Douglas C. (Douglas Crawford) McMurtrie.

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relating to allowances and pensions ; to make provision for the care
of disabled officers and men after they have left the service, includ-
ing provision for their health, training, and employment.

The statutory committee was thus to assume, under Government
supervision, the duties discharged by the national fund working in
conjunction with the two associations already mentioned. It was
expected that the work of supplementing inadequate allowances and
pensions would still go on, as the Government did not see its way
clear to establish a flat rate of pensions sufficiently liberal to meet
the necessities, or elastic enough to provide for differences in pre-
war incomes. To do this the statutory committee was expected to
raise funds for the purpose. But it soon became evident that this
was impractical, for it was felt in many quarters that inasmuch as
the State had undertaken to direct the work formerly done by
voluntary organizations, it should also provide the funds. So the
committee was given an initial grant of £1,000,000, a sum that was
subsequently largely increased.

M Great Britain : Report of Disabled Sailors' and Soldiers' Committee, p. 6.
" 5 and 6, Geo. 5, c. 83.


This plan had not been long in operation before it was seen to
be faulty, in that no responsible ministry was charged with this
large expenditure of public funds. The statutory committee was
only a quasi-official organization and, not being a governmental de-
partment, could not communicate directly with other departments.

Furthermore, the responsibility for the care of the disabled man
was divided between the commissioners of the Royal Chelsea Hos-
pital, the Admiralty, and the statutory committee. In 1681 the
Royal Chelsea Hospital was founded by Charles II as a kind of
soldiers' home, after the order of the Hotel des Invalides. The
granting of pensions to disabled soldiers had for over two centuries
been in the hands of the Chelsea commissioners. The record of those
200 years is filled with hardships to the disabled soldier because
of the inadequacy of the pensions and the fact that for a long time
the pension funds were largely drawn from the soldiers' pay in the
form of compulsory contributions. The commissioners also sup-
plied the cripple with artificial limbs. The Admiralty looked after
the disabled in the navy, which had its own scale of pensions. The
functions of the statutory committee have already been stated.


In order to unify the administration of pensions, grants, and
allowances to men discharged from service because of physical un-
fitness, Parliament passed in December, 1916, the ministry of pen-
sions act, 18 by which all the powers and duties with respect to these
were transferred from Chelsea Hospital, the war office, and the
Admiralty to the ministry of pensions.

No change was made in respect to the statutory committee, which
was now made responsible to the ministry of pensions, and the local
committees continued to function as before. But it was not long be-
fore it was found that it was inconvenient to have the responsibility
divided between the statutory committee and the ministry of pen-
sions, and in April, 1917, the former asked that its functions be trans-
ferred to the ministry of pensions and that it cease to act. The re-
quest was granted and the statutory committee passed out of existence
August 31, but the local committees continue to perform their work
under the direction of the ministry of pensions.

The basis upon which pensions were at first awarded to disabled
men was compensation for decreased earning capacity. Upon his dis-
charge the man appeared before a medical military board, which
made a rough estimate of his decreased earning capacity due to his
injury and awarded a temporary pension accordingly. After a time,
perhaps in six months, he would be reexamined and if his earning

» 6 and 7, Geo. 5, c. 65.


power had been increased through training, or he had been able to
secure remunerative employment, his pension might be decreased.
The result was that the incentive to take training was removed inas-
much as it was liable to result in a reduction of his pension. It was
quite evident that a different principle in the awarding of pensions
would have to be adopted if " pension hysteria " were to be obviated.
All the other allied countries have been forced to meet this difficulty
in a similar way.


The royal warrant of 1917 bases a man's pension upon the degree
of his physical disability, not upon the decrease in his earning ca-
pacity. 19 A private who is discharged because of physical unfitness
attributable to military service receives 27s. 6d., a week during his
lifetime if he is accounted totally disabled. Officers receive more
according to their rank. A man is accounted totally disabled, for
pension purposes, if he has lost two or more limbs, a limb and an eye,
the sight of both eyes, or certain other specific disablements. He is
considered to be 80 per cent disabled if he has suffered the loss of both
feet, a leg at the hip, a right arm at the shoulder, or the loss of speech.
A short amputation of the thigh, the loss of a left arm at the shoul-
der, or of a right arm above or through the elbow is counted as a 70
per cent disablement, and so on through a schedule of specific in-
juries down to what is counted as a 20 per cent disablement. Below
that degree the man is given a lump sum once and for all. This is
termed a "gratuity."

The warrant states that "when a permanent pension has been
granted it shall not be altered on account of any change in the
man's earning capacity, whether resulting from training or other
cause." This effectually laid the ghost of pension bugaboo. When
the men learned that whatever they were able to earn was just so
much to the good, the incentive to take training was greatly increased.

