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Remembered Today:

Support on returning with a disability


ianhwason
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Was there any? Were employers sympathetic to their needs? Were there any charitable organisations that supported them while trying to find work on their return?

My gut feeling is that once their injuries were attended to they would be left to their own devices but perhaps I am mistaken.

Regards,

Ian.

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I know from reading letters in coldstream guards papers that the regiment was helping out with money for years after the war

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Via various medical boards, the Army usually provided pensions for those wholly or partially disabled as a result of wonds or the ardours of active service. Men were periodically re-assessed to see if their conditions had improved, in which case the pension might be reduced, or deteriorated, in which case it might be increased.

The British Legion was formed in 1921 mainly to provide additional support for ex-servicemen who were still in need, especially in finding suitable work.

Ron

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My G.Grandfather Fred Osborne lost an arm above the elbow. Whilst he received a pension of sorts, there was not anything else he benefitted from. For example he found work almost impossible to get and when he did he was paid less because he could only do less. Believe it or not he worked on a building site as a hod carrier ( but could only carry half the bricks).

His son (my Grandpa - 90 today by the way), remembers his mum renting out his bed to miners who had just finished a night shift whilst he went to school to make ends meet. Fred and his wife Florence Garlick had moved from Northamptonshire to Measham Leicestershire to live with Fred's sister Elsie whose husband Ernest Hart had been killed in September 1918 - family supporting each other in what must have been very difficult times indeed.

In addition, his stump was regularly measured to see if it had grown with a view to cutting his pension!

He was issued with a false arm but never used it other than to scare the kids with!

Fred could ride a bike, tie his laces and even clean his nails. He eventually ran a fish and chip shop back in his local area. He died aged 63 at home from the effects of gas whispering to his son that he could see the Germans coming.

If there was support available for wounded servicemen, it was not very wide spread. I guess most regiments had benevolent funds of some sort but would not have been guaranteed.

Anyway, that's my 2 peneth on the subject from my families experience - hope it helps and/or is an interesting read.

All the best,

Ant

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I asked the question as I very recently found out that my wife's great grandfather, who lost an arm, could not find work after returning. He worked in the textile industry and the nature of his job meant that he could not carry out the work with one arm.

I of course don't know for sure that this was the only reason he decided to end his life (but this is the reason I have been given by family members).

The fact that he decided to drink a bottle of bleach is surely a measure of his desperation - very sad.

Thanks Ant - yes an interesting read.

Coldstreamer - glad that some financial support was there.

Dave and Ron - Both excellent organisations but perhaps founded a little late for my particular relative.

Regards,

Ian.

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Try http://www.medicinae.org/e10 for some general information.

Best wishes,

sJ

Thanks a good read. The author does make the point that provisions were 'patchy' and charities tried to fill the gaps as best they could. It seems that the support services may have been over stretched by the numbers returning with all manner of disabilities.

I wonder what the low numbers entering re-training places means - male ego? I'll manage etc?

Regards,

Ian

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Don't suppose the re-training option was not widely publicised - extra cost to the government and you may be right - ego or stiff upper lip would have played a part with men wanting just to get home and back to normal (as far as possible).

Those living in the sticks have had little or no support compared to those in the smoke I guess?

Ant

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The Regular Forces Employment Association (RFEA) was founded in 1885 so the need was recognized decades before. The Officers' Association was founded after the war with a wide remit including employment activities. But I wonder with so many seeking work how much justice was given to the disabled?

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How do you define disability? Physical and visible (such as a missing limb) or any impairment? For example a man with recurring attacks of malaria throughout his life might well looks fit and well most of the time but be suffering from a serious disability.

My Dad's boss in the 1950s I can remember looked pretty fit (he walked with a very slight limp and played golf off a handicap of about 4) but he had half a leg missing (drove a tank over an AT mine in 1918). he was disabled I guess but you'd never know it.

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How do you define disability? Physical and visible (such as a missing limb) or any impairment? For example a man with recurring attacks of malaria throughout his life might well looks fit and well most of the time but be suffering from a serious disability.

My Dad's boss in the 1950s I can remember looked pretty fit (he walked with a very slight limp and played golf off a handicap of about 4) but he had half a leg missing (drove a tank over an AT mine in 1918). he was disabled I guess but you'd never know it.

I suppose it could be opened up to such conditions as depression but foremost in my mind was the physical side of things as I had just my wife's relative in mind at the time of posting.

I also imagine as time passed and improvements were made in prosthetics a person's quality of life would benefit.

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The Regular Forces Employment Association (RFEA) was founded in 1885 so the need was recognized decades before. The Officers' Association was founded after the war with a wide remit including employment activities. But I wonder with so many seeking work how much justice was given to the disabled?

After reading the link posted by Heritage Plus ( re BLESMA )it would seem not enough as the association was set up by the veterans themselves with the intention of improving their lot and lobbying the government of the time.

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Plenty of physical illnesses that some men suffered from sporadically for decades after the war - complications from Trench Fever for example, severe tinitis, blinding migranes , etc that wouldn't show most of the time and could still be pretty disabling. Clinical depression BTW is often due to physical reasons - it isn't just "feeling blue" - do not dismiss it.

