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‘Temporary Gentlemen’ in the aftermath of the Great War: rank, status and the ex-officer problem*

  • Martin Petter (a1)

The ex-officer problem in Britain following the Great War derived its special meaning from the difficulties associated with finding a satisfactory relationship between wartime rank and postwar status. Images of social decline competed for public attention with those of social elevation. Behind these images lay a series of dilemmas about how to reconcile the social and economic effects of military promotion with the claims of democracy. The shifting usage of the term ‘temporary gentleman’ during the war reflected the changing background of those being granted commissions, and the possibilities of upward mobility produced tensions which were to persist and grow after demobilization. Government policies for ex-officers, in seeking to assist talent without perpetuating the distinctions of rank, were directly affected by such tensions. Ultimately, expectations of higher social status faded in the light of experiences which conveyed a sense of loss and decline, and ex-officers became a symbol for those who saw their pre-war social position being threatened in a less secure world. However, the ex-officer problem existed in its own right as the result of the uniquely awkward adjustments associated with being ‘de-officered’ at the same time as being demobilized.

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I wish to thank McGill University and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for their support of the research for this article.

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1 Army and RAF figures appear in the War Office, Statistics of the military effort of the British empire during the Great War, 1914–1920 (London, 1922), p. 706; London, Public Record Office (P.R.O.), Cabinet Office (CAB) 24/107/CP 1493. Those for naval officers may be found in Cmd. 451, Statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty explanatory of the Navy estimates (Parl. Papers, 1919–20, XXXIII). See also P.R.O., CAB 24/76/GT 6942.

2 The Times, 30 Jan. 1920. See also Baird, H. H. C., The service handbook, for the general guidance of ex-officers of all branches of the service (London, 1920), pp. 3753.

3 The journalist Philip, Gibbs was just one of many who took it for granted that among the demobilized the ‘officer class was the hardest hit’: Now it can be told (New York, 1920), p. 549. The statistician Bowley, A. L. made his one exception to the ‘temporary’ nature of demobilization difficulties the ‘young officers, who had no professional or industrial experience or training’: Some economic consequences of the Great War (London, 1930), p. 167. See also Cyril, Falls, ‘The British Legion’, The Nineteenth Century and After, XC (12. 1921), 953.

4 Capt. H. H. C. Baird, a leading champion of ex-officers' rights, described the correspondence column of The Times as ‘a safety-valve to their troubles… Not a day passes that letters do not appear from “Fed-up”, “Ex-Major”, “Disappointed”, “Demobbed”, and all the rest of it.’ The Ex-Service Man, 8 May 1919. See, for example, The Times 12, 15 Apr. 1919, 19 Nov. 1919. The personal column performed a similar role. See Denis, Winter, Death's men, soldiers of the Great War (London, 1978), p. 242. For Haig's views see The Times, 5 May 1919; The Graphic, 17 May 1919; HC 247, First and second reports from the select committee on pensions (Parl. Papers, 1919, VI), minutes of evidence for 1 July, 1919. See also Parliamentary debates (Commons), 5th series, vol. CXVI, 28 May 1919, c. 1265–1334; Army and Navy Gazette, 26 Apr., 2 Aug. 1919.

5 Edward, Marjoribanks, Famous trials of Marshall Hall (London, 1950), pp. 316–42.

6 Robert, Graves and Alan, Hodge, The long week-end (New York, 1940), p. 66.

7 Douglas, Goldring, The nineteen twenties (London, 1945), p. 5. See also Mowat, C. L., Britain between the wars (London, 1956), p. 203; Turner, E. S., Gallant gentlemen: a portrait of the British officer, 1600–1956 (London, 1956), pp. 294–5; John, Montgomery, The twenties (London, 1957), p. 50.

8 Non-fictional works include John, Collier and Iain, Lang, Just the other day (1932); Gibbs, Now it can be told; and Masterman, G. F. G., England after war (1923). A number of prominent ‘war books’ played their part, notably those by Richard Aldington, Ford Madox Ford, Robert Graves, Wyndham Lewis, R. H. Mottram, Siegfried Sassoon, Herbert Read and Henry Williamson.

9 Samuel, Hynes, A war imagined, the First World War and English culture (London, 1990), pp. 304, 345, 351, 356.

10 Cyril, Falls, War books, a critical guide (London, 1930), p. 270. Two other novels in the same vein as Deane's are Philip, Gibbs's bestseller The middle of the road (London, 1923), and William, Mackay, Ex-soldier we are dead (London, [1930]).

