On 29 September 1939 the National Register was taken throughout the UK, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Meticulously detailed plans were rolled into action, and the civilian population was enumerated in a single sweep.
Of course, that is not quite true; no operation, however well planned, goes entirely according to that plan. But this one went as smoothly as anyone could have hoped.
The object of the exercise was to create an accurate register of everyone in the country on registration day. Serving members of the armed forces were not included, with the exception of service personnel on leave.
Unlike the earlier attempt at National Registration in 1915, everyone was to be included, from new-born infants to the very old, and foreigners and visitors as well as natives. Like the census, everyone was recorded where they happened to be on 29 September, even if that was not their normal residence; many people were enumerated in hotels, boarding houses, hospitals and other institutions. Many young children were not at home on registration day because they had already been evacuated from cities to the countryside in early September. Newspapers reported a rush of hop-pickers heading back to London to be at home for registration night, but many remained in the Kent countryside and were enumerated there. Continue reading »