War Pension Duplicate Letter Book (1919-20)


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TANDM 1467 – War Pension Duplicate Letter Book (1919-20) Kept by W J Munro, District Clerk, in his capacity of Clerk to the local Pensions Committee.

The letters are addressed from 6, King Street.  Unfortunately, there are no copies of the forms/applications and other relevant documents referred to in the letters.  However, some letters do give some details relating to some of the hard cases WJM is pleading for, and overall, a fair picture emerges of the effects of the war and its aftermath on local families dependent on those members of their families taken from them either temporarily or permanently.  Unless otherwise indicated, the letters are usually addressed to G F Sinclair, Local Pensions Committee, Dingwall, forwarding documents and details and giving support for the claims etc.

The various sources of funding seem to have been – King’s Fund; Civil Liabilities Department; Soldiers & Sailors Families Association (S&SFA); Harry Lauder Fund; grants for reinstatement; Separation  Allowance; Childless Wives Grant; Association of Highland Societies in Edinburgh;

12/5/1919 – lending his support for the release of Private William R Mackay to help run the family business – See Balnagown Hotel in T & D buildings file – The father was now over 70 and broken down in health so all the burden was on the mother.

24/5/1919 – Ditto Sgt. R Mackenzie – sister was mentally ill and physically unable to look after herself.

19/8/1919 – to Rev. Kenneth McLean, Chapelhill, Nigg Station, re. Mrs Elsie Kerr, 9 Shore Road, Shandwick – for a Childless Wives’ Grant.

19/8/1919 – to Mrs Flora Cameron, Lochslin Cottage, Fearn, re. a claim for a sickness grant to widow’s of deceased men – supported also by Dr Mackenzie.

22/8/1919- to the Rev. C Robertson, The Manse, Fearn, re. some claim forms he requested.  [It seems the clergy helped out as far as their parishioners were concerned.]

22/8/1919 – re. Mrs Jane Gunn, Easter Rarichie, Nigg, and Mrs Catherine Macrae, Carrieblair Crescent, Edderton; mentions a W N Ross, Excise Officer, Edderton.

25/8/1919 – to Mrs Jane Stewart, Calrossie Mains, Nigg, re. an unnamed application on behalf of her son, Pte James Stewart.

2/9/1919 – to a Miss Budge, St Margaret’s, Tain, re. a A J Macrae, Easter Rariche, Nigg; the Fort William Pensions Committee were enquiring if his mother had been dependent upon him since his discharge from the Army.  A later letter reveals that this soldier had lost a leg and couldn’t work.  WJM argued his case as if it had been a wife & family instead of a father and mother.  The father was a decent hard working man, now advanced in years; both sons hopelessly wounded and had been living at home after discharge. [In a later letter there is mention that Miss Budge is now in Tain and that her brother farms Easter Rarichie.]

12/9/1919 – to Charles J Ness, Calrossie Mains re. Mrs Jane Stewart (see above).

26/9/1919 – re a Mrs Christina Macrae (location?); 2 sons – Murdo, now demobilised, and Ewan, still serving; re separation allowance.

27/9/1919 – re. a Mrs Mary Ross, Meikle Rhynie, Fearn.

2/10/1919 – re. a Mrs Christina Vass, 13, Bank Street, Balintore.

18/10/1919 – to D J Ross, West House, Portmahomack, re W Duff, Chapelhill; enquiring what wages had been paid to the soldier.

18/10/1919 – To Captain T J Romanes, Dunskaith, Nigg, re a letter sent by him concerning homes for “war orphans” which WJM was going to put before the nect committee meeting.

21/10/1919 – re a A McCaskill, Abbotshill, Tain. who now lives at Nigg Station.

21/10/1919 – to R Munro, Meikle Rhynie, Fearn, (farmer) re a claim for pension by Mrs Mary Ross on behalf of her deceased soldier son, Alexander Ross,; WJM needs a note of the wages & perquisites given to the husband and the other son.