Prosthetic limbs didn't change much until after WW2. Some men managed well with them (see my example of the tanker) and others less so

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Plenty of physical illnesses that some men suffered from sporadically for decades after the war - complications from Trench Fever for example, severe tinitis, blinding migranes , etc that wouldn't show most of the time and could still be pretty disabling. Clinical depression BTW is often due to physical reasons - it isn't just "feeling blue" - do not dismiss it.

Prosthetic limbs didn't change much until after WW2. Some men managed well with them (see my example of the tanker) and others less so

Would never dismiss depression as I assume it is very much associated with physical disability and the problems they faced in finding employment as well as every other aspect of daily life.

I had also assumed that your example of the tanker had benefitted from the improvements made after the 2nd war as you pointed out.

Thanks and Regards,

Ian

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Would never dismiss depression as I assume it is very much associated with physical disability and the problems they faced in finding employment as well as every other aspect of daily life.

I had also assumed that your example of the tanker had benefitted from the improvements made after the 2nd war as you pointed out.

Thanks and Regards,

Ian

No depression IS a physical disability in its own right in many cases and not associated with one as it is often the result of a chemical imbalance - it is often a primary cause of the problems not a result of them.

Apart from some minor changes in materials, things like artificial legs stayed much the same until at least the 1980s.

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  • 2 months later...

I know this thread is a few months old now, but I subscribe to Oxford DNB's Life of the Day, and today's "Life" is that of Sir (Benn) Jack Brunel Cohen, 1886-1965.

I post an extract for interest and for anyone who may like to follow it up:

"On 31 July 1917, during the third battle of Ypres, he was severely wounded by machine-gun fire and both his legs had to be amputated above the knee. Although he was able to walk short distances and drove a car, he spent most of his adult life in an electric wheelchair. He coped well with his disability and he became a champion and advocate for all disabled former servicemen, and indeed for all people with disabilities.

After a short stint in banking, and encouraged by his father and the Liverpool Conservative organizer Archibald Salvidge, Cohen stood for parliament at the general election of December 1918. He won the Liverpool (Fairfield) constituency as a Conservative, and held it against Labour opponents until 1931, when he decided not to contest the seat again. In his maiden speech, on 14 February 1919, he spoke on the need not only to teach disabled former servicemen a trade, but also to find them jobs. In July 1919 he raised a parliamentary question about the exclusion of wounded former servicemen from the peace procession held in that month; they were left to view the parade from the sidelines. He served on more than thirty government committees and voluntary bodies concerning the welfare of former servicemen and servicewomen and the disabled, including one concerning the design of artificial limbs."

The link http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/lotw/2013-11-11 will be live for a few more days.

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  • 3 months later...

I have been doing some research into the case of soldier whose case started this thread - he was my relative as well as Ian's.

Reading the report of his inquest , I think he was suffering from stress. It could be from what he experienced in the war or the loss of his left arm.

He had a pension but it looks like he was spending more than a quarter on beer - he was drinking for 14 hours just before his death. He mistreated his wife - to the extent she did not have a good word about after his death and had thrown her out of the house just he drank the carbolic which killed him. All this seems familiar in a modern context but I hope it would never get as far as it did now.

Society was changing as a result of WW1 and did not yet know how to cope with the effects of modern war.

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Ian

I would strongly recommend Deborah Cohen's The War Come Home - Disabled Veterans in Britain and Germany, 1914-1939. University of California Press , 2001. Superbly researched, it compares attitudes towards disabled veterans in the two countries and the very different ways they were treated. It is not cheap but well worth the money. Available from Amazon.

TR

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Ian

I would strongly recommend Debora Cohen's The War Come Home - Disabled Veterans in Britain and Germany, 1914-1939. University of California Press , 2001. Superbly researched, it compares attitudes towards disabled veterans in the two countries and the very different ways they were treated. It is not cheap but well worth the money. Available from Amazon.

TR

Terry,

Can you tell me whether there is any specific mention of naval veterans?

Thank you.

sJ

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seaJane

No there isn't, however for army you can read navy as well. In essence the UK encouraged charities to take responsibility, in Germany the government led the way. This link might interest you though, as you will find a few RN and RM personnel in

the admissions.

http://web.archive.org/web/20070808182722/http://web.ukonline.co.uk/sheila.jones/stargart.htm

TR

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Thank you Terry. If there was a significant naval element visible I might be able to persuade the powers-that-be to buy a copy for the library - I might anyway - but I could always start with a public library loan, I suppose! Thank you for the link - I'll look at that tomorrow.

sJ

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Ian

I would strongly recommend Deborah Cohen's The War Come Home - Disabled Veterans in Britain and Germany, 1914-1939. University of California Press , 2001. Superbly researched, it compares attitudes towards disabled veterans in the two countries and the very different ways they were treated. It is not cheap but well worth the money. Available from Amazon.

TR

Many thanks Terry - will look this one up.

Regards.

Ian.

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My grandfather also lost his arm at 3rd Ypres, but he managed to get some sort of clerical job in the dockyard at Invergordon which lasted until after the war. Then they moved to Edinburgh where my grandfather came from, and things were very difficult according to my Granny. He and my Granny parted company in the late 20's, and thereafter my granny and her three children had no support, other than her family back in Cromarty. With her family's help, she managed to send two of them to university. My understanding was that his pension was a pittance and was stopped while he was working. From my research, I found that he ended up working for Customs and EXcise in Glasgow, so he was luckier than some, but he never supported his family. He died aged 56 from intestinal cancer.

Hazel

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