Sunderland Echo - - Armistice 100 -

ser­vice and the num­ber of wounds a man had re­ceived, it en­sured that the long­est-serv­ing sol­diers were gen­er­ally de­mo­bilised first. The new sys­tem de­fused a dan­ger­ous po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, al­though prob­lems still oc­curred. De­mo­bilised Com­mon­wealth sol­diers were often left wait­ing for long pe­ri­ods un­til trans­port could be found to ship them home. In March 1919, a mutiny at a Cana­dian camp in Rhyl was only sup­pressed af­ter sev­eral men were killed.

On the whole, how­ever, de­mo­bil­i­sa­tion was a suc­cess. In Novem­ber 1918, the Bri­tish Army had num­bered al­most 3.8 mil­lion men. A year later, it had been re­duced to 900,000. And by 1922, the to­tal was just over 230,000.

Over two mil­lion men in the Bri­tish and Com­mon­wealth armies were wounded dur­ing the war. Thou­sands suf­fered long-term dis­abil­i­ties caused by am­pu­ta­tion, blind­ness, dis­fig­ure­ment and poi­son gas dam­age to heart and lungs. Oth­ers had men­tal health prob­lems caused by the psy­cho­log­i­cal trau­mas they had ex­pe­ri­enced. Im­prove­ments in ar­ti­fi­cial limbs, plas­tic surgery, facial re­con­struc­tion tech­niques and psy­chi­a­try brought some re­lief. But many were left to fend for them­selves with lit­tle fi­nan­cial or so­cial sup­port from the state. War and three other or­gan­i­sa­tions) and the Bri­tish Lim­b­less Ex-Ser­vice­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion (es­tab­lished in 1932) cam­paigned for bet­ter pen­sions and pro­vided con­va­les­cent homes, shel­tered work­shops, hos­tels, food and cloth­ing for ex-sol­diers and their de­pen­dants. Such or­gan­i­sa­tions, along­side reg­i­men­tal as­so­ci­a­tions, of­fered many vet­er­ans a sense of be­long­ing and a re­newal of the com­rade­ship of the trenches.

De­spite the Lloyd Ge­orge govern­ment’s prom­ise of a ‘land fit for heroes’, many ex­sol­diers suf­fered dur­ing the 1921 eco­nomic slump. Un­em­ploy­ment in­creased and the am­bi­tious pro­gramme of post-war re­con­struc­tion was can­celled. But, de­spite the wide­spread in­dus­trial and po­lit­i­cal un­rest of the era, the ma­jor­ity of Army vet­er­ans were re-in­te­grated suc­cess­fully into the Bri­tish econ­omy. Un­like many of their Ger­man, Rus­sian and Ital­ian counterparts, most Bri­tish ex-ser­vice­men did not sup­port ex­trem­ist po­lit­i­cal par­ties or para­mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Com­rades of the Great War mem­ber­ship en­rol­ment card, 1919 A mem­ber of the Women's Army Aux­il­iary Corps tends a tem­po­rary grave­yard at Eta­ples, 1918.The Bri­tish War Medal (above right) was awarded to all who had com­pleted 28 days mo­bilised ser­vice dur­ing 1914-18; The Al­lied Vic­tory Medal (above left) was is­sued to all who served in a the­atre of war be­tween Au­gust 5, 1914 and Novem­ber 11, 1918

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