Recollections of National Service Back to the Main Historical Society page
Back to the Barwicker Contents page

Recollections of National Service

From the Barwicker No.103
Sept 2011

In September 2010, a General topics meeting of the society was given up to a panel discussion by eight society members who had served their time in the services under the National Service scheme. 2010 marked the fiftieth year since the end of National Service was announced. It seemed a good opportunity to record a national event which will be of value in 30 or more years when there will be few if any National Service veterans left. All the participants were over seventy. The oldest speaker, Hugh Hawkins, started his service in 1944. The eight members of the panel were Tony Grieves (Army Pay Corps), Hugh Hawkins (Royal Engineers), Jack Moore (Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy), Frank Noble (Royal Artillery), Alan Senior (Royal Air Force), Harold Smith (Royal Military Police), Martin Tarpey (Royal Air Force) and Michael Teal (Royal Army Ordnance Corps).

The panel of National Service speakers

National Service ran for nearly twenty years. Under it all men were liable to serve a period in one of the armed service from the age of 18 or after the completion of trade training or full time education. Men attending university could choose to serve after leaving school or on graduation. Certain trades such as merchant seamanship were reserved occupations. Those who were medically unfit were not called-up. The period of service varied during the twenty years between 18 and two years but mostly it was the latter.

From experience, it is difficult to stop once people who did National Service once they start to talk about their service. Therefore the discussion was chaired and a prepared list of topics was tackled. In spite of this, we ran out of time, failed to complete all the topics and there was insufficient opportunity for the large number of members present to ask questions. It has been decided that a second session should take place in the November 2011. The first session was recorded and is to be held in the society's archives for future generations to get to know what was involved in being enlisted.

The next session will also be recorded. The next session will explore aspects of National Service which were not covered in the first session. The next session will also be chaired and there will be time for questions this time.

Footnote A recording of the second session is available from the society at a modest cost.

Harold Smith

Back to the top
Back to the Main Historical Society page
Back to the Barwicker Contents page