To commemorate the end of National Service 60 years ago, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is delighted to release a new podcast, hosted by Harry Bucknall, featuring the voices of British Army National Service veterans.

Harry talks to General the Lord David Richards, former Chief of the Defence Staff, and Army National Service veterans John Keatley, Howard Shaw, Stan Pell and Bob Sewell (both residents of Royal Star & Garter homes), and George Brown (resident with Stoll, the veterans’ housing charity).


Lord Richards explains why conscription was introduced and how national servicemen helped Britain meet its global responsibilities in the post-war period. On whether National Service should ever be reintroduced, he adds: “politically it is a non-starter, unless we were threatened by a great power” in a World War Three scenario.

Stan, who served with the Royal Signals, British Army of the Rhine, during the Berlin airlift, remembers his Army vehicle driver training. Howard recalls his time as a Royal Artillery officer cadet, serving alongside singing sons of Welsh miners and being drilled by a legendary Coldstream Guards RSM. George (Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, later The King’s Liverpool Regiment) and John (Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) both served in the Korean War and remind us about the sacrifices of young national servicemen in that conflict.

Bob, a former Army Catering Corps chef, closes our podcast with a treasured memory about his Sgt Major’s favourite expression, one that must have summed up National Service experience for many young recruits: “You might have broken your mother’s heart but you won’t break mine.”

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity pays tribute to the two million who did National Service in the Armed Forces and the 395 service personnel who gave their lives during the 16 years of its existence. We thank all our guests for sharing their National Service memories with us.

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