11 Deane, Peter, The victors (London, 1925), pp. 54, 77, 97; Falls, , War books, p. 270. See also Deane's article ‘The tragedy of the survivors’, The Nation & Athenaeum, XVIII (Oct. 1930), 102–3. For a revealing account of the similarly severe difficulties faced by Wilfred Owen–s two brothers as ex-officers in postwar Britain, see Harold, Owen, Journey from obscurity: III. war (London, 1965), pp. 234–59. The experiences of a disabled ex-officer are well described in Marjorie, Seldon, Poppies and roses (Sevenoaks, Kent, 1985). Stephen, Graham provides a first-hand account of ex-officers among London's down-and-outs in London nights (New York, 1926), p. 18.

12 The Service Man [formerly The Ex-Service Man], 18 Dec. 1920.

13 Claude, Cockburn, Bestseller (London, 1972), pp. 124–7; Hynes, , War imagined, pp. 349–50, 356–61; Ross, McKibbin, The ideologies of class (Oxford, 1990), pp. 272–3, 298. For the outlook of the middle class after the war see Robert, Lynd, The passion of labour (London, 1920), chap, III: ‘The threatened gentleman’; Masterman, England after war, chap, III: ‘The plight of the middle class’; MrsPeel, C. S., How we lived then 1914–1918 (London, 1929), pp. 6, 183–92; Bernard, Waites, A class society at war (Leamington Spa, 1987), pp. 51–4, 81119, 240–64.

14 The Times, 15 Apr. 1919.

15 Gentleman in this context meant the manners and education, if not always the breeding and wealth, of a ‘country gentleman’. See Gwyn, Harries-Jenkins, The army in Victorian society (London, 1977), pp. 1258; Spiers, Edward M., The army and society 1815–1914 (London, 1980), pp. 511.

16 Willard, Waller, The Veteran comes back (New York, 1944), pp. 108, 147–50. Waller supplies the First World War example of the former captain of the Rainbow Division who became a shoe-shop assistant. For a Canadian study which also has valuable observations on ex-officers see Robert, England, Discharged (Toronto, 1943). On the general problem of re-adaptation see Maxwell, W. M., A psychological retrospect of the Great War (London, 1923), pp. 179–86.

17 It is touched on briefly by Lewis, Roy and Maude, Angus, The English middle classes (London, 1949), p. 77; Mowat, Britain, p. 203; Turner, , Gallant gentlemen, p. 294; Reginald, Pound, The lost generation (London, 1964), p. 85; John, Keegan, The face of battle (London, 1976), p. 278; and Hynes, , War imagined, p. 360.

18 Mottram, R. H., Another window seat or life observed: volume two, 1913–1953 (London, 1957), pp. 1112 and The twentieth century, A personal record (London, 1969), p. 73. In both versions of his autobiography he wrote of being ‘de-officered’ as well as demobilized. See also A. A. Milne's bitter story ‘The return’, which drew on similar experiences, in the Fortnightly Review, CXVII (1 Feb. 1922), 341–52.

19 The play was highly successful and was made into a film in 1920. No published copy could be traced, but the plot can be largely reconstructed from press reviews and Maltby's memoirs Ring up the curtain (London, 1950), pp. 149–52.

20 The Times, 10 June 1919.

21 Morning Post, 10 June 1919.

22 Maltby, , Ring up, pp. 137–50. Maltby had apparently refused the chance of gaining a commission in order to remain a corporal among the comrades of his section. The Ex-Service Man, 21 June 1919.

23 He also attributed its success to the fact that his leading man, Gordon Ash, was a demobilized man like himself, who understood how to speak his lines. Maltby, Ring up, pp. 150–2.

24 Manchester Guardian, 10 June 1919.

25 For officers' demobilization figures see Pigou, A. C., Aspects of British economic history 1918–1925 (London, 1947, 1971 impression), p. 216. Roughly half of the final total of demobilized army and air force officers had returned by mid-May, and two-thirds by early August 1919.

26 P.R.O., Ministry of Reconstruction (RECO) 1/88. Also see The Times, 16, 26 Apr., 5, 6 May 1919; Morning Post, 3 June 1919; P.R.O., Ministry of Labour (LAB) 2/1515/DRA 116/10; Charles, Carrington, Soldier from the wars returning (London, 1965), p. 76. For references to young officers being paid in the £500–£800 range see The Times, 16 Apr. 1919; P.R.O., LAB 2/1515/DRA 116/23 and LAB 2/1517/DRA 179/3. The question of officers' unrealistic salary expectations was raised in the Commons during the Supply Debate of 29 April 1919, Parliamentary debates (Commons), 5th series, vol. CXV, C. 70.

