- Contributed by
- People in story:
- WILLIAM HENRY BARNES
- Location of story:
- SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 24 June 2004
I was just out of my teens when I received my conscription papers forceing me into the Army, if I deserted I understood that I could be shot by the british army for desertion as they were in WW1.I was now faced wiyh the fact that I had a 50/50 chance of being wounded or killed.
During the first week I was told that I/we were told that our pay would be two shillings a day,[ 14 shillings a week ] [ my job as a civillian payed £6.00 a week ]BUT, was informed that as our dependants under finicial pressure as they would now only be receiveing 14 shillings a week, would we like to contribute some of our 14 shillings a week to our dependants, half of us took one pace forward in agreement, and signed away half our pay, which gave our dependants 21 shillings a week my wifes rent was £1.00 a week, most of our dependants had to rely on charity to survive.
I/We were then told that the army would only pay out in round sums of 5 shillings as my pay was now down to 7 shillings a week I would only now receive 5 shillings a week untill the other 2 shillings reached another 5 shillings then I would get 10 shillings a week and so on.
So for my life and limb I was being payed 5 shillings a week, as my pay in civvie street was paying £6.00 a week I was either a poor paid slave or I was being made to pay for my equipment food and clothing.
[ after the war my job paid £8.00 a week ]
further punishment was that I/We would only
get leave once every 11 months to see our families, and of course many received their first "dear john" letters just before their leave came up.
The British government had all pay records destroyed in 1947, they did not want reseachers to find out.
While on guard duty at a condemed prison call "the verne off Portland Bill, I would look down on Weymouth, and think everyone else is doing everythimg as normal, and receiving wages for their job, and here were we being locked up at night just like a prisioner.
I am now 84 years old now , after the war I was demobed in 1946 given a suit and not even a thank you from the British Government
The public should know this, as well as everything else that is made public.
Yours Faithfully W H Barnes
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.