It is quite possible that a man who is accounted to be totally dis-
abled, say, through the loss of a hand and a foot, may be trained to
earn a fair wage which, when added to his pension, will enable him to
raise his standard of living. It is a fact that there are some disabled
soldiers who are in better financial circumstances now than they were
before the war because of this dual source of income.

In addition to his disability pension a man is to receive an allow-
ance of 5s. a week for the first child under 16 years of age, 4s. 2d.
for the second child, 3s. 4d for the third child, and 2s. 6d. for each
child after the third. These allowances may be continued beyond the

10 Great Britain : The drafts of a royal warrant and of an order in council for the
pensions of soldiers and sailors disabled, etc., 1917, p. 11.


age of 16, up to 21 years if the child is receiving education in certain
schools or is incapable through infirmity of earning a living.

The new warrant also introduces an element of elasticity and of
adjustment to a man's prewar wage by a scheme of alternative pen-
sions. The effort has been made to restore a man approximately to
his prewar standard of living. If a man can show that his pension,
with children's allowances and the wages he is capable of earning
falls short of his prewar wage, he may be granted in lieu of his pen-
sion and children's allowances an alternative pension " which, to-
gether with the average earnings (if any) of which he is judged
capable, shall not exceed his prewar earnings, up to a maximum of
50 shillings a week, plus half of any prewar earnings between 50
shillings and 100 shillings a week." This somewhat complicated
arrangement inures to the benefit of the skilled worker who was
earning high wages before the war.


We must now consider the State's plan for affording a disabled man
such occupational training as he may need to fit him again to be-
come a wage earner in spite of his handicap. Every crippled man
has residual powers which may, through training, be turned to his
economic and moral benefit. The man who lies down on his pen-
sion when he might be a productive unit in industry not only suffers
loss himself but is a drag to society, however much his services to
his country may deserve grateful recognition. No better recognition
can be given his services than to put him in the way of returning
to a life of normal and improving activity.

Section 6 of the royal warrant provides for the support of a man
and his family during his period of training and the payment of
all fees involved. It provides, in general, that when it is deemed
best that a man should receive training in a technical school, or
otherwise, that he shall receive his total disability pension of 27
shillings 6 pence a week and, if his training necessitates his living
away from home, his family is to receive, in addition, such allow-
ances as would fall to them in case he were dead. In other words,
during training he is paid as if he were totally disabled and his
family as if he were dead. A deduction of 7 shillings a week is
made to cover his maintenance while living in an institution, all fees
for tuition are paid, and, in addition, he is given a bonus of 5 shill-
ings a week for the whole period of his training.

It may help to an understanding of the State's plan if we follow
the fortunes of a man from the time he is injured until he is placed
again in industry.

Prior to a man's enlistment his standard of living was generally
determined by the wages he received. Upon his enlistment he re-


ceived his soldier's pay of 7 shillings a week and upward, accord-
ing to the branch of service, his rank, and period of service. Out
of this pay the private must allot 3 shillings 6 pence a week to
his family. The Government adds to this allotment 9 shillings a
week for a wife, 5 shillings a week for the first child, 3 shillings 6
pence for the second, and 2 shillings for the third and each addi-
tional child. This constitutes the " separation allowance " for the
maintenance of the family while the breadwinner is in military
service. It is paid weekly in advance through the post office.

From the moment a man is so seriously injured at the front that
his discharge from military service is inevitable because of his physi-
cal incapacity his return to his prewar status in civil and industrial
life is begun. The State has recognized its obligation to assist him
all the way back. During the first part of his return trip — that is,
until his medical treatment has advanced to such a stage that he
can be fitted with an artificial limb in case he needs one and can get
the further care he may require as an out patient — he is under mili-
tary authority. During the second stage of his return, after his dis-
charge from the army or navy, the State continues its care under
civil authorities acting through the war pensions local committee.

After receiving first aid near the scene of action he passes through
the clearing station to the base hospital, and thence to a first-grade
hospital in " Blighty." If he needs special orthopedic care he is
sent to one of the seven or more military orthopedic hospitals. If
he has suffered the amputation of a limb he goes to a " limbless "
hospital and is given every opportunity to make as complete a re-
covery as modern science can assure. 20 He is given massage, elec-
trical treatment, mechanotherapy, and other forms of treatment
designed to restore functional activity in the injured member and fit
the stump for an artificial limb.

Chief among the therapeutic agents is manual work of some kind.
This is styled " occupational therapy." For this purpose workshops
have been established in th<, principal limbless hospitals, notably at
Brighton, where the work is supervised by vocational experts drawn
from existing technical schools. Functional activity in the injured
member is less delayed by the discomfort of exercise when the mind
is intent upon accomplishing a bit of work than when a prescribed
motion is followed because of its therapeutic value.

