Jonathan Scott dusts down the fam­ily ar­chive and goes in search of use­ful web­sites re­lat­ing to Na­tional Ser­vice.

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Jonathan Scott shares the best sites to use to in­ves­ti­gate your fore­bear’s na­tional ser­vice

The Na­tional Ser­vice Act 1948 was es­sen­tially a re­fine­ment of the 1939 act of the same name. The first brought in com­pul­sory mil­i­tary ser­vice at the start of war, the se­cond ce­mented a post-war pe­riod of Bri­tish mass con­scrip­tion that would last nearly two decades and call up around 2.5 mil­lion men.

Many came to ap­pre­ci­ate their Na­tional Ser­vice. You can find rem­i­nis­cences full of ap­pre­ci­a­tion for a sense of dis­ci­pline in­stilled, for op­por­tu­ni­ties to travel and see the world, and for new skills learnt. Ask my fa­ther about his Na­tional Ser­vice, how­ever, and the pic­ture he gives is one of a lonely grind, ter­ri­ble food, vi­o­lence and ver­bal sav­agery, long stretches of te­dium bro­ken by oc­ca­sional drunk­en­ness, and a chain of com­mand largely pop­u­lated by id­i­otic job­sworths.

Na­tional Ser­vice for­mally ended on 31 De­cem­ber 1960. The last man called up, Pri­vate Fred Turner of the Army Cater­ing Corps, was dis­charged in May 1963.

Bri­tish sol­diers in Lon­don wave good­bye be­fore set­ting out for Korea in 1950

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