THE letter concerning fears about the return of National Service caused me much introspection and heart searching as to its value (Let’s hope National Service never returns, Craven Herald letters, June 13).

I did National Service from 1956 to 1958 and clearly remember dreading the prospect and thinking what a waste of time it seemed. It would take away two years of my life and prevent me getting on with those aspects I really wanted to concentrate on. I think these were the thoughts of many other recruits as they prepared themselves to fulfil their National Service obligations.

Still, it was preferable to what our fathers and grandfathers had to go through.

We all looked forward to demob and to help us through the two years many recruits devised 'chuff charts' which counted off the days, dividing days done by days left to do, which gave us the 'chuff factor'. This demonstrated how chuffed we were as we came closer to demob.

When the great day came after 730 days of service I vividly remember walking from the guardroom in my best, and only, suit, discharge papers safely in my pocket, kitbag over my shoulder and through the camp gates having to salute nobody. I walked with great exhilaration into freedom.

It took me many years to consider the huge benefits I had actually achieved from having to do National Service and I can express these in three salient points.

Firstly, there was the comradeship brought about from people from all sorts of backgrounds mixing together having to face the same challenges. The social skills obtained from this are many.

When it was all over and we had earned our freedom, 15 of us who had gone through the National Service experience together vowed to keep in touch forever which we did with annual reunions, visit to each others homes and meeting their families. Sadly, out of the original 15, there are only two of us still alive, but we still keep in touch.

Secondly, we were most definitely instilled with a strong sense of discipline which we were meant to translate into self discipline. Rishi Sunak seems to be hinting that this is lacking in certain elements of our society today.

Thirdly, there was the opportunity to travel - a bit like a double gap year. You had no say in the places you were sent to, but we did visit places some tourists would willingly pay thousands of pounds to visit. And we encountered many lovely inhabitants of much less wealthy and less sophisticated areas of the world which certainly broadened our horizons about how other people live.

The downside to all this is that we were sometimes put into very unpleasant situations and were forced to witness sights which we would never ever hope to experience again.

So, I am glad to have done National Service (now it's all over?) The answer is yes. Would I like to go through the two year ordeal again? A definite no.

What do I think of Rishi Sunak's idea for the reintroduction of National Service? It seems to be rather contrived as a pre election vote winner, un-costed, impractical on many levels and rather wishy-washy compared with the original scheme.

Finally, I asked my wife's opinion on the benefits of me doing National Service and she replied "well, it certainly taught you to iron efficiently".

D Tillotson.