FOR 15 years after the Second World War finished, every man over 18 in this country was asked to complete National Service.

Now, the number of people who remember that time is fast diminishing, but Oxfordshire resident Alfred James (who has chosen to use a pseudonym), has compiled his experiences for a book – from Hanney to the Hot Spots.

Here, he gives us a glimpse of what to expect.

TEN years after me, by the end of May 1963, the last national servicemen had left the armed forces.

Those still surviving to recall those days now are all septuagenarians and older.

Most hated their two years’ conscription but some profited from the experience.

Brought up in Oxfordshire (then Berkshire) during and after the war, as a romantic I willingly joined the army for the adventure.

Beginning with basic training with the Greenjackets at the harsh Winchester barracks, I was then given what was considered to be one of the cushiest postings in the army, the Intelligence Corps in Sussex, in which many well-known writers and television personalities such as Alan Bennett, Michael Frayn and Dennis Potter also did their service.

I was on one of the early intakes and militarism was relatively slack but soon afterwards was tightened up, Alan Bennett hating his time there.

After training at the School of Military Intelligence I was posted to Egypt, which had just become a hot spot with the first Suez Canal confrontation, witnessing the biggest troop movement since the end of the the Second World War.

Within two weeks of arrival I was plunged into armed combat in error, the sergeant in charge of a Paras platoon thinking I was one of his men and ordering me to join an advance through an Egyptian cemetery seeking armed terrorists.

The sergeant was killed in the encounter so it was the real thing.

I saw firsthand the storming of the Egyptian police headquarters, a little-recorded episode, and joined the Paras camping in the desert prepared for an assault on Cairo, which eventually was called off.

All this intense activity was within the first few weeks, after which things quietened down and one could go out and about and savour some of the eastern culture, albeit this was not to every soldier’s taste.

After almost a year in the Canal Zone, I was posted to Cyprus with the rank of sergeant.

Then a holiday destination for troops, Cyprus was soon to turn hostile.

Fortunately, the terrorist activity did not break out openly until after I had finished my service, and my time was pleasantly spent riding around much of the island on a motorbike, checking security of the military camps.

In the evenings, one could savour the capital Nicosia’s nightlife with its nightclubs and restaurants.

Failing to salute a general, the Commander in Chief of Middle East Land Forces, accompanied by two dozen staff officers, and talking my way into a top secret establishment to test its security, are among some of my most enduring memories among other memorable events and amusing characters from a time now fast-disappearing from the national consciousness.

This young man’s tale of the struggles of growing up will, I hope, delight anyone who lived through that era, has a family member who did National Service in the early 1950s, or has an interest in the social and political history of that time.

From Hanney to the Hot Spots, published by Stanford Publishing Limited, is available for £7.95 from