It is during this early stage of his recovery that a disabled man
is given the first opportunity, under military supervision, to begin
a course of training that may fit him either to resume his former
occupation or enter a new one. The training is not compulsory, but

so There are five military hospitals for limbless men : Pavilion Military Hospital,
Brighton ; Alder Hey Auxiliary Hospital, Liverpool ; Scottis National Red Cross Hos-
pital. Bella Houston, Glasgow ; Edinburgh War Hospital, Bangor ; Welsh Metropolitan
War Hospital, Whitechurch near Cardiff.


the men are strongly urged to begin a training that can be continued
in a technical school after their medical treatment has been com-
pleted and they are discharged from military service. The principal
courses given in Brighton are in commercial subjects, wood and
metal working, motor mechanics, and electrical engineering.

The disabled man may remain at the limbless hospital from three
to six months before he is ready to be fitted with an artificial limb.
He is then sent to a " fitting " hospital, the most notable one being at
Eoehampton. This was the first hospital to establish a workshop
adjunct. The shops are called the Queen Mary Workshops in honor
of the Queen, who contributed to their establishment. 21 Here the
stay is of shorter duration than at Brighton, generally lasting from
10 days to 3 weeks. Surgeons examine the candidate for a limb and
prescribe the kind they think best adapted to his needs.

There are several manufacturers of artificial limbs with workshops
on the hospital grounds. The material used is largely willow wood
grown in the United States and covered with rawhide. When a
man has lost both arms he is generally fitted with one ordinary arm
and a Carnes' arm, an expensive and complicated American invention.

When the limb is made and fitted a period of trial is begun, with
frequent inspection to test its suitability and to enable the recipient
to accustom himself to its use. In the shops at Eoehampton practi-
cally the same trades are taught as at Brighton, and a man who has
availed himself of the longer period of training in the former hos-
pital may reap further vocational benefits while being fitted. .

After a man has been fitted with an artificial limb and has acquired
some proficiency in its use he is ready for discharge from military
service. Up to this point he has been receiving his army pay and
his family its separation allowance. His treatment and his limb
have been furnished by the military authorities. His discharge will
work a change in his status. He will pass out from under the care
of the war office, and his future will be directed by the ministry of
pensions working through the local committee of the district from
which he enlisted.

When the extent of a man's disability is determinable, as is the
case with a limbless man, his pension is fixed at once according to
the schedule of disabilities put forth in the royal warrant of 1917.
In the case of a man whose injury has not reached its final stage a
provisional pension is awarded, which may be either increased or
decreased, according to the results of further treatment. But when
the final stage has been reached and it is believed that the permanent

a Other fitting hospitals are : Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors
and Soldiers, Erskine House, Glasgow ; Edenhall Hostel, Kelso ; Prince of Wales' Hos-
pital, Cardiff ; Ulster Volunteer Hospital, Belfast ; Princess Patricia's Bed Cross Hospital,
Bray, County Wicklow.


results are determinable, the man is granted a pension 22 which can
not be altered to his disadvantage, however great an earning capacity
he may develop. But should his disablement increase, from causes
attributable to his military service, the question may be reopened at
his request and the amount of his pension readjusted to his benefit.

Upon his discharge from military service the man is given a card
prescribing the further medical treatment he should have. He has
already been visited in the hospital by a representative of the local
committee of the district in which the hospital is located, who obtains
the facts about his former employment, his preferences, and any other
information that may be helpful to the local committee of his home
district in planning for his future. This information is sent to the
local committee of the district into which he will go on discharge.

The experience at Roehampton is that men under treatment fall
into three classes: (1) Men who are prepared to work anywhere and
for whom employment must be provided, (2) men who will return to
their former employers, and (3) men who will only work in the vicin-
ity of their own homes.

Several courses are open to the disabled man upon his return to
his home. He may remain idle and attempt to live on his pension,
in which case his standard of living is likely to decline, or he may
seek such employment as he may enter without training. The temp-
tation to do this at present, when there is an abundance of work even
for handicapped men, is very strong. If he slights the training
offered at the State's expense he is in danger of entering a "blind
ally " occupation in which there will be no chance for a disabled man
at the close of the war when the able bodied return to compete with
him. If he yields to this species of opportunism his standard of
living may keep up for a while, but it is likely to fall rapidly when
normal industrial conditions return.

The other course open to him, and the one the authorities urge him
to take, is to undergo training for some approved occupation at the
expense of the State.

It is the duty of the local committee to get in touch with a dis-
charged man on his return home and look after his needs. If he
needs further medical treatment, as indicated on his discharge card,
he is to be directed to some hospital where he may receive the neces-
sary care at the State's expense. The royal warrant stipulates that if
a man will not undergo the prescribed treatment one-half of his
pension may be withheld. But this extreme measure is not adopted
except in the case of contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis.

