Epilogue to  Brigadier Hinchcliffe's "Trust and Be Trusted" published 1983

By Major General O. J. Kinahan CB


The last quarter of a century has seen development on an unprecedented scale, most of it made possible by the opportunity for enhancement afforded by the introduction of computerised systems into pay and personnel administration. Over that period the Royal Army Pay Corps has eliminated the need for large military staffs in Fixed Centre Pay Offices and assumed much wider representation at headquarters and units, with still greater involvement in officers' and soldiers' pay administration at that level and an increasing role in financial counselling.

The advent of the 'electronic age' has seen the number of Regimental Pay Offices in the United Kingdom dwindle from 15 in 1960 to 5 in 1982 and the closure of such Offices elsewhere in the world. Moreover, all the Command Pay Offices in the United Kingdom have been amalgamated into a single Office. The Fixed Centre Offices now in existence have a high proportion of civilian staff.

Thanks to the groundwork carried out in the late fifties and early sixties, the computerised pay accounting system first introduced in 1960 was successful and by 1967 the pay accounts of soldiers serving worldwide were being processed at the RAPC Computer Centre at Worthy Down. In this the RAPC can claim to be the first to use computers on an Army-wide application. Shortly afterwards the conversion of officers' pay accounts was completed and subsequently the RAPC assumed the task of paying all officers, when the Army Agents relinquished this responsibility. These changes in pay administration permitted soldiers to be progressively educated in personal financial matters, beginning with payment of their emoluments into commercial banking accounts of their choice, in much the same way as officers. Today the vast majority of Servicemen and women, including Territorial Army personnel, receive their salaries into civilian bank accounts when serving at home and abroad, such transfers being conducted using electronic transfer procedures.

The RAPC Computer Centre has very successfully progressed from the first generation of machines taken into use in 1960 to the fourth generation of equipment currently in use. In addition to operating and improving pay and pensions systems, including coping with the introduction of the military salary concept in 1970, it has taken on very wide responsibilities on behalf of, inter alia, the Adjutant General, the Military Secretary and the Director of Manning, for officer manning administration and soldiers' service records administration. The Computer Centre now supports the Manning, Pay and Pensions requirements of the whole Army - including a call-out for reservists - which in turn are supported by teleprocessing and related communications networks. The systems now in operation are among the most sophisticated and successful administrative computer applications in the world.

This increasing involvement with aspects of personnel administration other than pay and the assumption of responsibilities to the Adjutant General and certain Directors led, in 1973, to a change in the sponsorship of the Royal Army Pay Corps. The fact that single Service Permanent Under Secretaries of State had been removed from the Ministry of Defence organisation necessitated a decision on the position of the Corps within the chain of command at Ministry of Defence level. In September 1972 sponsorship of the Corps was transferred to the Adjutant General.

These changes in organisation and systems could not have been brought about successfully without sound training. The RAPC Training Centre developed its professional, technical and military training syllabi to complement these technological and technical advances and has continued to do so with outstanding success. The Training Centre is renowned throughout Government circles - and indeed within industry - for the high standards of training it provides in the professional fields of electronic data processing, management accounting and secretaryship. It plays a significant role in the training of personnel from other Government Departments and Corporations, particularly in the field of management accounting, in which it has been uniquely successful. A warm and close relationship exists with the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants. Furthermore, a most valuable association, formally recorded, with the Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators has been established.

The role and activities of the Corps are mirrored not only in the work of the Computer Centre and in the excellence of professional training standards of the Training Centre, but in the development, since 1959, of a corps 'Home' at Worthy Down, where the military, social and sporting activities of the military and civilian personnel serving in all the units within the Station have done much to enrich the life of the Corps and foster a relationship Army-wide. This recognition was signally honoured in 1970, when the City of Winchester conferred upon the Corps the Freedom of the City. Since that time the strong ties of friendship which had already developed between the City and the Corps have been further strengthened. Although the Royal Colonel-in-Chief of the Corps (Princess Arthur of Connaught) sadly died in 1959, the RAPC has, since then, been honoured by two visits from members of the Royal Family.

In 1978, the Centenary of the Corps was celebrated. The difference between the role of the Corps today - with members of the RAPC forming a proud and essential part of every Corps and Regiment in the Army - and its role in earlier times is a remarkable story yet still to be told. The degree of change over the past twenty-five years has been so extensive that quite clearly there is already need for a further volume of this History to be chronicled. The prospect offers an intriguing and stimulating challenge to the historian prepared to take it up!!