One way as an OR (other rank) of getting more pay was by promotion. It often also improved the quality of the life by getting out of the barrack room. The educated young national serviceman had a good chance of this if he got into a non-tooth arm 1 for he could reach the rank of Sergeant.
In the tooth arms, this was not as likely as there was more call for obedience and brawn than brains. To serve as a gun crew member one had to follow a strict drill, get a gun into action and carry about heavy charges and shells. In the infantry one needed little or no intellect at all-in fact it was a distinct disadvantage.
In our case as Surveyors RA we served with our brains in a very special RA unit. All the junior and senior NCOs were Regulars and little opportunity for promotion existed.
10. Marriage Allowance & Married Quarters
Wives of national servicemen got some allowance to which also the man had to contribute, but married quarters were not available being allocated only to regular soldiers.
This was in the time honored phrase “a privilege”. National servicemen were eligible for 14 days in their first year and 21 in the second. For those stationed in Britain they enjoyed this along with 36 and 48 hour passes. Embarkation leave for those going to an overseas posting was given.
It is obvious we were shortchanged and did not get our entitlement. Once abroad we never received 36 or 48 hour passes. And we had to fight for the five days leave at Christmas 1950. Apart from that and the three days we got at the end before embarkation to return home, these eight days were the only leave 2 I had in sixteen months in Hong Kong. Within the limited confines of Hong Kong there was no local Leave Center or within a reasonable distance any other; this was unlike those available in other overseas postings as in Germany, Austria and Cyprus. Later leave was available in Japan but only if you were fortunate to win a place in a lottery.
Presumably the situation in Hong Kong and our duties had something to do with it, but there was no action on the part of the GOC to get rest and relaxation facilities organized.