21/10/1919 - Re. a Hugh Mackenzie, tailor, Hill of Fearn, who, prior to the war, had a prosperous business as tailor and clothier – himself and 3 sons, co-partners, no wages paid.  When the father and sons joined up (1916) the business closed down.  One son was killed, one was in hospital and is tubercular; the father and third son have been demobilised and are anxious to start business again.   WJM enquiring how best to get funds for this purpose.  Then in 10/1/1920 – re Hugh Mackenzie, Woodbine Cottage, Fearn, - local committee recommend a grant of £300.

28/10/1919 – to Rev. William Johnstone, UF Manse, Nigg, re. a Mrs Isabella Macleod, Primrose Cottage, Pitcalzean;  WJM needs the medical certificate filled in.

30/10/1919 – re Mrs Margaret McLeod, 10 Stafford Street, formerly, 13 Academy Street) accompanying a medical certificate filled in by Dr E K Mackenzie, Tain, as to her physical condition.  Also contains a testimony by WJM on her behalf – family are all married now; she is left alone; her married daughter leaves next week for East Africa/Cuba (? – both are mentioned in different letters); a son got married 2 months ago; she is over 70 years old and physically broken down.  He has written to the Board of Pensions Committee of Canada, London re Pte G Macleod [a son/husband? Application for his release/or a pension?)

4/1/1919 – re a Pte John Duff, Seaforth, now deceased, who was employed by a Mr Sangster, Aberdeen, as a baker in Portmahomack before he joined up; his father is applying for a pension and WJM needs to know the son’s wages before he enlisted and what he would be earning now.

5/11/1919 – re the Life Certificate for Mrs E Mackenzie, 13, Ross Street, Tain, “to which she has put her mark, verified by Bailie Donald Macleod.”

5/11/1919 – re. John Ross, Victoria Terrace, “a most respected tradesman.”  Just before the war his employer (John Munro, plaster contractor) died and he took over the business, with the help of his son.  As his soldier son was now deceased he had no such help and also his business had been badly hit by the war.

5/11/1919 – re. Alex Patience, Chapelhill, Portmahomack.  Mitchell, Post Master, says the PO authorities have agreed to re-install him as a post-runner in Portmahomack district, provided he can get a horse and trap with a grant from the King’s Fund.  He is in bad health and not fit for any other kind of employment so WJM would like his previous application for clothing to be extended to cover the horse and trap. 

5/11/1919 – re an Alexander Mackay, 2 Shore Street, Balintore, a wounded sailor, who needed to hire a horse and trap to attend “our meetings”.   WJM asking for his expenses to be covered and 12/12/1919 they are being sent to him.

1/12/1919 – WJM’s auditer, Mr Gill, Bank Agent, has been unwell and confined to his bed.

9/12/1919 – re Mrs Helen Henry, Rockfield, Portmahomack.

9/12/1919 – re. Andrew Ross, Quarry Lane, - the committee do not think a butcher’s business would be appropriate employment for this discharged soldier.  WJM is going to discuss it with him when he is discharged from the sanatorium.

24/12/1919 – re Miss Catherine Ross, Lower Rarichie, Fearn.  

27/12/1919 – to a Mrs J Mackenzie, The Croft, Pitcalnie, Nigg, re her claim for pension.  In 31/1/11919 we learn that her husband was a man of over 66 years and used to be the owner of a travelling threshing mill.  He had an accident which left him practically blind 20 years ago but continued working until a few years ago when his whole threshing plant was destroyed by fire.  His wife and he are now alone on the croft and wholly dependent on it.  It was a poor place with really only grazing for one cow and a little potato land.  The soldier son, had he lived, would have been their main support.  He was very much attached to his parents.

9/1/1920 – re Mrs Annie Rose, Springfield – her 4 sons joined up early in the war and served overseas.  One of them is deceased so his earnings have been lost to the household.  Another son, Donald, has been discharged and is the only other person at home at present and is unemployed; 2 brothers and a sister work elsewhere but do not contribute.  17/1/1920 – to Councillor James Rose, Springfield (husband of Mrs Annie Ross above) and 19/1/1920 – to Sinclair – Mr Rose states that he is to fill up no more forms.  During the time their son was alive, he accepted no Separation Allowance on his behalf and in view of the fact that his boy, before enlistment, contributed 10-15/- a week, his mother is entitled to a pension on that account under part B.  He makes no claim under part  C.

