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Project Title: This Happens In War

Exhibition: "It was easier to put me in the Black Watch" National Service

In 1948 the National Service Act was passed. It made all young men liable for National Service in the armed forces. Service could be deferred, if a person was an apprentice or in full time education. Young men were sent to units at home and abroad. Some of those, in the Black Watch, were sent to the War in Korea and then to Kenya. National Service ended in December 1960. This exhibition relives the story of National Service through the reminiscences of Derek Halley, Jack Erskine, Harry Ellis, Jim Anderson, Bob Mitchell, Alasdair Masson and Ian Agnew. It also explores photographs, maps, documents and artefacts of that time.

Assets in this exhibition:

Call up for National Service

In 1948 Government passed The National Service Act which made all young men liable for military service from January 1949. Service was to be for a fixed period of 18 months with four years in the reserves. In 1950, the outbreak of the Korean War led to an amendment. The period of service was increased to two years with 3 and a half years in the reserves. National Service end on 31st December 1960 and the last soldier to be demobilised left the Army in May 1963.

Call up, however, could be deferred if men were in full time education or in apprenticeships. Jack Erskine was an apprentice blacksmith and farrier. Bob Mitchell was an apprentice joiner. Both had their call up deferred. As a jute mill mechanic Harry Ellis could not defer his call up; nor could Alistair Masson as a banking clerk. All the men were guaranteed their jobs back, for six months, when they returned from service. Ian Agnew chose to do his National Service before he went to University.

Before signing on, recruits were offered three year's service, as regular soldiers, with increased pay, and Jim Anderson took this option.