Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by PeteT, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. Nigelk

    Nigelk Junior Member

    Many thanks for your replies, I'm almost beginning to feel confident about this now, heading and fall spring to mind, though!

    I'm assuming the Universities didn't suddenly 'empty' of students who fitted the various 'cohort' ages, but do you think it may well have been the case that some students were deferred simply because there may have been too many people to potentially enlist?

    A possible example might be a student who registers in autumn '39 as being in the 'cohort' age and then has his enlistment deferred by whichever service they wanted to join until after his studies regardless of the type of course they are studying and potentially regardless of them being a student. Is that a likely scenario?

    I suppose what I'm also asking is at the start of the war were there more people at enlistment age than the armed forces could actually deal with/need?

    Also, with regard to volunteering for the RAF was it the case that some 19/20/21 year olds were deferred for a period of more than a year after the outbreak of war simply because there were already enough volunteers?

    I think that's it ........... thanks in advance, regards, Nigel
  2. PeteT

    PeteT Senior Member


    Personnel did not always get called up immediately after fulfilling their obligation to register; as an example, the RAF held personnel on reserve for six months.

    Do you have a specific person with specific dates that you are researching?


  3. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member


    Thanks for that clarification about "postponement". I am more familiar with National Service liability for students post-1945, by which time "deferment" seems to have come into use.

    On the main point, we certainly agree that in WW2 all men, including students, had to register on their designated cohort date, regardless of whether they then got a postponement certificate.
  4. Nigelk

    Nigelk Junior Member

    Gentlemen, many thanks.

    Pete, I'm not researching anyone in particular, over the last few months I've been reading about Bomber Command and starting penning a 'fictional' crew. The more you scratch the surface the more you find which is what got me researching enlistment just to understand how young men actually got to join the armed forces.

    It's easy to imagine thousands of people trying to join up on Sept 3/4, but that never actually happened in reality!

    I wonder if you think the scenario whereby a 19 year old University student at the outbreak of war could volunteer for the air force at some stage and not actually end up commencing their training until 1941 is actually valid or not?

    Also, my understanding is that at the start of the war 18-20 year olds were not originally required, but could they still volunteer in the early weeks of the war and await call-up at a later date? I've read your excellent summary above so many times I think I'm going round in circles!

    Regards, Nigel
  5. PeteT

    PeteT Senior Member


    I notice that you are now talking about him volunteering, which is a different scenario to him being "called up for service" (as there are no obligatory registration dates involved)

    Assuming he volunteered in September / October 1939, was accepted and passed his medical, he would have been placed on the register of men available to the armed services.

    In your example his name would have been on that register for over a year .... whether that is a realistic scenario I don't know (my research to date has not thrown up that particular set of circumstances). However , with the number of men involved it may well be a hypothetical possibility.


  6. Nigelk

    Nigelk Junior Member

    Pete, Thanks for the response, I've been thinking about this all evening and I think I've now narrowed my quest down to the following points/questions:

    1) My understanding is that 18 - 20 year olds were not orginally subject to enlistment/registering at the outbreak of war in Sept '39 - in which case when were they? I guess the answer to that lies in Parker?

    2) Re: my 19 year old - if they were 20, in say the summer of 1940, could they hypothetically have then volunteered for the RAF (having been 'exempted' until their 20th birthday), remain on the register for 6 months or so and then get called up in 1941? Or, would their enlistment date have 'caught' them up by then?

    3) Was it the case that the average age of Bomber Command pilots became 'younger' as the war went on i.e. as the war progressed, each year there was always a new 'pool' of 18 year olds joining up to be trained, whereas at the start of the war the pool of potential trainees/pilots included more older recruits until the enlistment age was lowered to include 18-20 year olds?

    In reality, I would love to know what proportion of pilots in Bomber Command undertaking their first operational tours in 1943 were, if at all, aged 22 and over.


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