BEST WEBSITES: NATIONAL SERVICE
Jonathan Scott dusts down the family archive and goes in search of useful websites relating to National Service.
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