British soldiers’ pension records

A man did not have to be discharged on medical grounds in order to make a claim for pension

As part of the demobilisation and discharge procedures, all soldiers were required to state any claim of medical problems or disabilities arising from or being aggravated by their service. The man underwent a pre-demob medical examination at which these problems or disabilities were recorded. It was possible for a man to submit a claim even if he was discharged quite normally: for example if he had been wounded but made a recovery during service or if he had contracted malaria but was otherwise well at time of his discharge, he might make a claim.

If the man was discharged on medical grounds his claim was made by default.

Those claims that were made were taken to an assessment board. The man may have been awarded a pension or gratuity, depending on the rating of his disability and his position with regard to dependents. There was a standard schedule of rates payable. Most pension awards were subject to review after six or twelve months.

Available records

The man’s service record will usually contain details of his claim and the pension awarded (if his record still exists).

If he was awarded a Silver War Badge there is a strong possibility that he was awarded a pension.

A collection of disability and dependents’ pension records was released in 2012 and is now held by the Western Front Association. They have been digitised by Ancestry and can be searched and downloaded online. Unfortunately for most users, they have been placed into the Ancestry subsidiary Fold3, which requires a separate subscription. A search via Ancestry itself will reveal the existence of a record but to see it you will need to go into Fold3. An alternative is to join the Western Front Association as a member, for they provide a window into their records held in Fold3.

Widows’ and dependents’ pension records

See this list of holdings at the National Archives

War Pensions Agency

For records of continuing payments after the initial award it will be necessary to apply for details from the War Pensions Agency. They should be able to advise you on the availability of the records and how to apply. This is also the source of information concerning widow’s pensions.

War Pensions Agency, Norcross, Blackpool FY5 3WP, United Kingdom.