We remember those who died but all too often forget those who survived but were maimed or traumatised.
It is also important to remember that the impact of the deaths upon wives and loved ones was often devastating and could lead to further tragedy, as in the case of Rose Sutton, whose husband was killed with the 1st Mons in June 1916. He had been posted missing for three weeks before news of his death came through. The blow was so great that Mrs Sutton threw herself into the River Usk at Caerleon and drowned herself.
One of the most tragic cases is that of John Breeze of Cwmcarn. He had been a cheerful man and devoted father, yet in 1926 “deranged because of the ordeals he went through with the Monmouthshire regiment during the war” he killed his three young daughters, unaware of “the nature and quality of the act committed”. He was found guilty but insane and sentenced to be detained during His Majesty’s pleasure.
REWARDS FOR WAR SERVICE (FROM OLD SOLDIERS NEVER DIE BY FRANK RICHARDS -1933)
I was demobilized in Liverpool on December 5th 1918 and when I filed by the doctor he inquired, after looking at my medical history sheet, if I still suffered from haemorrhoids. I replied that I did, but would see what I could do for myself. I left the Army A1 and soon got down to work. But my complaint grew worse and after spending much money and giving every known remedy a fair trial I got fed up. In two years and a half I drunk enough of medicine to float the British Navy and swallowed enough of pills which if they had been made into cannon balls would have knocked down all the concrete pillboxes on the Western Front. I was also suffering with rheumatism at the time and in 1921 I applied for a Medical Board…
…A few weeks later I was notified that the Medical Board had found that I was suffering from haemorrhoids and rheumatism and that the haemorrhoids had been aggravated by my War service: for which I had been awarded a disability pension of eight shillings a week for sixty-five weeks. Before this time expired I would be notified to appear in front of a Medical Board for a further examination. No disability pension could be awarded for my rheumatism which in their opinion had not been caused or aggravated by War service…
Two months later I was sent to a hospital and was operated on. The Staff Nurse who was present at my operation told me that I was the worst case she ever saw with my complaint, and the most serious operation, and also that I had used the worst language she had ever heard. I apologised and said that I had probably gone back to my 1914-1915 language. I had good treatment in that hospital….
I appeared in front of another Medial Board and was notified that I had been awarded a final weekly allowance of seven-and-sixpence for seventy weeks, and the award could not be extended beyond this period. My civilian friends were astonished that I did not receive a pension of some sort and had a job to understand me when I told them that I was quite satisfied, and thankful that I was not blind, that I had my limbs, that I was not horribly disfigured and that I was not an inmate in a mental home like tens of thousands of poor men still are who served in the War.
Since 1921 I have had a pretty tough time and have had long periods of unemployment and I expect that there are thousands like me who are worse off than I am.
TREATMENT OF THE DISABLED (SOUTH WALES WEEKLY ARGUS 23RD NOVEMBER 1923)
Complaints have been made by some of the new patients at the Ministry of Pensions Hospital (Chepstow) of incivility towards them when entering certain business establishments in the town. That any person should so far forget himself or herself in such a way towards the men who are permanently disabled by the war is almost unbelievable. It is hoped nothing of the kind will occur again.