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WEEKEND WEB: What was done for our heroes?

We look back to the Lincolnshire Free Press this week in 1918...

The problem of finding work for discharged and disabled servicemen was resolutely tackled during 1917.

Twelve months previous, the question of pensions and the disabled men drifting into a condition of chaos was a concern.

In August 1916, it was quite possible to find that a man who had served with distinction at Gallipoli was playing a barrel organ in the streets because he may have been unable to secure the pension to which he was entitled.

In an extreme case, such a man was charged with vagrancy and handed over to the police-court missionary - and cases of hardship or injustice were constantly being reported. Drastic change was needed and the whole pensions organisation was overhauled, with the Ministry of Pensions, the Labour Exchanges and the YMCA special exchange for the disabled creating a sysem for keeping constantly in touch with discharged men, from when they were well enough to leave hospital until in full-time employment.

There were about 900,000 men on the Pensions list in 1918, with up to 40 per cent gong back to their past employment, another 10 per cent trained to become skilled artisans, while a certain number who would recover their health and become as good men as they were before.

The tragic problem, though, was those, who by reason of their disability, may never again be ‘normal’.

The training on offer to thos men included courses in electrical wiring, lift attendance, cinemagraphic operating, photography, tailoring and coppersmithing.

As soon as a man was accepted for the training, he would receive a disability pension of 27s 6d a week, plus an allowance if he was married and had to move away for his training and also extra payments for the care and upkeep of his children.


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