Pension plea of discharged young soldier


An early example of hardships that could await many men who returned wounded from the Front was contained in a letter in The Luton News (August 3rd, 1916) signed "F. J. W. L. (Late Bedfordshire Regiment)". He wrote:

I wish to draw your attention as to how I have been treated since being discharged from the Army. I was wounded at Gallipoli, and have been discharged six months.

I have received a pension for two months, and one of the two months I was in hospital. Now I receive no pension because of a medical board having marked my paper 'Fit'. I supposed they think I am able to earn my own living, and I have tried, but my health had failed me, and I am still under doctor's treatment and practically ruined for life.

A sympathetic response came in the following week's edition from Mr E. J. Mayles, of 49 Warwick Road, Luton. He wrote:

In the case of your correspondent "F. J. W. L." I happen to know him personally, and I think when our brave lads, such as the one mentioned, have given up all to fight for King and Country, have had the misfortune to get wounded and practically ruined for life, and have been discharged as unfit for active service, something should be done for them in the way of recompense to keep them from depending on their friends for a living.

I know this case very well. He has been discharged four months. Out of this he has received two months pension and now he receives nothing at all. I ask is it fair for the Medical Board to pass a person like this fit for work, and thus thrust him upon the mercy of the country and his own personal friends?

I say he is not in a position to work, unless the occupation is very light, having lost the use of one arm practically. He is still under doctor's treatment, and who is to pay the expenses? His parents?

I think something might be done for such cases by our War officials to make such needed cases as light as possible.

Footnote: "F.J.W.L." was almost certainly Frederick John William Lemmon (pictured above), then still aged only 17, of 34 Spencer Road, Luton. He had been discharged from the Army following a bullet wound in the neck and it had been discovered he had lied about his age and was only 16 while fighting at Gallipoli. He died in Luton in September 1986 at the age of 87.