Joint Services School for Linguists

Joint Services School For Linguists

Joint Services School for Linguists

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The Joint Services School for Linguists (JSSL) was founded in 1951 by the British armed services to provide language training, principally in Russian, and largely to selected conscripts undergoing National Service. The school closed with the ending of conscription in 1960, after which the services made their own provisions as they had prior to the opening of the school (and, to some extent, even during its operation).

The founding of the school was prompted by the need to provide greater numbers of interpreters, intelligence and signals intelligence officers due to the Cold War, and the Korean War which had started the previous year. The attraction of avoiding normal military training and threat of being "returned to unit" if the weekly test was failed tended to make for attentive students. Russian tended to be a mixture of White Russian émigrés and carefully vetted Soviet defectors.

JSSL was initially based at three main sites near Bodmin, Caterham and Cambridge, run respectively by the Army, Navy and Air Force. In 1956 the three were amalgamated at a former airfield near the fishing village of Crail on the east coast of Scotland.For a time in the early 1960s the school (renamed the Joint Services School for Linguists) was based at RAF Tangmere near Chichester in Sussex, where Mandarin, Polish and Czech in addition to Russian were taught.

Aside from their military contribution, many of the estimated 6,000 trainees continued to use their skills in their subsequent...
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