1. Very wealthy, male, late 20s-early 30s when the war begins
2. Middle class, male, getting close to 40, a domestic servant who had a little military experience in the first world war.
Britain - then, if it works historically, first character in Africa or Europe, second in Burma.
I have a ton of questions. I hope it's okay to ask them all in one post - they are all directly related to the subject.
From the research I've done, both my characters were too old to actually get called up, even though according to the National Service (Armed Forces) Act they were made liable for conscription. Bearing that in mind:
- How likely is it that they'd have volunteered?
- How unusual would it have been for someone of a privileged background to volunteer?
- If someone did volunteer, what would be the immediate result (assuming they volunteered after the 'Phoney War' period)? Was there always 6 months training?
- If my two characters were friends and joined up at the same time, is it likely they'd continue to serve together? (My hope is that they'd end up on completely separate paths, just want to know how likely that would be).
- How was it decided where you would be placed? Did it depend on where you were from at all, or was it random?
- How was it decided what rank a new volunteer would hold? Would their class be a factor, or just their experience?
- If someone of these ages did volunteer, is it likely they'd have been sent overseas into combat situations?
- Were there duties they'd have been expected to perform if they DIDN'T join?
I've been Googling and Wikiing with search terms 'second world war volunteers british', 'second world war conscription british' (also with '2nd' instead of 'second'. I used '2nd World War' rather than 'WW2' since it's generally known as '2nd world war' in Britain, and I am looking specifically for information about the British forces. I really don't know how to translate my questions into search terms other than those I've tried.
I've found the basic dates and information about the ages people were 'called up'. I found that 2 million men were 'registered' between the ages of 20 - 27 by Jan 1940, though I can't find out precisely what 'registration' is likely to have meant in reality for characters with the backgrounds I've described. A lot of results direct me to books on the subject; but even the books I have read or examined tend to offer very generalised information. I'm looking for very specific information about the British men as individuals - but the only information I find tends to be more political than personal, unless it relates the stories of British women, children, or the home guard.
I've asked in a couple of other forums, but really only got a lot of speculation - some suggesting that someone of the upper class or aristocracy were bound to have 'got out of it somehow' - ? I find that hard to believe, but I don't know.
If anyone has concrete information about any of this stuff, I'd love to hear it.