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National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939

What did the Act achieve?

This Act made it compulsory for men aged between 18 and 41 who lived in the UK to join the armed forces. It came into force on the very day that the UK declared war on Germany.

Conscription meant that the number of men available for active service went up dramatically. Although the Act enforced full conscription, some people were allowed exemptions. These included conscientious objectors, people who were considered ‘medically unfit', and people who worked in protected jobs like engineering.