Following his demob from World War One in 1919, wounded Blantyre soldier, Charles Harvey was promised a war pension. However, he was waiting “quite some time” before eventually getting it in 1978!
His amazing 59 of patience finally came to an end in August 1978 as the 86 year old Lanarkshire soldier received £1,057 (around £6,000 in todays money) following talks between his local MP and Government Minister.
The story starts in 1914 when Blantyre born Charles joined the Cameron Highlanders. He fought valiantly for his country, but was wounded in the legs and at the Battle of Loos, he was taken prisoner. On his liberation when war ended, he returned home and started to receive a war pension due to his injuries.
However, his pension mysteriously just stopped after 6 months and Charles decided to wait to hear from the Government as to why. It was suspected they may have got in touch, but his late wife had a habit of throwing out mail which looked to be junk or circulars and Charles thought this was the reason. Charles said in 1978, “I meant to get in touch with the government, but the years just seemed to roll on and I never got round to it. Slowly the connection to the war seemed further and further away.”
Despite his injury, Charles became a miner and worked hard until his semi retirement when he became a lollipop man for 14 years before finally retiring in 1973.
In April 1978, at the age of 86, Charles got talking to his local MP Dr Maurice Miller about his forgotten pension. Maurice was interested in the story and got in touch with the Ministry of Defence, before being passed on to Dept of Health and Social Security.
After the department found some dusty old files, there was Charles’ entitlement to a pension and notes saying that he could not be contacted back in 1919! It was a great piece of detective work by the Department.
Charles was delighted to receive a backdated lump sum of £1,057 and it is said he had a wonderful celebration at his home in Camelon Crescent, not forgetting to toast Dr Miller in the process.
A few weeks later Charles met up with Maurice Miller and they opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate, the first time Charles had tried the bubbly in all of his 86 years!
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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