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My grandson should be made to do national service: D-Day veterans who fought the Nazis during WW2 back Rishi Sunak’s year-long scheme as they brand Gen Z ‘pretty useless’ and in dire need of ‘some discipline’

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D-Day veterans who fought the Nazis in WW2 have backed Rishi Sunak‘s year-long National Service scheme for 18-year-olds – branding Gen Z as ‘pretty useless’ and in dire need of some ‘discipline’.

The veterans include 99-year-old Mervyn Kersh who was part of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps which helped supply the 153,000 troops who took part in the famous landings.

He was only 19 at the time of D-Day on June 6, 1944, but would go on to take part in the Allied advance across Europe and the liberated Nazi concentration camps.

Mr Kersh told MailOnline: ‘It (National Service) should never have stopped. The youth today, to generalise, are pretty useless. 

‘Certainly don’t have any idea of service, or National Service, based on what I’ve seen anyway. And that includes my grandson. I think it is a very good idea, it teaches some discipline, some self discipline, it is always good.’

D-Day veteran Mervyn Kersh said National Service 'should never have stopped' and labelled the youth of today as 'pretty useless'

D-Day veteran Mervyn Kersh said National Service ‘should never have stopped’ and labelled the youth of today as ‘pretty useless’

The Jewish veteran was part of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps which helped supply the 153,000 troops who took part in the famous landings

The Jewish veteran was part of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps which helped supply the 153,000 troops who took part in the famous landings

Mr Kersh (pictured) was only 19 at the time of D-Day but would go on to take part in the Allied advance across Europe and the Nazi concentration camps

Mr Kersh (pictured) was only 19 at the time of D-Day but would go on to take part in the Allied advance across Europe and the liberated Nazi concentration camps

Pictured: Troops from the 48th Royal Marines at Saint-Aubin-sur-mer on Juno Beach, Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944

Pictured: Troops from the 48th Royal Marines at Saint-Aubin-sur-mer on Juno Beach, Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944

Mr Kersh, who landed on the Normandy beaches himself a few days after the first landings, was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, France‘s highest order of merit for his participation in the campaign in 2015.

The Jewish man was also honoured in 2020 by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his ‘tireless efforts’ in teaching young people about the war. 

Another veteran who backed the reintroduction of National Service was 98-year-old Royal Navy gunner Les Underwood.

He had been put on a Merchant Navy ship to help protect it while it made the journey to Russia, but the ship was diverted and ended up in the middle of D-Day.

The Londoner helped unload the ships supplies to the Allied troops while guns were firing overhead. 

He said: ‘I think National Service should be brought back. Because when you go in as a boy and you come out as a man. 

‘And you learn there are bigger people than you. You think when you are young like I was you are the king of the world – but you are not. ‘

Les Underwood, 98, was a Royal Navy gunner during D-Day. He said National Service should be brought back because 'you go in as a boy and you come out as a man'

Les Underwood, 98, was a Royal Navy gunner during D-Day. He said National Service should be brought back because ‘you go in as a boy and you come out as a man’

The Londoner helped unload his ship's supplies to the Allied troops while guns were firing overhead

The Londoner helped unload his ship’s supplies to the Allied troops while guns were firing overhead

Mr Underwood (pictured) had been put on a Merchant Navy ship to help protect it while it made the journey to Russia, but the ship was diverted and ended up in the middle of D-Day

Mr Underwood (pictured) had been put on a Merchant Navy ship to help protect it while it made the journey to Russia, but the ship was diverted and ended up in the middle of D-Day

British troops at Juno Beach on D-Day in 1944

British troops at Juno Beach on D-Day in 1944

Many historians describe D-Day as the 'beginning of the end' of the Second World War

Many historians describe D-Day as the ‘beginning of the end’ of the Second World War 

A third veteran who has come out in support of National Service is 97-year-old Marie Scott who was a member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (Wrens).

She was only 17 at the time of D-Day, and was one of some 700 people who worked as a radio transmitter at Fort Southwick in Portsmouth – the communications centre for D-Day.

She overheard what was happening on the beaches as she listened to radio messages from soldiers on the frontline 

The mother-of-three said: ‘The discipline of service life is good for you because it makes you realise you can’t take people and things, even the environment, for granted. You can’t do that. 

‘You have to be self-reliant, it teaches you that. I think it is good.’

National Service was first introduced after the Second World War for all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 21. 

