|Rushden Echo, 16th October 1914, transcribed by Gill Hollis
No Pay for Soldiers?
With all the news and reports of the splendid arrangements being made for the prevention and relief of suffering we can hardly turn a deaf ear to the well-founded complaints of soldiers and their wives whose pay is not what seems to have been promised. We have it on good authority that payments to married soldiers now in training in England amounts to little more than 1s. a week. The sum of 7s. is supposed to be allotted to each soldier, married or single, but from the pay of the former 5s. 3d. is deducted by the paymaster to be sent to the wife. Of the remainder, 9d. has to be paid for washing, leaving 1s. for the poor soldier to go through the week with. Now, no deduction is made from the pay of the single men, and, consequently, much unpleasantness is caused by the big difference in the spending powers of the men. It is of little use to say that the married man must contribute to the upkeep of his house, or that he should not have been married – if it is necessary for single men to have 7s. a week, how can the married man meet the same liabilities with a shilling? We are told that married soldiers are forced to sign a document authorising the deduction under the threat of further reductions being made from the pay of the wife at home. That is, unless the soldier allows 5s. 3d. to be taken from his weekly allowance to help to keep his wife, she will not receive independently from the War Office so big a sum. In other words, “To her that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” It is perfectly obvious that the married soldier feels the effect of this treatment very keenly, but, in order that sufficient money shall be forthcoming for the upkeep of his home, he signs the money away, even though he has to send for some of it back again. There is thus an unnecessary loss of money in postage. One of the clubs at Higham Ferrers has taken the matter up very strongly, and has decided to make no more contributions to the National Relief Fund, but to undertake the relief of sufferers in this way, as far as their own powers are concerned, independently of any other organisation. The committee of the club are of the opinion that the most deserving cases are not receiving the most substantial grants. This is a serious state of affairs, and the present is no time for wrangling about the administration of the National Relief Fund. We are continually reminded that the best and most economical form in which to deal with distress is to grant powers to one central authority rather than institute multifarious administrative bodies with the inevitable over-lapping and wastage. But, on the other hand, it is well to air grievances of this character in order that the matter may receive the attention necessary. The more confidence we can place in those in authority, the better able are we to face the common foe. The pull will be long and strong, but it must be altogether.