*» This is termed the " minimum pension." For the " alternative pension," see p. 86.


Training is not compulsory, but it is the duty of the local committee
to urge it upon disabled men, as the instructions of the Ministry of
Pensions indicate:

The local committee should regard themselves as responsible for all dis-
charged men of this class living in their area. They should make it their
business to get in touch with every such man, whether or not he has obtained
employment or occupation since his discharge, and see that the treatment or
training which his condition needs is secured for him when he needs it. Many
men are able very readily at the present time to obtain employment of one kind
or another, but such employment may, owing to their physical condition, be
actually detrimental to their permanent health. Others may drift into occupa-
tions in which their employment may only be temporary, whereas if they had
received training for a skilled occupation they would have the prospect of
permanent employment. It is vitally important both in the man's interest and
in that of the Nation that any case which needs either treatment or training
should be taken in hand at once. Local committees must not be content with
dealing only with the men who happen to present themselves to them for as-
sistance ; they must see that they have information as to the condition of all
discharged pensioners in their areas, and make a point of getting in touch
with them directly they are discharged. 2 *

It is not expected that every disabled man will be a proper subject
for training and the local committee is not authorized to undertake
a course of training " for any man who merely fancies a new occupa-
tion in place of his old one." 2 * It is to be guided in its decisions by
several considerations: (a) The man's previous occupation; (b) the
suitability of the occupation to the man's age, disablement, and
physical condition; (c) the recommendation, if any, as to training
which may be indicated on the notification of award of pension, or in
any report by a hospital visitor; (d) the opportunities for earning
a permanent livelihood in the occupation. 25 Stress is rightly laid
upon the necessity of guiding the man into an occupation that affords
good prospect of permanent work at a living wage.


The training of any large number of men for industry involves
questions affecting both the employer of labor and the working
classes. To undertake to place a large number of men in a particular
trade might disturb conditions in that industry and arouse antago-
nisms that would be unfortunate. For this reason the ministry of
labor, cooperating with the ministry of pensions, has set up trade
advisory committees, made up of an equal number of representatives
of organizations of employers and workpeople for " special trades "
that are likely to be affected by the training of disabled men. It is

** Great Britain, ministry of pensions : Instructions and notes on the treatment and
training of disabled men, p. 22.
24 Ibid., p. 39.
» Ibid., p. 10.


the duty of these committees to advise the ministry of pensions as
to conditions under which the training of disabled men in the various
trades can best be given, the best methods of training, the suitable
centers for it, and generally to secure uniformity in the training. 28

Trade advisory committees have been appointed for the following
special trades : (1) Engineering and shipbuilding, (2) building (with
six subcommittees), (3) printing trades, (4) furniture, (5) leather
goods, (6) boot and shoe manufacture (machine), (7) hand-sewn
boot and shoe making and repairing, (8) tailoring, (9) cinemato-
graph industry, (10) cane and willow, (11) jewelry trades, (12)
brush making, (13) dental mechanics. 27

Besides these trade advisory committees, there are local tech-
nical advisory committees in each locality for each trade approved
by the ministry of pensions. Their function is to consult with
the local committee as to the selection of suitable candidates for
the trade and the suitability of the training offered in technical
schools and workshops with special reference to the prospects of per-
manent employment, the rate of wages offered at the termination of
the training, and any other technical point involved in the question.

The ministry of pensions seems to lay no restrictions on the train-
ing of disabled men in any agricultural school, farm colony, or croft
established or assisted by the board of agriculture and fisheries.
Certain conditions are imposed upon training in technical schools and


An educational task of large proportions and unusual features was
assumed by the British Government when Parliament passed the
naval and military war pensions act.

The statutory committee thought that the national health com-
missioners could handle the problem, but they demurred on the
ground that it was out of their province. Then Sir Alfred Keogh,
the director general of the army medical service, was asked to assume
the responsibility. He recognized the fact that it was a task which
involved the used of the existing facilities possessed by the technical
schools of the country. As it happened, he was the president of the
Association of Technical Institutes. Accordingly, at a meeting of
the association held in the Imperial College of Science and Tech-
nology on October 21, 1916, at which he presided, the question was
discussed. In a paper read at the meeting, Maj. Eobert Mitchell,
director of education of the Eegent Street Polytechnic, London,
said : 28

" Great Britain, ministry of pensions : Instructions and notes on the treatment and
training of disabled men, p. 42.

" War Pensions Gazette. London, 1917, 1, 81.

28 Maj. Robert Mitchell t What can be done to train disabled sailors and soldiers in
technical institutions. Bolton, 1916.


It therefore appears desirable, if this problem is to be dealt with satisfac-

Online LibraryDouglas C. (Douglas Crawford) McMurtrieThe evolution of national systems of vocational reeducation for disabled soldiers and sailors → online text (page 10 of 38)