The Royal British Legion (RBL) has initiated a campaign named ‘Ask Dad/Ask Grandad’ with the aim of uncovering concealed National Service heroes in anticipation of the upcoming 60th-anniversary celebrations, marking the demobilization of the last serviceman from National Service on May 16, 1963.
RBL has extended an invitation to all National Service veterans and their relatives to partake in ‘Remembering National Service – 60 years on’, a commemorative event scheduled for May 16 at the National Memorial Arboretum.
The occasion will pay tribute to the courage, dedication, and sacrifices made by the National Service generation, who were drafted between 1947 and 1963, when they were 17-21 years old. Given that former conscripted service members are currently aged between 80 and 97 years old, RBL asks families with members in this age range to inquire with their fathers or grandfathers about their possible National Service involvement, helping to identify previously unrecognized National Service veterans.
Philippa Rawlinson, the Director of Remembrance at the Royal British Legion, urged the public to locate more of the overlooked National Service heroes who might have downplayed their contributions and not discussed them with their loved ones.
Following the Second World War, over two million men were drafted, and 395 National Servicemen lost their lives during active duty. Their names are inscribed on the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum. Serving as the RBL and the nation’s year-round commemorative site, the National Memorial Arboretum is a 150-acre garden and woodland area located within the National Forest in Staffordshire and is also the location of the National Service Memorial.
With the youngest conscripts now in their 80s, RBL estimates that several hundred thousand National Service veterans remain alive. Philippa encourages as many veterans and their families as possible to participate in the ‘Remembering National Service – 60 years on’ event in May. Attendees will have the opportunity to view a new National Service 60 exhibition, which will be displayed at the National Memorial Arboretum until June 20 this year.
The RBL website provides registration for all National Service veterans, grieving families, and descendants to take part in ‘Remembering National Service – 60 years on’, with applications closing on Monday, April 24.
- Photo by Museums Victoria: picryl