On this day in history : 26th June 1939 – Private Rupert Alexander, Service No. 10000001, signs up to the Middlesex Regiment, as Britain’s first National Serviceman….
The Spring of 1939 saw the deterioration of international relations and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had to consider necessary preparations in case Britain found itself at war with Nazi Germany…. Parliament approved the Military Training Act which required men to undertake 6 months military training…. In the beginning this was limited to men between the ages of 20 to 22…. Some 240,000 registered for service….
War was declared on the 3rd of September 1939 and the National Service (Armed Forces) Act came in…. Now all men between 18 to 41 had to register…. There were some exemptions, such as those medically unfit and some key professionals, including farmers, engineers, bakers, doctors and the clergy…. Tribunals were held for conscientious objectors – who were usually assigned essential non-combat tasks it their hearings were successful….
In December 1941 a second National Service Act was passed…. The age was extended for men, up to the age of 60…. It meant all men up to this age were expected to do some sort of war effort work, such as police and civilian defence – those under the age of 51 were required to be available for military service….
All unmarried women, or widows without children, between the ages of 20 to 30 were liable to be called up to do work related to the war…. Pregnant women were not exempt but were generally not called up….