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National Service

Ray Griffiths

master brummie
For many years governments have spoke about striking a medal for the thousands National Service wouldn’t it be nice if in the Jubilee Years it could happen,the Queen must met many thousands of NS lads during her reign and the number still living must be reducing every year. Most NS lads didn’t like being compulsory called up, many had served time to get a trade on peanut wages coming into trade wages only to be give the peanut wage again for two years. I for one started on 23 shillings and 9p a week and finishing my time on £3, taking my trade up I went up to £10 a week 6 months later I called up married with young child. I started my army service on 23 shilling and my wife and child £5 and 5 Shillings a week living with my in-laws as you did in them days. On discharge I had the total sum of £39 and returned to trade which kept a week hand and it was 5 years before I was able to buy a house. It was the worst house in the road we were glad of a roof over our heads the neighbours used to call it rhubarb and custard house it was painted red & yellow but we worked at it and made a home of it. My wife and I had no help with money wise to do what we did no holidays no car no phone for five years and worked hard for the rest of light to achieve a nice life later life. It hasn’t been easy like thousands like my self, but I get up set when I hear youngster say it’s alright you. living through the war years and hard times my wife and I are very happy with our life and what we have achieved though hard work and being and only having what I can afford.
Im convinced NS was necessary for the country, you went into NS a youngster but you come out an adult.

Would some sort of NS benefit the youngster of to day.
 

NoddKD

master brummie
Maybe not a medal, perhaps a badge? Last year I bought my husband a Veterans Badge with a poppy from the British Legion, he always wears his plain Veterans Badge on his coat lapel.
rosie.
Outside of the forces very few people recognise the veterans badge.Though it can be worn whenever we feel like it,unlike medals which can rarely be worn.

NoddKD
 

Richard Dye

master brummie
For many years governments have spoke about striking a medal for the thousands National Service wouldn’t it be nice if in the Jubilee Years it could happen,the Queen must met many thousands of NS lads during her reign and the number still living must be reducing every year. Most NS lads didn’t like being compulsory called up, many had served time to get a trade on peanut wages coming into trade wages only to be give the peanut wage again for two years. I for one started on 23 shillings and 9p a week and finishing my time on £3, taking my trade up I went up to £10 a week 6 months later I called up married with young child. I started my army service on 23 shilling and my wife and child £5 and 5 Shillings a week living with my in-laws as you did in them days. On discharge I had the total sum of £39 and returned to trade which kept a week hand and it was 5 years before I was able to buy a house. It was the worst house in the road we were glad of a roof over our heads the neighbours used to call it rhubarb and custard house it was painted red & yellow but we worked at it and made a home of it. My wife and I had no help with money wise to do what we did no holidays no car no phone for five years and worked hard for the rest of light to achieve a nice life later life. It hasn’t been easy like thousands like my self, but I get up set when I hear youngster say it’s alright you. living through the war years and hard times my wife and I are very happy with our life and what we have achieved though hard work and being and only having what I can afford.
Im convinced NS was necessary for the country, you went into NS a youngster but you come out an adult.

Would some sort of NS benefit the youngster of to day.
I think so sort of community service would help! Both of out children did some in the summer while at University. Each summer they would spend a month with under privileged families and communities, un paid except room and food. Not the same as NS but they got to understand other lifestyles and made them better.
 

Morturn

Super Moderator
Staff member
I think so sort of community service would help! Both of out children did some in the summer while at University. Each summer they would spend a month with under privileged families and communities, un paid except room and food. Not the same as NS but they got to understand other lifestyles and made them better.
In the uk the Duke of Edinburgh Award was a super scheme for young people. I worked on it as an expedition leader and have seen what an opportunity it can be for young people to learn new skills, make new friends and do something in the community.

When interviewing, I was always interested in candidates who had a DofE award. It showed that they could get their act together with minimal supervision.
 

Richard Dye

master brummie
In the uk the Duke of Edinburgh Award was a super scheme for young people. I worked on it as an expedition leader and have seen what an opportunity it can be for young people to learn new skills, make new friends and do something in the community.

