A furlough is a period of leave granted to members of the armed forces for a short length of time. During the Second World War, with so many men in uniform, it was essential that men on furlough could show that they were absent with permission and had not deserted. In order to prove they were on a legitimate furlough, a special form was issued that could be presented to members of the military or civil police if needed to show they had permission. This example dates form 1941 and was issued to a Private Oates for six days furlough:
This pass was issued by the Army Pay Office in Leicester to allow the private to travel to Wakefield, presumably where his family lived.
The rear of the form has a lot of detailed information on how to behave on furlough, what to do if taken ill, where to find accomodation in London etc.:
Percy Bowpitt recalls his first leave from the Army following his initial training:
Amazingly when the passing out parade was held on the final day the sense of pride in the regiment and ourselves was tremendous. Marching past the Colonel as he stood on the saluting base we felt 10 ft tall and fit as fiddles.
Our reward for all these efforts was a week’s home leave. I can recall walking down the street at home and feeling that I had confounded all the doubts expressed by my father and it always irked with me that he never once said he was proud of me, but that was my father.
A standing joke amongst troops at the time was the fact that every time one went on leave almost the first thing anyone said was “ how long have you got, when are you going back?” This seemed to happen to everyone.