Book remembers National Service

PUBLISHED: 12:05 05 October 2006 | UPDATED: 21:19 29 May 2010

Historical Society Contributors (left to right) Michael Long, David Pickford, Ken Drury, John Kaye, Eric Gentry, Derek Springett, Jim Watson and Dick Langstaff. Not present: Bon Harrison and Norman Billett

Historical Society Contributors (left to right) Michael Long, David Pickford, Ken Drury, John Kaye, Eric Gentry, Derek Springett, Jim Watson and Dick Langstaff. Not present: Bon Harrison and Norman Billett

THE Great Dunmow Historical and Literary Society will release Get Some In, a book of memories of National Service, next month. Like last year s publication The War Years, the society has produced another vivid evocation of times remembered. Chairman Peter

THE Great Dunmow Historical and Literary Society will release Get Some In, a book of memories of National Service, next month.

Like last year's publication The War Years, the society has produced another vivid evocation of times remembered.

Chairman Peter Street said: "During the period 1945 to 1963 a generation of young men was required to serve in the armed forces, the only time in our history when peacetime conscription took place.

"Forty ex-National Servicemen, including 10 members of the society, now senior citizens, give rich and varied accounts of their experiences, serving in the UK and abroad - Germany, Sierra Leone, Cyprus, Palestine, Aden, Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea.

"These are live voices from a time when memory becomes history, a period just before it becomes mainly a subject for academic study."

In his foreword to the book, Max Poulter writes: "Many of these experiences were striking.

"The devastation and the steady gaze of starving children in Germany, a magical free cruise on a troopship to Palestine, which was an exciting adventure to a naïve lad of 18 who noted later how Jewish 'terrorists' became leaders in Israel; the realisation in Korea that KIA after names on a list meant 'killed in action'.

"Often the note is one of excitement or ingenuity. The establishment of a cage bird society in Singapore led to tea with the Crown Prince of Jahor, for a lad from Dagenham who had never seen such wealth; where he had been brought up 'you were rich if you owned a car'. A meeting with Louis Armstrong in the officers' mess in Sierra Leone, when Satchmo proved to be quiet and unassuming, and sad that he had not been received by the local people as a long lost brother.

"These, and many other individual experiences, depended on their local setting, but took place within the common framework of service life, which is strongly marked in every contribution."

The book has 196 pages (including 16 pages of photographs). It costs £9

(includes p&p) and is available from Great Dunmow Historical Society, to which cheques should be made payable, c/o The Old Post House, The Street, High Roding, CM6 1NR.

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