I’m hoping that asking a UK-related question here, is acceptable – I don’t know of any message boards based in the UK, my own country, which have a feature like SDMB’s “General Questions”; and am not acquainted with anyone in “meatspace” who would be likely to know the answer to my query. Could any other British Dopers help, maybe?
It’s to do with the fairly brief spell (1945 to 1960) in which the UK had conscription for all males, in peacetime: basically a two-year “hitch”, for which one normally became liable at the age of 18. (I was born a few years too late to have been subject to this measure – mercifully, as far as I am concerned.)
Question has been raised by my reading the Wiki “potted biography” of a British guy who was born in 1941, and what it hinted rather than spelt out. I’m aware that during this period of peacetime conscription in the UK: if one gained a university place, one could do one’s stint in the armed forces either before, or after, one’s time at university. In the case of a guy who – as did many – regarded compulsory military service as an unwelcome ordeal and interruption to life; and won a place at university, late in the 1950s, and chose to go on to university straight from school: with conscription being abolished in 1960, while he was doing his three or four years’ university course; was that simply a stroke of luck for him – he never had to do military service (which he would have had to do, if he had opted for conscription between school and university)? I know there were parallels of a kind to that situation, in the US – stuff which was especially prominent in the Vietnam period – but have realised that I don’t know for sure, what the picture here was in the UK.