makes my blood boil.
Also 50 years ago National Service came to an end, 22 years after it was started. It came into being in 1940 when our country was at war with Germany and we were threatened by the jackboot. Many brave men lost their lives on the Land, Sea and Air in achieving victory. When the war ended in 1945 National Service continued and men being called up eventually ended in 1960. The conflicts in the post war years the National Servicemen served in were Palestine, Korea, Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus, Suez, and Oman. There were peace keeping roles in Germany and the Cameroons. Also many men served at the various camps on British soil.
Millions of National Servicemen served in the British forces over the 22 years and many men lost their lives in the numerous conflicts serving their country. The wages they received depending where you were serving was in present day money of £1.50p to £2.50p a week. One week you could be in a conflict the next week one could be taking their demob and the following week back in a civilian job. No counselling and no money in the pocket. The ex-National Servicemen are certainly a forgotten breed, let down by successive governments. The youngest that are left, are all in their seventies now and getting less every year.
Surely at this late stage in their lives, this indeed brave breed of men should get some form of recognition and compensation for what they did for their country many years ago.
Alan

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