, , , , , , ,

There is a tragic tale in the Express & Star of 7 November 1917, reporting on the Coroner’s inquest into the death of James Price. Price served as a Private in the Worcestershire Regiment (number 8772), and was wounded twice. He was discharged in August 1916. He lived with his wife, Lily, and their child, at 3 Bromley Street, and received a pension of 10s. 6d. a week, but had otherwise not received any other income as he had been out of work.

He applied to the War Pensions Committee, at Molineux Hall, to try and obtain an increased pension of 27s. 6d. a week. On 18 October 1918 he became ill with acute bronchitis. On 25 October, Mrs Price attended the Committee, but was told that, before he received the full pension, “the committee had to be satisfied that the bronchitis was connected with the [gunshot] wounds” he had received. On 26 October, though still ill, he himself went to Molineux Hall in an attempt to plea for the increased pension, as he felt that there was not choice “as there was no food in the house”. He saw his doctor, Dr Mactier, later that evening, who “told him he was committing suicide by being out.” The coroner’s inquest concluded that his death was as a result of the “undue exertion the deceased undertook when making the two journeys.” The jury returned a verdict of “death from natural causes” but protested against the current systems, suggesting that a voluntary fund be set up locally to offer instantaneous relief in future similar cases.

The report in the Express & Star prompted a number of readers to write letters in response. A letter from “E. H. G.” was printed on 9 November 1917, expressing his “disgust at the procedure of the Pensions Ministry”. The correspondent stated that such cases would continue to arise, but “That one who had served his country and returned broken in health should have been allowed to be buffeted about is a standing disgrace to all concerned.” Finally, the writer urged “that our heroes when they return are treated in a manner more commensurate with their achievements.” A letter from “Only a Discharged Solider”, printed on 16 November 1917, points out that discharged soldiers receive a card stating that the duty of these committees is to make “provision for their health, training and employment”. He suggests that perhaps some discharged men could sit on the committees, as they have “made some sacrifices, and can understand the position of the discharged man, and see that they get justice.” Finally, W. Sharples, the Honorary Secretary of the Wolverhampton branch of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers, states that “I do hope in future that a disabled hero will not have to leave a bed of sickness to apply for assistance, after his wife has applied.” He stresses that it would be better, in urgent cases, “to render assistance first, then make inquiries afterwards.” His letter was also printed in the newspaper on 16 November 1917.

Private Price is buried at Bilston Cemetery.