Question: How Long Did Drafted WWII Soldiers Serve?


I’m working on a story and have a question that I would have thought would be easy to answer. But I’ve run into dead ends (maybe I’m just being stupid this morning) so maybe you can help answer my question.

If you were drafted into the military during World War II, how long were you required to serve. Previously, I had always just assumed the stints were the usual four years that we associate with military duty. But some indications are that it might have been two years. This Wikipedia entry (and we all know how you have to be somewhat careful with that) states, “An amendment [to the Selective Training and Service Act (STSA) of 1940] increased this to 18 months in 1941.” So maybe that’s the answer? Slightly less than two years?

If any military historians out there have the definitive answer, I would much appreciate the assistance.


  1. I am also curious as to the answer to this question, for the last 3 years i’ve been pondering the answer… still not sure.

  2. Not a historian, but my father was drafted in Oct or Nov 1942 when he was 43. He was married and my mother was pregnant with me. He first went to fort dix as they lived nj. Then he went by train to armorer school in Texas, Allo field. He was discharged in March 1943, I think, about a month after I was born.
    When he & my mother died in the 1980s they were buried in a veteran cemetery because he had served at least 90 days.
    For many years I thought that all these older men were only required to serve 3 months, but according to wikipedia the term was longer. I did see his discharge paper years ago, and don’t remember seeing anything about a medical reason. Perhaps the air corps realized he had 2 dependents by then.

  3. Draft was 2 years
    Enlistment 3 years
    War Acts required you to remain on active duty until war ended!
    Discharges after war started with those having served the most time in military . A large enough number chose to stay in some were accepted to maintain strength of defense of country. A number were released before their enlistment was expired
    But again determination was to a level to maintain national defense.

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