During the Second World War, some 250,000 British servicemen were taken captive either by the Axis powers or the Japanese, as a result of which their wives and families became completely dependent on the military and civil authorities for news of their loved ones and for financial and material support. This book outlines the nature of their plight, and shows how they attempted to overcome the particular difficulties they faced during and in the immediate aftermath of hostilities. It opens up a whole new area of analysis and examines the experiences of the millions of service dependents created by total war. Taking as its starting point the provisions made by pre-Second World War British governments to meet the needs of its service dependents, the book then goes on to focus on the most disadvantaged elements of this group – the wives, children and dependents of men taken prisoner – and the changes brought about by the exigencies of total war. Further chapters reflect on how these families organised to lobby government and the strategies they adopted to circumvent apparent bureaucratic ineptitude and misinformation. The book contributes to our understanding of the ways in which welfare provision was developed during the Second World War.
This chapter elaborates the different scales of allowances that were applicable depending on whether the serviceman was deemed to be missing, prisoner of war or killed. For many families, the point at which a missing breadwinner changed from being categorised as ‘missing’ to ‘presumed dead’ or ‘prisoner of war’ was often critical in terms of family budgeting. The chapter explains how the lack of a coherent policy on length of payment of temporary allowances and the length of time taken to make decisions on these matters affected the finances of the families concerned. It raises the question of why the government chose to extend the ‘missing’ allowances on a short-term basis rather than agree a workable solution for the duration of hostilities, throughout 1941 to 1945.
This chapter deals with the administration of allowances for the families of servicemen taken captive both by the Germans and Italians in Europe and by the Japanese in the Far East. It explains the problem of delays to payment of allowances suffered by many service families and the problems associated with ascertaining the true status of ‘missing’ servicemen. Prisoner-of-war families often faced further delays to the payment of their allowances in relation to the physical arrangements for such payments. The chapter explores different schemes, whereby the families of prisoners of war could receive the allowances as well as withdraw the amount from the servicemen's account. It discusses how the driving force behind the decision was the scale of the administrative burden caused by the implementation of such a system rather than the needs of the families concerned.
This chapter discusses the issue of the provision of information, news and support to the families of prisoners of war. The information about prisoners was largely collected from escaped or repatriated British prisoners and then collated by the Prisoner of War Department at the Foreign Office. The study reflects the areas of dissatisfaction that became evident in the government treatment of prisoners of war and their families during the Second World War. Three main factors affected the length of time taken for official notification that a man had become prisoner: the number of prisoners captured at any one time, the medical condition of the man himself at time of capture and the locality of the actual capture. Finally, the chapter draws comparison between the government attitude towards developing a coherent policy for the administration of service allowances and towards administering the dissemination of information.
This chapter discusses the information and support provided by charitable and ‘self-help’ agencies such as the Soldiers', Sailors' and Air Force Families Association and local committees. The lack of coherent policy and the competition for superiority between charitable organisations increased and mirrored the confusion caused by the lack of an overall policy between government departments, and motivated the desire to establish their own action groups, whereas the lack of coherent policy regarding the dissemination of information did not explain the rapid proliferation of local prisoner-of-war committees and support groups. The chapter raises the question of possible tensions between various charitable organisations, each of which laid claim to being the organisation primarily concerned with the welfare of prisoner of war families. It reflects upon the difference between two types of support agencies for prisoner-of-war families, namely, local prisoner-of-war committees and national charities.
This chapter reviews the changes to service allowances in the immediate postwar period and considers whether the experience of administering these allowances during the Second World War resulted in any significant changes in the existing administrative systems. It discusses why the maintenance of a high military profile had political as well as economic implications. The chapter reflects upon the problems associated with retaining and recruiting career soldiers, such as the well-being of families of soldiers on active duty, financial issues, pension levels and dependent allowance. Further, it examines the changes in service allowances resulting from the introduction of national Family Allowances and the beginnings of the welfare state.
This chapter focuses on the British government and its treatment of prisoner-of-war families during the Second World War. It raises the question of how the British government and the British public actually viewed its servicemen who had fallen into enemy hands, and establishes a general framework within which to locate government treatment of prisoner-of-war families as distinct from service families in general. The chapter examines the extremely complex relationships between the various state departments and agencies concerned with the welfare of and information relating to British prisoners of war during the Second World War to understand the relationships between servicemen's families and the state.
This chapter provides an outline of the historical development of service allowances and their administration in the period to 1918, their further development during the interwar period and the changes brought about by the advent of the Second World War. Britain was almost half a century late to acknowledge state responsibility for service families compared with its major protagonist in both World Wars. The study elaborates how the government and the armed services ignored any responsibility to provide continuing support for the families of those fighting for their country. Gradually, a slow change took place; provision for families became a particularly important issue when length of service was taken into consideration. The problem now became one of administration rather than conviction.
Service Family and Dependants’ Allowances, 1939 to 1945
This chapter focuses on the changes in and administration of allowances during the course of the war, most notably the introduction of new levels of allowances in 1942 and 1944, focusing on the particular difficulties encountered by the families of those taken captive. Throughout the course of the Second World War, the question persisted of whether or not service pay and allowances were adequate. The chapter raises a discussion on how suggestion of wives turning to prostitution to supplement their allowances never appeared as an issue in political debates. Furthermore, it highlights that, in November 1940, both family and dependants' allowances were increased, at least partly in response to local and national campaigns.
This chapter provides answers to the questions of the development of British welfare policy for service families and prisoner-of-war families during the Second World War, explaining how government agencies ignored the experiences of the First World War in relation to both service allowances and prisoner of war matters. Further, it elaborates on the fact that both the War Office and Treasury ignored the possible effects of mass conscription. No action was taken in the aftermath of the First World War to ensure better provision for the families of those taken captive, resulting in the failure to frame a long-term policy or adequate channel of communication through which prisoner-of-war families could make enquiries and seek advice. The chapter concludes by stating that no changes were made in order to promote the services as an attractive career option.