They Stand Ready was a film produced for the British government looking at the enlistment, training and duties of a National Serviceman. During the 1950s, all British men between the ages of 17 and 21 were required to serve for two years in the armed forces and National Service personnel fought in a number of combat operations from Korea to Suez.
The film depicts some of these conflicts and emphasises the importance of National Service and the need for Britain to maintain military preparedness across the world. Professional forces “cannot meet these huge demands” and Britain is said to have accepted compulsory national service “without liking it…for as long as may be necessary”.
In fact National Service became increasingly unpopular and was abolished by the Macmillan government in the early 1960s.