WEEKEND WEB: Protests after soldiers lose out on pensions

Popular Spalding auctioneer and councillor George Hall died in 1918.
Popular Spalding auctioneer and councillor George Hall died in 1918.
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We look back at the Lincs Free Press this week in 1918 - in the final year of the First World War

The Holland War Pensions Committee was appalled to hear about a delay in awarding pensions to discharged soldiers.

It meant that soldiers were having to apply for ‘poor relief’, (financial assistance from the government).

The committee discussed a case at Kirton which was deemed a “great disgrace” that a soldier had not received the pension promised to him.

Committee member Mr J M Simpson stressed it was the duty of the district committees to see that these men got what they were entitled to.

He asked whether it was possible for them to go over the heads of the district committee and immediately grant the Kirton man his proper pension.

The secretary said that the committee had no power to grant the pension that day as suggested.

It was agreed they would write to the Kirton District Sub Committee, stating that they had heard that day with the “greatest possible regret” that a man who should be in receipt of a pension was at present in receipt of Poor Law Relief.

They added that they hoped the committee would take immediate steps “to remove such a stigma.”

This newspaper reported at the time: “It is an intolerable thing, on whomever the fault may rest, that a soldier who has been fighting the country’s battles, and who, thereby, has lost the means of earning a livelihood, should be driven to apply for poor relief.

“And it is still more unsatisfactory, if it be, as was represented in this case, that our local machinery is at fault.

“The district sub-committees were set up so as to avoid delay in settling the pensions, but the suggestion before the county committee last week was that in some cases the arrangement was not working as well as it might.”

Tributes to popular Spaldonian:

George Hall, a well-known Spalding auctioneer, personality and councillor, died at the age of 86.

He was a prominent and popular figure in the town for 35 years.

He had been a member of the Holland County Council (as it was known in 1918,), since its inauguration in 1889.

And for 26 years Mr Hall had served on the Spalding Urban Council.

He was born in Spalding and originally followed his father’s trade as a carpenter.

At the age of 19 he left home and worked as a carpenter all over the country.

He became an auctioneer in 1879.

Mr Hall was known far and wide also for his outspoken and homely wit and his close attention to his public duties.