21st February 1952. Can I See Your ID?


‘You may be asked for it at any time’.

ID Cards after being introduced in 1939 were finally abolished Today in February 1952.

The system had been coming under challenge notably when a Mr. Willcock was stopped by P.C. Harold Muckle in Finchley in December 1950 and asked to produce his card within two days, which he refused to do.(1)

He was charged under the National Registration Act 1939, which could only be reversed under an Order in Council.

He was given an absolute discharge.


Green for adults and brown for those under 16.

National Registration Day back in September 1939 had collected all the information necessary for the issue of Identity Cards, which was also used for food offices to allocate Rationing.

Registration was important as firstly it acknowledged that with major dislocation, mobilisation and evacuation, records would keep track of people and help in manpower control and planning.


Inspection was by military, including Home Guard and Police.

Secondly with the prospect of rationing which came in January of the next year, people soon realised to qualify they needed to be honest in recording all in the household.

This was especially important as many tried to hide the liability of any of the family liable for conscription.

Thirdly the government needed accurate statistics of the population, there was no Census in 1941.

65,000 enumerators were required to trail the country to record details and check the Registration Forms on the Sunday and Monday following Registration Day and to issue an ID Card.

That meant 46 million cards each bearing the holders’ photo with an alphanumeric code identifying the card holder. Not surprisingly forged cards found a ready market.

Information required was address, name, sex, date of birth, marital condition, occupation and whether in services or reserves.

Army of clerks

Army of clerks collating the data.

Ominously the right hand page of the ID Card was not to be completed as it said……’Do nothing with this part…there are reserve provisions for a certain kind of contingency…’

By May 1940 with a possible invasion looming people were told to complete this page and it became compulsory to carry the card at all times.

In 2003 the Labour Government considered the advisability of re-introducing ID Cards, but came to nothing.

(1) On December 7th 1950.


slideshow.id cards document Pic.

lookand learn.com. 24.2.1979. No. 892. Pic of car.

whodoyouthinkyouare?com. explaining the form Pic.

Daily Mail. 2.11.2015. Pic of clerks.




About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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