Hampshire Cultural Trust

National Service in Aldershot

  • Tavalera Barracks

    Interior of Barrack room, Talavera Barracks, 1949
    Talavera Barracks was built between 1856 and 1859. After use by Canadian units during the Second World War it was used for National Servicemen until it was demolished in 1960. This is a typical scene of National Service Army ritual with all of the soldier's clothing and equipment laid out for inspection. Often soldiers would sleep on the floor the night before an inspection to prevent their perfectly made beds from being spoiled.

     

  • Cleaning kit

    Royal Army Service Corps, cleaning kit outside barrack room, Oudenarde Barracks, Aldershot, 1949
    This would have been a very familiar sight in Aldershot in the immediate post war years up until the early 1960s. Here webbing equipment is cleaned. The men are wearing 'denims', a washable uniform worn when cleaning, in place of the normal wool serge.

     

  • King George VI meeting RSM R Brittain

    King George VI meeting RSM R Brittain at Mons Barracks, c1950
    Mons Officer Cadet Training Unit was Aldershot's most famous training unit during the National Service era. During its existence over 50 000 officers passed out from it. Its most famous Sergeant Major was RSM Brittain pictured left. Such was his notoriety that he enjoyed a career in advertising and voice over work after his army service.

     

  • Guard at Mons Barracks

    Guard at Mons Barracks, c1950
    The Guard Room was a pivotal part of a military unit's barracks. Here soldiers would be signed in and out of the barracks. Their appearance was always checked before their departure from barracks - hence the mirror. Similarly soldiers returning to barracks late, or drunk could be placed in the cells for the night, before being charged and disciplined for the offence the following day.

     

  • Parade

    Parade, Grosvenor Road, Aldershot, 1954
    This parade was staged to celebrate the centenary of the Army's presence in Aldershot. Here, some of the 3 500 troops who were in the parade pass the saluting base where the General Officer Commanding Aldershot District and the Mayor of Aldershot take the salute. A high proportion of those taking part in the parade would have been National Servicemen.

     

  • Posed group of soldiers

    Royal Army Service Corps, barrack blocks, Oudenarde Barracks, Aldershot, 1949
    When National Service was ended in 1960 rows of barrack blocks like this one were entirely demolished. Numbers of soldiers in Aldershot were to diminish significantly, and those that were part of the new military Aldershot would be quartered in four man rooms - the culture of barrack life would change significantly.

     

 

Seymour Jennings

The story of National Serviceman, Corporal Seymour Jennings, Aldershot 1957 - 1959

Jack Skelton Wallace

Jack Skelton Wallace, Ramillies Barracks, 1953 (above)
Like so many of his generation having been conscripted for National Service, Jack Skelton Wallace spent several weeks at Aldershot adjusting to life in the Army. He enlisted into the Army Catering Corps, which trained a large number of its recruits in Aldershot.