During the spring of 1939 the deteriorating international situation forced the British government under Neville Chamberlain to consider preparations for a possible war against Nazi Germany.

Plans for limited conscription applying to single men aged between 20 and 22 were given parliamentary approval in the Military Training Act in May 1939.   This required men to undertake six months' military training, and some 240,000 registered for service.

On the day Britain declared war on Germany, 3 September 1939, Parliament immediately passed a more wide-reaching measure. The National Service (Armed Forces) Act imposed conscription on all males aged between 18 and 41 who had to register for service. Those medically unfit were exempted, as were others in key industries and jobs such as baking, farming, medicine, and engineering.

Conscientious objectors had to appear before a tribunal to argue their reasons for refusing to join-up. If their cases were not dismissed, they were granted one of several categories of exemption, and were given non-combatant jobs.

In December 1941 Parliament passed a second National Service Act. It widened the scope of conscription still further by making all unmarried women and all childless widows between the ages of 20 and 30 liable to call-up.

Men were now required to do some form of National Service up to the age of 60, which included military service for those under 51. The main reason was that there were not enough men volunteering for police and civilian defence work, or women for the auxiliary units of the armed forces.

After the outbreak of war, Germany declared that every vessel of the British mercantile marine was to be regarded as a warship, meaning that the sailors of the Merchant Navy faced tremendous risks. Tragically, 30,248 merchant seamen lost their lives during World War Two, a death rate proportionally higher than in any of the armed forces. If captured, merchant seamen were supposed to be returned to their home nations but this did not happen.

Not only did Bingham citizens serve in most of the major theatres of the war, some becoming prisoners of war, but they also came from diverse origins. The fallen include members of long-standing Bingham families, as well as men originally hailing from places as far flung as Northampton, Buckinghamshire and Marshall, Texas, USA. An additional WW2 soldier, Gunner Lewis Mead from Nottingham, serving with an anti-aircraft battery at Whatton, died in a road accident in Bingham in 1940 and is buried with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone in the town cemetery. Click here to read his story.

Eleven men are remembered on the Bingham War manorial in the parish church. Our initial research was concentrated on exploring the military and civilian history of each of these. Click here to view these names and details. But as with our research into World war One, it seemed appropriate to explore as much as we could the men and women who served and survived the Second World War. Click here to follow the path through that part of the web site.

Home Page | About Us | Contact Us | Newsletter

Site developed by Ambrow Limited | Published by the Bingham Heritage Trails Association | All content is © BHTA

Back to
top of page