More than two million were conscripted into the Armed Forces between 1949 and 1963. 

Mr Sunak’s new National Service plan is designed to help combat the rising threat posed by countries such as Russia and China.

Mr Kersh agrees with the goal and said Britain should be prepared to face up to the threats posed by hostile countries.

Marie Scott, 97, was a member of the Women's Royal Naval Service (Wrens) during D-Day. She supports the reintroduction of National Service because the 'discipline of service life is good'

Marie Scott, 97, was a member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (Wrens) during D-Day. She supports the reintroduction of National Service because the ‘discipline of service life is good’

Mrs Scott was one of the 700 people who worked as a radio transmitter at Fort Southwick in Portsmouth - the communications centre for the invasion

Mrs Scott was one of the 700 people who worked as a radio transmitter at Fort Southwick in Portsmouth – the communications centre for the invasion

Mrs Scott was only 17 at the time of D-Day. She overheard what was happening on the beaches as she listened to radio messages from soldiers on the frontline

Mrs Scott was only 17 at the time of D-Day. She overheard what was happening on the beaches as she listened to radio messages from soldiers on the frontline

In total D-Day was the largest amphibious invasion in history, with 153,000 troops, supported by 10,440 aircraft and 6,330 ships being involved. Pictured: Canadian soldiers land on Courseulles beach in Normandy, on June 6, 1944

In total D-Day was the largest amphibious invasion in history, with 153,000 troops, supported by 10,440 aircraft and 6,330 ships being involved. Pictured: Canadian soldiers land on Courseulles beach in Normandy, on June 6, 1944

He added: ‘If you want peace, you’ve got to be prepared for war. If you are prepared for war, no one will attack you.

‘Not that you will go to war, but that you are ready for it. Ukraine is learning that lesson now, and all the other countries in Europe are gradually learning it. Be prepared. No one attacked me when I was in the army because I was prepared.

‘Bullies will always attack those who are unprepared, and that is a national lesson we should learn.’

In total D-Day was the largest amphibious invasion in history, with 153,000 troops, supported by 10,440 aircraft and 6,330 ships being involved. 

The forces were roughly divided across five beaches: Gold and Sword were attacked by British troops, Juno by Canadian, and Omaha and Utah by the US. 

The Allies took approximately 10,250 casualties on D-Day, with around 4,440 killed. 

Many historians describe D-Day as the ‘beginning of the end’ of the Second World War. 

The three veterans were speaking at a D-Day commemoration event held by the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans and financial firm CBOE on Thursday.

Allied soldiers begin to arrive en-masse with vehicles and equipment on D-Day

 Allied soldiers begin to arrive en-masse with vehicles and equipment on D-Day

Pictured, U.S. reinforcements wade through the surf from a landing craft in the days following D-Day and the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France

U.S. reinforcements wade through the surf from a landing craft in the days following D-Day

The Allies took approximately 10,250 casualties on D-Day, with around 4,440 killed. Pictured: Graves at the Bayeux War Cemetery, the largest Second World War cemetery of Commonwealth soldiers in France

The Allies took approximately 10,250 casualties on D-Day, with around 4,440 killed. Pictured Graves at the Bayeux War Cemetery, the largest Second World War cemetery of Commonwealth soldiers in France

Their comments come after Rishi Sunak divided opinion when he announced the compulsory policy of National Service for all 18-year-olds if the Conservatives win the General Election last week.

Under the bombshell plan, school-leavers would be obliged to spend a year in a full-time Armed Forces role or volunteering with organisations such as the police or NHS.

Only 10 per cent of 18-year-olds are expected to take up the option of a full military commission for the 12-month period, with the rest working for just one weekend a month.

The civic roles would include supporting flood defences and communities during natural disasters, NHS support roles, fire safety work, or signing up for the RNLI or mountain search and rescue. 

If the Conservatives are re-elected, a Royal Commission would be established to finalise the details and the scheme would come into effect in September next year. 

Nearly 750,000 18 to 24-year-olds are currently out of work, and this age group is disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.

Mr Sunak said at the time the ‘reinvented’ scheme would ‘provide life-changing opportunities for our young people’, and declared: ‘As a father, I look forward to my own two daughters doing their National Service: I think they will find it a rewarding experience.’

Sweden, Norway, France and Denmark are among the countries to have reintroduced a modern version of national service recently. 



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