When interviewing, I was always interested in candidates who had a DofE award. It showed that they could get their act together with minimal supervision.
Mort, I agree.....I have a DofE award and two of my grandchildren were on Outward Bound, and two more will go this summer. When I was interviewing mostly engineers, I always looked at those going to university at night or occasional days. That's what I did and I always felt if they had the stamina and attitude to carry it through they really wanted what they were trying for. Many people I went to university with were married with children as was I.
 

paul stacey

master brummie
You can purchase a NS Medal Ray, I agree it would have been nice if you had been issued one for the valuable service , you young lads did, and of course many died , on Campaign service. I could have a "Cold War", BOAR, and a couple of others they strike now but am not bothered, myself. One medal that should have been issued by a Government was the Christmas Island , nuclear test, really a stain on the memory of so many lads, from all arms of the service, including NS, who were, later crippled with disease, and subsequent disability, its the greatest shame on their memory!!!
 

Ray Griffiths

master brummie
Mort, I agree.....I have a DofE award and two of my grandchildren were on Outward Bound, and two more will go this summer. When I was interviewing mostly engineers, I always looked at those going to university at night or occasional days. That's what I did and I always felt if they had the stamina and attitude to carry it through they really wanted what they were trying for. Many people I went to university with were married with children as was I.
Thanks Richard I didn’t think one was available
Rebards Ray
 

oldbrit

OldBrit in Exile
Because, when I was 18, I worked for William Bloye the sculptor, plus was a bike rider and racer. When I went into the RAF I was assigned as a BATMAN to a sports officer, Great I thought!! But then I found that he hated cycling, so for two years I did nothing, I could not ride or race on my bike, but work in the officer's mess, plus iron his pants polish his shoes and vacuum his house. BUT I made the best of it and have to admit, I did have fun with mate mates, So the two years of my life were not really wasted. But when I was demobbed, I ended up having to take a different direction in my life. So NS is a pretty sour note for me.
 

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johnny082

master brummie
Must have been so frustrating to think you're going to be able to do something you liked and then be landed with cleaning etc. I was so glad that, being a technical kind of guy, I was able to train as an aircraft engine mechanic. Certainly proved useful in civvy street to repair all my old bangers I bought.
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
This old thread popped up and I've had a read through about those strange times when most teenagers were conscripted into military national service. Most of us did not want to leave civilian life but there was no legal way of avoiding it so off we went thinking 'well we've all got to do it'.

I went into the RAF which suited me because from early childhood I was very interested in aviation. My Dad worked at the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory and would tell me all about building Spitfires. Although he spent the day working on aircraft he built model aeroplanes in the evenings as I watched and sometimes 'helped'. Often we had to leave the model and rush to the air raid shelter when a raid started.

The RAF trained me as an instrument technician working on aircraft which was something I liked doing so I was lucky ... :)
 
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Ray Griffiths

master brummie
I remember a number sportsman who cheated the system, one an England cricketer bowler had flat feet.
Terry Dean pop star got discharged on mental grounds he was in the Green Jackets. I was told if you clean your teeth with tooth paste it give a heart flutter it didn’t work. I was in the Royal Engineers. Reg Mud of the Mudlarks was made entertainment NCO, Footballer of Chelsea he refused to play for the Army team they posted him abroad to make it difficult to play Chelsea. We had John Ogston Scotland goalkeeper he end up Regimental police, aprofessional rugby player went to Sandhurst for officer training. I expect a lot of NS have stories like this.
I didn’t do too bad I was trained Unit Projectionist got feed up with showing old American war films, had interview with RHQ Major he give me the post RHQ pay NCO plus 3 shillings and sixpence for a tape.
So the next 18 months wasn’t bad my pay roll included higher NCO,s and other ranks they was quite pleasant. I expect you say I was NS when they didn’t need thank goodness
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
I suspect that being yanked away from your home for two years without any right of appeal, being treated with little respect and consideration, having to survive on pretty cr*p food, knowing that your well-being and general happiness were wholly in the hands of others (some of whom you viewed with nil confidence or respect - by no means all, but some); knowing that you were wasting a period - representing 10% of your total time on earth to date - before getting back to a proper life.... ... all that might, just conceivably, be a just cause now, in the 21st century, for an appeal to some Court of Human Rights or other.

For me, I'm glad I did it. In the first six months I learned everything which was going to be of value to me later - loyalty to mates who were in exactly the same boat; how to put your head down and just get on with it without debate, however stupid the instruction or unappealing the task; ways of avoiding that sort of work in the first place; an inkling of what it feels like to be the lowest of the low, vulnerable, without rights and with little expectation of consideration; and, pulling much of that together, how NOT to manage and motivate others. The further 18 months was a period of repeating of all these lessons and, whatever contribution was made to the defence of the country which is why I was there, those months did little for me personally.

