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canada war pension

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canada war pension

Postby Jen1974 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:21 pm

Good Evening,

My Great grandfather fought in WW1 for the CEF, he was brought up in Canada from age 12 as he was sent there with Banardos.
He joined the Militia in Toronto as John William Wharton, he was married and had 2 children. He then joined the CEF, as William John James or John James, he didn't tell the army that he had children, his wife had died in childbirth.

He married my Great Grandmother in 1917 in Surrey but disappeared from the face of the earth in 1937, I'm wondering would he have got 2 war pensions, and as he was gassed would this be an ongoing payment? I am trying to find out what happened to him, and when he died.

Thanks for any assistance
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Re: canada war pension

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:03 pm

While the Western Front Association has pension records, they are those for the *British* Army. To state what you may feel is the obvious, you need to understand those for the Canadian forces. Afraid that I have no idea where you might find a forum of CEF experts.

Based on my British experience, I doubted that his militia service would be pensionable. BUT if you look at Canadian Army in Wikipedia, you find that officially there was no such thing as the Canadian Army until 1940. Officially it was the Canadian Militia! Which puts another angle on his Militia / CEF service.

I have no idea whether any British pension payment for being gassed would continue or not. Lots of payments were only for a short period.

You may find something more out in the next year or two as Libraries & Archives Canada are digitising the full files of the CEF soldiers - at the moment, they only have the outer pages of the Attestation forms done for all. I think that they are about halfway through the alphabet with the full versions. That may contain some details of the pension award - if any. But if it doesn't, I don't know if that means that he didn't get one!

Good luck.

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Re: canada war pension

Postby ianbee » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:13 am

CEF Attestation of John James b. Blackburn is here ... ber=482930

His service file is digitized ... B4775-S030
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Re: canada war pension

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:19 pm

Wow - never seen a Canadian service record before - 56 pages of it! I suspect that the Canadian "Army" (officially, the Militia, it seems!) would have followed UK War Office practice so I'll bet that the UK files would have been as big to start with and there has been massive weeding of pages at various points in the history of the UK files.

I have been trying to work out what happened with pensions in the British Army but there doesn't seem to be a clear, single page statement. If anyone knows of one, please shout up! The point is that there are / were 2 sorts of pension - disability pensions and (long) service pensions. It seems easy to find lots of stuff about disability pensions - less so about service pensions. is a book entitled War Pensions and Allowances but does seem to refer only to disability pensions.

There is a post on the Great War Forum that reads:
Pension ages other ranks, 1914 Pay Warrant:
after 14 years eligible service if discharged invalided
after 14 years ditto ..................................... on reduction of establishment, except reservists who have rejoined colours
after 18 years if discharged for benefit of public service
after 21 years.


From this, I interpret that the default period of service required for entitlement to a (long) service pension was 21y in 1914, with potential reduction to 18 or 14 depending on circumstances of discharge. It therefore suggests that people who served for (roughly) the duration of WW1 would not be entitled to a service pension. However, such people, if wounded, might be entitled to disability pensions - or if killed, their dependants might receive a pension.

Returning to John James, sheet 17 of his file shows that he was discharged with no disability. However, this might not mean he wouldn't have got a disability pension, as the Long Long Trail website warns that soldiers might come back later, even if discharged ostensibly fit, and request a disability pension.

So applying British logic to a Canadian situation (major health warning!) I'm highly dubious that he would have got a service pension and dubious that he'd have got a disability pension.

This is the best I can do to set expectations - you really need an expert in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.....
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Re: canada war pension

Postby MaureenE » Fri Aug 19, 2016 7:07 am

Regarding service pensions:

From before 1870, there was a service pension after 21 years of service in the British Army. However, these were quite small, as it was assumed that a man would probably be about age 40 or less, when he left the Army, and would be capable of gaining employment.

After 1870 you don’t see much about service pensions, probably because relatively few men became entitled to them.

This was because from 1870, as part of the Caldwell Reforms, “short service” was introduced, where men enlisted for a period of time in the Army, the balance of time in the reserves (total twelve years). The standard term varied over time, including six and six, seven and five, three and nine, nine and three years.

A service pension after 21 years (or in some circumstances a lesser number of years) was not applicable for the vast majority of men. There were relatively few men who continued to serve on longer than the short service men, long enough to become entitled to a small service pension. From what I can gather, these were generally sergeants in an instructor type role, or perhaps men who had some sort of special trades skill.

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Re: canada war pension

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Aug 19, 2016 7:12 am

Thank you, Maureen. I actually hadn't twigged the difference that the Caldwell reforms on short service would make to the numbers of soldiers getting pensions.

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