Military Training Act 1939

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The Military Training Act 1939 was an Act of Parliament passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom on 26 May 1939, in a period of international tension that led to World War II. The Act applied to males aged 20 and 21 years old who were to be called up for six months full-time military training, and then transferred to the Reserve. There was provision for conscientious objectors. It was the UK's first act of peacetime conscription and was intended to be temporary in nature, continuing for three years unless an Order in Council declared it was no longer necessary.

An act of parliament, also called primary legislation, are statutes passed by a parliament (legislature). Act of the Oireachtas is an equivalent term used in the Republic of Ireland where the legislature is commonly known by its Irish name, Oireachtas. It is also comparable to an Act of Congress in the United States.

Parliament of the United Kingdom Supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom

The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, and domestically simply as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

On 27 April 1939, Leslie Hore-Belisha, Secretary of State for War, persuaded the cabinet of Neville Chamberlain to introduce a limited form of conscription as a result of the deteriorating international situation and the rise of Nazi Germany.

Leslie Hore-Belisha British politician

Leslie Hore-Belisha, 1st Baron Hore-Belisha, PC was a British Liberal, then National Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) and Cabinet Minister. He later joined the Conservative Party. He proved highly successful in modernizing the British road system in 1934–37 as Minister of Transport. As Secretary of War, 1937–1940, he feuded with the commanding generals and was removed in 1940. Anti-semitism played a role in blocking his appointment as Minister of Information. His biographer compares his strong and weak points:

Secretary of State for War British cabinet-level position

The position of Secretary of State for War, commonly called War Secretary, was a British cabinet-level position which existed from 1794 to 1801 and from 1854 to 1964. The Secretary of State for War headed the War Office and was assisted by a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for War, a Parliamentary Private Secretary who was also a Member of Parliament, and a Military Secretary, who was a general.

Neville Chamberlain Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Arthur Neville Chamberlain was a British Conservative Party statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his foreign policy of appeasement, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany. When Adolf Hitler invaded Poland, the UK declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, and Chamberlain led Britain through the first eight months of the Second World War.

Men called up were to be known as 'militiamen' to distinguish them from the regular army. To emphasise this distinction, each man was issued with a suit in addition to a uniform. The intention was for the first intake to undergo six months of basic training before being discharged into an active reserve. They would then be recalled for short training periods and attend annual camps.

There was one registration under the Act, of the first cohort of liable males, on Saturday 3 June 1939, and call-up for these men followed. However, the Act was superseded on the outbreak of war in September 1939 by the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939.

The National Service Act 1939 was enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom on 3 September 1939, the day the United Kingdom declared war on Germany at the start of the Second World War. It superseded the Military Training Act 1939 and enforced full conscription on all males between 18 and 41 who were residents in the UK. It was continued in a modified form in peacetime by the National Service Act 1948.


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