Author(s): Colin Shindler
Permission to speak, Sah! In the aftermath of the Second World War, over two million men were conscripted to serve in Britain's armed services. Some were sent abroad and watched their friends die in combat. Others remained in barracks and painted coal white. But despite delivering such varied experiences, National Service helped to shape the outlook of an entire generation of young British males. Historian Dr Colin Shindler has interviewed a wide range of ex-conscripts, from all backgrounds, across all ranks, and spanning the entire fourteen years that peacetime conscription lasted, and captured their memories in this engrossing book. From them, we experience the tension of a postwar Berlin surrounded by Russians, the exotic heat and colour of Tripoli in 1948, the brief but intense flashpoint of the Suez Crisis, and the fear of the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya. But we also hear about the other end of the scale, the conscripts who didn't make it outside the confines of their barracks, or in one case, beyond his home town.
Through these conversations we learn as much about the changing attitudes of servicemen as war became more of a distant memory as we do about the varied nature of their experiences. We see, too, the changing face of British society across these pivotal years, which span everything from the coronation of Elizabeth II, to the birth of rock 'n' roll, to the beginning of the end of the Empire. The stories within these pages are fascinating. And they deserve to be told before they are lost forever.
A groundbreaking look at life as a conscript during Britain's postwar National Service, as told by the men who served. Published to tie in with the 50th anniversary of the end of conscription.
The book bears witness to the sheer variety, cussedness, and inventiveness of humanity during the Cold War years -- Denis Judd BBC History Magazine
Colin Shindler is an author, broadcaster and Affiliated Lecturer in History at Cambridge University. For twenty years he was a Bafta award winning television writer and producer being responsible for the series Lovejoy and the motion picture Buster starring Phil Collins and Julie Walters for which he wrote the screenplay. In recent years he has written a series of books on British and American social history and written and presented documentaries for BBC Television and written plays for BBC Radio Four. He lectures in British and American cultural history with an emphasis on the impact of both sport and film on twentieth century society.