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Remembered Today:

Bureaucracy v Wives & Widows

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quote - By March 1919, only 191,317 women had been awarded a war widow’s pension. This figure represents approximately 26.5% of the total number of war fatalities of 722,785.


[The above is qualified by the following footnote: 

It has not proved possible to ascertain how many of the men who died both during and after the War were married. W. Hayes Fisher MP, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation (RPFC), told the Council of the RPFC in 1915 that he had been told that ‘65 per cent of what is known as “Kitchener’s Army” are married men’; BlomfieldSmith, Heritage of Help, p. 117. However, Susan Pedersen quotes a much lower figure, stating that by 1917, 40% were married; Pedersen, ‘Gender, Welfare and Citizenship’, p. 989, footnote 14. If either of these percentages is correct, the numbers of war widows who were refused a pension must have run into tens of thousands.

my emphasis]


A recommended read - https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/0961202000020023


Edited by michaeldr
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I do think saying 'only 191,317 women' had been awarded a widow's pension by March 1919 is understating the effort made by the MoP (and Chelsea before them) then keep the system flowing. By the end of April 1919 there were 2,306,623 pensions and allowances granted (not including the fact that most cases were also reviewed on several occasions).


The problem with the 722,785 figure is that this includes death to the end of the CWGC period on 31 August 1921. By 31 August 1919 (the latest date I have full figures for) the number of widows claims had risen to 213,867 and by 31 Aug 1921 would have risen by a good bit more.


Taking a look at the CWGC to 31 August 1919 we get some 709,000 deaths against 213,867 widows claims. A count through some random WFA cards shows that disabled men were roughly 60/40 between single and married. Assuming men who lived died had not greater affinity or not to marriage should keep this figure holding true for the rest. This means around 283,600 of these had widows - this gives us around 75% of widows who received a pension - a much more likely figure.


There is also a comment to the effect that the pensions at the start of the war were intermittent for war time volunteers - widow's pensions were not brought in to payment until early 1915 as there was a 26 week period of separation allowance, so the lack of pension was not an administrative issue, more just the way the system worked.



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