There were optional escapes. What about a nice trip to a desert island off the Australian Coast to help us in our research into nuclear explosions? Or a week or three being injected with experimental new treatments for the common cold? Er - no thanks, I'll pass on those. And I was fortunate in not being involved in the not-so-optional escapes of fighting in the Malayan jungle, or tracking down the Mau Mau in Kenya, or being shot at by terrorists in Cyprus. Others weren't so lucky and returned to Mum's cooking damaged and changed.

And there was the fleeting, dim awareness of the sacrifices made by those not much older than us - in my case, my elder brother, four long years in the 8th Army, the fathers of some of my friends, away for years in Burma or India or Malta, or fighting their way through France and Holland and Belgium and Germany, or spending long years as guests of the Japanese after the fall of Singapore. Or, in the case of some boys barely older than me, crouching in trenches in the Korean winter and fighting off the Red Army hordes. The aerodrome I was on had been the base for Lancaster squadrons only nine years previously. Perhaps the officer there who now treated you rather like something he had just trodden into on the pavement had been amongst the heroes on those missions, here or at another East Anglian aerodrome. With hindsight, I wish I had thought these thoughts rather more frequently and carefully at the time and had used them to put my frustrations and resentment into a better perspective ...... Another useful lesson learned from National Service, even if belatedly.

Chris
 

Ray Griffiths

master brummie
I suspect that being yanked away from your home for two years without any right of appeal, being treated with little respect and consideration, having to survive on pretty cr*p food, knowing that your well-being and general happiness were wholly in the hands of others (some of whom you viewed with nil confidence or respect - by no means all, but some); knowing that you were wasting a period - representing 10% of your total time on earth to date - before getting back to a proper life.... ... all that might, just conceivably, be a just cause now, in the 21st century, for an appeal to some Court of Human Rights or other.

For me, I'm glad I did it. In the first six months I learned everything which was going to be of value to me later - loyalty to mates who were in exactly the same boat; how to put your head down and just get on with it without debate, however stupid the instruction or unappealing the task; ways of avoiding that sort of work in the first place; an inkling of what it feels like to be the lowest of the low, vulnerable, without rights and with little expectation of consideration; and, pulling much of that together, how NOT to manage and motivate others. The further 18 months was a period of repeating of all these lessons and, whatever contribution was made to the defence of the country which is why I was there, those months did little for me personally.

There were optional escapes. What about a nice trip to a desert island off the Australian Coast to help us in our research into nuclear explosions? Or a week or three being injected with experimental new treatments for the common cold? Er - no thanks, I'll pass on those. And I was fortunate in not being involved in the not-so-optional escapes of fighting in the Malayan jungle, or tracking down the Mau Mau in Kenya, or being shot at by terrorists in Cyprus. Others weren't so lucky and returned to Mum's cooking damaged and changed.

And there was the fleeting, dim awareness of the sacrifices made by those not much older than us - in my case, my elder brother, four long years in the 8th Army, the fathers of some of my friends, away for years in Burma or India or Malta, or fighting their way through France and Holland and Belgium and Germany, or spending long years as guests of the Japanese after the fall of Singapore. Or, in the case of some boys barely older than me, crouching in trenches in the Korean winter and fighting off the Red Army hordes. The aerodrome I was on had been the base for Lancaster squadrons only nine years previously. Perhaps the officer there who now treated you rather like something he had just trodden into on the pavement had been amongst the heroes on those missions, here or at another East Anglian aerodrome. With hindsight, I wish I had thought these thoughts rather more frequently and carefully at the time and had used them to put my frustrations and resentment into a better perspective ...... Another useful lesson learned from National Service, even if belatedly.

Chris
I don’t think youngster have got the bottle these days, most of had just come through years of war. With food shortages definitely no tech items very little money and no freedom to do what we please.
I don’t think parents of today would be able to cope with family being taken away without any say, I wonder if human rights would be challenged.?
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Hear what you say in your first few words, Ray. But I have to feel that much the same would have been said about the young in 1938 by veterans of 1914-18 and we know now that that worked out wonderfully with all the younger generation stepping up to the mark.

I agree that younger generations today would find it even tougher to cope with NS than we did. Far greater privileges, much more a sense of independence and entitlement, less inclination to conform. They are a different bunch from what we were then but I'm pretty confident that if they were faced with a real crisis - a Ukraine, God forbid - they would do what was needed. Not so easy for them, though, if it was a peacetime call-up, like ours, which even at the time did sometimes seem pretty pointless.

Anyway, let's get away from the present and back to the history of N.S. which this thread is all about and to which we are all contributing.

Chris
 
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