9/1/1920 – re James Shivas, 19 Joss Street, Invergordon – married man with wife and 5 young children dependent on him.  He had a cycle & motor business at Invergordon which had to be closed down after his enlistment.  In the interval strangers came into town and set up opposition shops.  He is now anxious to re-establish his business and should have the good will and support of the community.  He estimates £200 at least is needed at the present time to stock a cycle shop.

9/1/1920 – re. C F Easson (new to the district) and Lewis Mackay, both 3, East Street, Balintore.  Easson is a discharged disabled soldier (brother-in-law of Mackay) and is at present employed as a chauffeur at Balintore Hotel.  Mackay has returned to his old employment as a fisherman.  They wish to get a motor car and work in partnership to convey fish daily to the nearest station (3½ miles) for the southern markets and also use the car for hiring purposes (!)  They would pay back the car by instalments.  WJM argued that it would give a new start to 2 discharged men and encourage the fishing industry in the area.

9/1/1920 – re an outstanding Recoverable Advance to a Mrs Chisholm, Duke St, Tain.

17/1/1920 – to G H Paterson, Inverness, Local Fuel Overseer, re a coal shortage in the Balintore distict.   It included a form from James Ross & Co, Coal merchant, Balintore.  WJM verifies the details and states that they supply 3 fishing villages with coal, mainly in small quantities and asks that they should get their quota as soon as possible.

22/1/1920 – re Mrs Jane Anne Mackenzie, 10 Queen Street, Tain.  WJM sending a Certificate signed by Dr. Hugh Ross, certifying that her earning capacity is reduced to one half. 

22/1/1920- re Mrs Isabella Macallister, Fearn Station; “This woman belongs to the travelling tinker class.  Captain G A Gordon, Fearn, took an interest in her case.  She can’t read or write.”   WJM verifies what she says.   Although Fearn was her headquarters, she wandered a lot and was not there at that time.  The soldier (son/husband?0 had been employed before enlisting by Hector McVinish, contractor, Inverness.

 Then on 7/4/1920 – owing to the state of her health and destitution she was forced to take refuge in the Easter Ross Union Poorhouse about a month ago but whenever she got well enough, she has gone on the tramp again….WJM does not know where she is at the moment.  Drs. Ross & Mackenzie both assure him that she is quite incapable of self-support.  When she is in the district she always calls at WJM’s office to know about her pension.

24/1/1920 – re. James & Alexander Taylor, Sandbank, Portmahomack – two brothers, one eligible for a grant from the King’s Fund, the other from the Civil Liabilities Dept.  They would like a motor transport wagon.  The village was currently without coals owing to the lack of traction facilities from the nearest station as the steam engine plant that used to be available for he purpose has now been sold outwith the district.  Thus Portmahomack has no means of conveyance of essential commodities from the station.

29/1/1920 – to D G Munro, Bankhead, Portmahomack re his renting of the Grass Park at Seafield from the Board.

31/1/1920 – to Rev. Ewan Fraser, UF Manse, Portmahomack, re Alex. Patience, Rockfield village; WJM is trying to get him an increased pension on the basis of the dependence of the parents on the deceased soldier.  He needs a certificate from Dr. Pyle to the effect that Patience is now physically incapable of self-support.  Meanwhile, WJM will see what can be done in way of temporary relief.

4/2/1920 – to M Norrie (?) manager, Tainfield, re G M Mackenzie, Tainfield farm who had received a pair of surgical boots.  He wants him to ask the pensioner to sign the receipt and return it to him.

5/2/1920 – re Alex. Wood, Fife Cottage, Hilton, about the expenses for travel and maintenance when he was under treatment at Aberdeen after his discharge.

5/2/1920 – re Hugh Mackay, 9 King Street, Hilton, discharged soldier.  He has made a reasonable request for £50 to enable him to commence hiring with a horse and trap.

7/2/1920 – to Mrs Ellen Lapworth (in another letter, Blackworth?), Craig Cottage, Nigg Station, re her application for an increased allowance.  The committee thought she would be eligible for Childless Wives Grant…..came to reside in the district on 15/3/1919.  

