THE last conscripts began their National Service 50 years ago.
From 1939 to 1960 two million men – including thousands from Huddersfield – were called up to serve their country.
Reg Brook, of Meltham, began his National Service in January 1944 with basic training in Omagh, Northern Ireland.
After a brief spell with the West Yorkshire Regiment, he joined 8 Para Battalion and was sent to Palestine in early 1945.
Reg, 88, remembers serving in the country as it slid into civil war between Jews and Arabs.
“We were doing patrols, putting curfews on and fighting the terrorists of the Irgun and the Lehi.
“In 1946 I discovered an arms dump in the Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv. I was looking in through a grille when I saw a kit-bag of army uniforms.
“When we got in there we found arms and ammunition as well. They had been using the uniforms to trick their way into barracks and seize the weapons.”
Reg, originally from Kirkburton, was demobbed in 1947 and went on to work as an engineer.
He believes National Service did him good.
Reg, who is president of the Royal British Legion in Meltham, said: “I enjoyed it. There was a great camaraderie in the Paras.
“National Service brought you out, it made you more confident and independent and taught you discipline.”
But Reg, who was an apprentice fitter when he was conscripted, added: “I was going to the tech when I was called up.
“Some people don’t need that interruption.”
Fellow Meltham man Derek Brook – no relation to Reg – also did National Service.
He was called up in February 1952 and joined the West Yorkshire Regiment. He served as projectionist at York training camp until he was demobbed in 1954.
“They were happy times,” he said.
“I enjoyed my sport, especially rugby league, though we played union in the forces.”
Mr Brook, 77, went on to work in mills around Huddersfield.
He believes National Service should be brought back.
“It gave us discipline and respect for other people, which is something we’re short of today,”he said.
“Bringing it back would be an excellent idea.”
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