Contentious issue of demobilisation

The contentious issue of demobilisation of soldiers following the war was highlighted by an unnamed soldiers' wives in letters to The Luton News.

In the Thursday, March 13th, 1919, edition 'A Soldier's Wife' wrote: “Like many others, I want to know why men who joined the Colours in 1918 and have never seen service abroad, are released, while our men who joined in 1916 and have fought for their country are still kept in the Army. Many of them have work to come to and yet cannot get their discharge. Surely a man who has fought should be released before one who has only recently put on khaki.

“Then again, at the time of the General Election, the Liberals promised no conscription and quick demobilisation. But how have they kept that promise? By voting for a further 14 months conscription for the men who have fought, while those who joined up in 1918 are allowed to return to civilian life.

“It is very unfair, and causing a good deal of bitterness among we women, who have struggled to keep the home going while the men have been away.

“It would have been much fairer if those men who have not fought had been kept for the Armies of Occupation. Surely the man who joined in 1916 has done his bit.”


And in the March27th edition, 'Three Years Separated' wrote: “With the passing of the Military Service Bill, the minds of most wives of Derby men will be taken back to the glib promises of Lord Derby on the introduction of the Derby Scheme, as to the consideration which was to be shown to married men.

“The Derby men, who have already given three years of their lives to the common cause (in mo0st cases two years overseas) should surely receive some consideration. These joined to help in ending the war, not to do the fighting and policing afterwards.

“If sufficient volunteers are not forthcoming for the necessary Army of Occupation, the average soldier's wife will want to know why her husband should be retained for another year when 'on the ground of expense' no young men of 19 have been called to the Colours since the Armistice, when each lad called up would allow of someone's husband being released.

“Then again, a profitable source would probably be amongst the crowds of male ex-munition worker drawing unemployment benefit, who have experienced none of the mental anguish which continuous separation means.

“Then again, we all know of cases where boys with next to no service have already managed to get out of the Army, owing to the fact that scheme after scheme has been in operation for demobilisation.

“This Bill vitally affects the wife and children of every Derby man, and I hope every woman affected will take careful note of her particular Member of Parliament, that he husband may be reminded of this at the next General Election”