7/2/1920 – re Mrs Catherine Peter, Sutherland Street, Tain, widow of L/C David Peter, Black Watch.  WJM is arguing the case for a pension on behalf of a child, then 2 years old.  [“Davie Peter” – assistant in pierracini’s?].  David Peter had been discharged medically unfit and died from the effect of a scalp wound.  Catherine also had an aged mother to look after.  She would willingly take place as a domestic servant but the young child makes this impossible.  WJM has been able to augment her own pension from various sources but these were now exhausted.  {Davie Peter also had a son called David who was in the army the became manager in a Bird’s Eye factory in East Anglia (?).

10/2/1920 – re. William Sutherland, School Cottage, Tain (now part of the school?); had been a foreman gardener earning good wages but had to give up for health reasons; was now school janitor, salary £1 per week plus a war bonus of £8 per annum; living at home he has a wife, earning nothing, and his youngest daughter has just gone out to work as a clerk in a solicitor’s office.  This daughter was a Junior Student and had aimed at becoming a teacher but had sacrificed her career.  Her earnings, however, do not suffice to pay board and clothing.  The older daughter had been in good service but her health broke down and she died in 1919.  They had 3 sons – a wireless operator on a ship who has never contributed; a second in the Canadian Forces and is now in Canada and is not a contributor; the third is in the RAF and provides a separation allowance of 

10/- per week; the fourth son was killed and he had been the best help and had he survived would have been their main support.  WJM had managed to obtain their present pension and it “would be nothing short of a tragedy if it was cancelled or lessened.

17/2/1920 – re Mrs C Nicol, Shandwick Street, Tain; has 2 unmarried daughters; the older one sacrificed her situation in Glasgow to come home and nurse her mother; the younger remained in Glasgow in service as a children’s nurse and gave such assistance as her modest income allowed – articles of clothing etc rather than money.  Now the older daughter has had a complete breakdown in health due to the strain and the younger one has had to relinquish her position and is now home nursing both.  The old lady never recovered from the death of her soldier son thus the mother’s breakdown is mental as well as physical.  The position at present is very precarious…….this is a most distressing case.

21/2/1920 – to the Right Hon. Ian MacPherson MP re. war pension of Mrs Annie Fridge, Stafford Street, Tain – Mr & Mrs Fridge receive only 16/6 on behalf of their 2 sons……both were Territorials and on military service from the start of the war, Aug 1914 (both were killed).  Willie (killed in 1916) was within 6 months of ending his apprenticeship as a coach painter and would have now been earning £3 per week.  The father has been a confirmed invalid for over 15 years and now receives parochial relief of 4/- per week.  The public got up a subscription for the couple and WJM got help from S&SFA & Association of Highland Societies and even the Easter Ross Farmers Club gave a donation, to keep them going but WJM had reached the end of his tether. 

3/4/1920 – to the Ministry of Pensions re L/C A Lee Robertson, Academy Street, Tain, 3rd Scots Guards, No. 3327 – a discharged soldier….has been examined by the medical board at Inverness and assessed with 80% disability…..has had no further communication with regard to his pension and things had got worse….one of his children had to be sent away at Xmas time, a second time, for treatment for a tubercular knee (?) and is still in Inverness Infirmary……he himself has got steadily worse and is unable to leave his bed.  WJM has involved the aid of outside agencies to keep the family alive but his resources are now almost exhausted…increased pension required.

5/4/1920 – re the late Private George Mitchell, Portmahomack.

5/4/1920 – re W G Watson, Fountain House, Potmahomack – the local committee do not recommend this man’s claim for grant from King’s Fund to enable him to purchase a motor car for use at Portmahomack.

7/4/1920 – re Donald Ross, Little Rhynie, Fearn…with a certificate from Dr Hugh Ross, Tain….and a form signed by Bessie Ross, sister of the soldier…..father, David Ross, is blind.  Bessie is the only one living with the father and they are wholly dependent on the separation allowance.

12/4/1920 – re Mrs Christina Ross, Lochslin Farm, by Fearn.