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Civilians into soldiersWar, the body and British Army recruits, 1939-45$
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Emma Newlands

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719088049

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719088049.001.0001

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Examination

Examination

Chapter:
(p.26) 1 Examination
Source:
Civilians into soldiers
Author(s):

Emma Newlands

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719088049.003.0002

This chapter explores the army’s physical selection process, the first point in the transformation from civilian to soldier. It describes the various medical grades that men were assigned and discusses the qualities that were considered desirable for recruitment. It then looks at individual instances of examination to suggest that the medical inspection was not an objective assessment of the body but was shaped by wider social and cultural assumptions. The experiences of men who entered into this sorting system also reveal that examination could be a moment of contest and negotiation between the individual and the State. While some men tried to avoid enlistment by feigning illness or disease, others attempted to hide their disabilities in order to be recruited into the ranks. Moreover, these were negotiations in which individual members of the authorities were often complicit, as some examining doctors knowingly let unfit men pass through the selection process.

Keywords:   British Army, Recruitment, Medical inspection, Physical selection, Malingering

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