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15 October 2014
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Language Usage

by Harold Pollins

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Harold Pollins
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Harold Pollins
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02 February 2004

Language usage

In 1946-7 I was a Personnel Selection Sergeant administering various tests to recruits. I was the Key Sergeant in a team consisting of two or three captains, three sergeants and two ATS typists. I was sort of in charge of the sergeants. Every fortnight new recruits would join the Primary Training Wing and we would give them tests. The crucial document we used was SP100, a form one of whose sides the recruits had to complete, under a sergeant’s supervision. The other side of the form contained spaces where the arithmetic results of the tests were recorded by the ATS secretaries. There was also a space where an officer, who interviewed the recruit after the process of testing was complete, would recommend to which branch of the army the recruit was suitable for transfer. The forms would then be sent to the War Office for some department or other to allocate the recruits to their substantive units.

The point of this story is this. The side of the SP100 form that recruits had to fill in included the usual kind of things. Name, age, nationality, education, hobbies, and so on. I remember one of the officers telling us, after he had interviewed one recruit, that in the space for ’Nationality’ the recruit had written ’Prostitute.’ The officer, whose job it was to go through the form with the recruits, asked him. ’What’s your nationality?’ he replied, ’Prostitute, sir.’ The officer persisted but kept getting the same answer. At last he asked, ’’Which country are you from?’ ‘Scotland. sir.’ ’That’s what nationality means, the country you come from.’ ’Oh. Sir. Sorry sir’, replied the recruit. ’I thought it meant religion.’

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Language usage

Posted on: 03 February 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Harold

LOL. This really did bring a smile to my face. :-D

All the very best,



Message 2 - Language usage

Posted on: 30 March 2004 by Harold Pollins

Two points:

1. I posted a message about the title of one of my stories, which I called 'Evacuation 1939' and which was edited as 'Evacuation 1939: Leyton to Brentwood.' I suggested that it should be 'Leytonstone to Brentwood.' But I've had no response.

2. I submitted a story entitled 'Intolerance.' I think this was the first or second one I submitted. It does not seem to figure in my list of contributions. What has happened to it?

Harold Pollins


Message 3 - Language usage

Posted on: 30 March 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Hi Harold

Two answers:

1. I think that you should be able to access any of your stories and edit them even after they have been categorised by the Editorial Desk team. As I understand it, the only ones you cannot alter are the ones selected as Top Stories.

2. Your 'Intolerance' story is here A1968087. Access it from here, or go to your Personal Page and click on 'See all Stories and Questions'.

I'm just a member myself, so I'll get a WW2 Team member to check this.

All the best,



Message 4 - Language usage

Posted on: 31 March 2004 by Helen

Dear both

Thank you Peter for responding to Harold's queries.

Harold I have also left a message in your pigeon hole.

Best wishes,

Helen, WW2 Team

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

British Army Category
Postwar Years Category
North East Scotland Category
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