HC Deb 10 August 1916 vol 85 cc1249-51W

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether his attention has been called to the case of Sapper Benson, Royal Engineers, whose Record shows that he joined the Colours in October, 1914, was in the battle of Neuve Chapelle, where he was gassed and shot through the groin and leg, and, after recovery in England, returned to the front and took part in the battles of Ypres, Hill 60, Soissons, Messines, and Loos; whether he is aware that Benson, during an assault by the Germans on the British trenches, succeeded without aid in rescuing eight wounded men and a wounded officer, and while carrying another wounded man was shot through both legs, blown into the air, and subsequently buried in débris from shell burst, and as a consequence losing his sight and the use of his limbs; whether he is aware that a record of his conduct was read out in brigade orders at three parades and recommended by the general; whether he is aware that Sapper Benson is now at home again, blind and partially paralysed, that he is thirty-eight years of age and has a wife and three children, that he is totally incapable of any employment, his injuries being pronounced as permanent by the Army medical officers, and that so far he has not received any recognition of his action, nor has he received any pension, his sole means of subsistence for himself and his family being an allowance from the local relief committee of 25s. weekly; and whether, having regard to Sapper Benson's conduct while at the front, any recognition that may be due shall be awarded him and, having regard to the fact of the present hardship this soldier is enduring, an allocation of full pension and other allowances to which he may be entitled will be promptly made?


Sapper Benson was discharged on the 7th July. There was some delay in sending his papers to Chelsea, but the temporary allowance of 20s. a week was paid very shortly after discharge. The Chelsea Commissioners have now awarded him a temporary pension of 25s. a week, to which will be added 2s. 6d. a week for each of his three children.


asked whether the War Office meet the case of soldiers killed by accident while not in the performance of actual military duty; and, if so, how is this done?


When the accident is due to circumstances arising out of the man's employment as a soldier, as distinct from risks to which civilians also are exposed, his widow and children would be eligible for pension (and other dependants for pension or gratuity) provided there had not been fault or negligence on the man's part sufficiently serious to invalidate the claim.


asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he will state the nature of the financial provision made for the wives, children, or other dependants of uncertifiable nerve-shaken soldiers sent to special hospitals and of incurable soldiers sent to asylums; and whether the War Office is directly responsible for the financial liability in such cases?


So long as these soldiers are retained in military hospitals their families and dependants remain entitled to separation allowance. In regard to pensioners in asylums, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on the 7th instant to the hon. Member for West Ham.