27 Parliamentary debates (Commons), 5th series, CXV, 29 Apr. 1919, c. 51–71. See also the coordination of demobilization section of the war cabinet, council meetings of 13 March and 14 April, where it was reported that fifty per cent of the appointments department's vacancies provided a salary of £200 or less: P.R.O., CAB 33/20. The role of the appointments department is discussed below. Many ex-officers were asked to consider salaries around or below £150, and it was not uncommon for some to be offered their former positions at the same salary they had received before the war. For examples see Wheatley, D., Officer and temporary gentleman 1914–1919 (London, 1977), p. 242; The Times, 16, 28, 29 Apr., 6 May 1919; P.R.O., LAB 2/1517/DRA x79/3; and the transcript of the interview with Lt. Col. R. L. Haine, Sound Recording no. 000033/06, London, Imperial War Museum.

28 Richard, Aldington, Life for life's sake (London, 1968, first published 1940), p. 189. The play is not named, but its identity is unmistakable. The incident clearly played on Aldington's mind, since he also used it earlier in his story ‘The Case of Lieutenant Hall’, in which an anguished young officer is driven to suicide shortly after seeing the play. The coroner comments that ‘it was about time these young men came to their senses, realized that life is not all sky-larking, and settled down to do a little honest work’. Roads to glory (New York, 1931), pp. 289–90. For other ex-officers who shared Aldington's sense of anger and alienation after demobilization see Stephen, Casson, Steady drummer (London, 1935), pp. 263–5; Chapman, G., A kind of survivor (London, 1975), pp. 88–9; Charles, Douie, The weary road (Stevenage, 1929, reprinted 1988), pp. 219–24; Ford Madox, Ford, It was the Nightingale (Philadelphia, 1933), pp. 6384; Herbert, Read, The contrary experience (London, 1963), pp. 217–18; and Henry, Williamson, The linhay on the downs (London, 1934), p. 247.

29 Sydney, Moseley, ‘The problem of the ex-officer’, The English Review, XXVII (10 1918), 291–3. Moseley based his findings on the experience of disabled officers who had been discharged before the Armistice.

30 Dewar, George A. B., ‘A national debt of honour: the case for our disabled officers’, The Nineteenth Century and After, LXXXVII (01 1920), 30.

31 DSS Bulletin [National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers], 19 June 1919. For the emphasis on ‘democracy’ and suspicion of officers in ex-service organizations see Graham, Wooton, The politics of influence (London, 1963), pp. 8794; David, Englander, ‘The National Union of Ex-Servicemen and the Labour movement, 1918–1920’, History, LXXVI (02 1990). 27–8.

32 Of the 229, 316 combatant commissions awarded between August 1914 and December 1918, 212, 772 or ninety-three per cent were Temporary, Territorial or Special Reserve. War Office, Statistics of the military effort, pp. 234–5. Tne Dest account of officers during the First World War is Keith, Simpson, ‘The officers’ in Beckett, Ian F. W. and Simpson, Keith (eds.), A nation in arms (Manchester, 1985), pp. 6396.

33 Mumford, Alfred A., The Manchester Grammar School (London, 1919), pp. 548–50. Simkins, Peter provides evidence to show that many other smaller public schools and grammar schools had a similar fate: Kitchener's army. The raising of the New Armies, 1914–1916 (Manchester, 1988), pp. 221–3. See also Basil, Williams, Raising and training the New Armies (London, 1918), pp. 63–7; Simpson, , ‘The officers’, pp. 72–3.

34 Attlee, C. R., As it happened (London, 1954), p. 43. Cf. Col. Nicholson, W. N., Behind the lines (London, 1939), pp. 223–4; Lt. Col. Graham Seton Hutchison, quoted in Turner, , Gallant gentlemen, p. 286. See also Simpson, , ‘The officers’, p. 82.

35 Duff, Cooper, Old men forget (London, 1953), p. 66. Robert, Graves found a similarly broad social mix in the OCB platoon he trained at Oxford: Goodbye to all that (Harmondsworth, revised edn 1957), pp. 202–3.

36 Lt. Col. Boraston, J. H. (ed.), Sir Douglas Haig's despatches (2 vols. London, 1919), II, 348. For a similar list see John, Masefield, The war and the future (New York, 1918), pp. 88–9.

37 More personal details about Trotter can be found in the novel version, Sherriff, R. C. and Bartlett, V., Journey's end, a novel (London, 1930), pp. 98, 167–70.

38 War Office, Statistics of the military effort, pp. 707, 713. I would hence take issue with J. M. Winter's statement that ‘the War Office demobilization statistics make it possible to be fairly precise about the occupational structure of the officer corps’. Winter, J. M., The Great War and the British people (Cambridge, Mass. 1986), p. 83.

39 See for example Charles, Douie, Weary road, pp. 209–10; and Jack, Cummins, The landlord cometh (Brighton1, [1981]), p. 46.

40 P.R.O., War Office (WO) 162/14. The war office was unable to tell the ministry oflabour in July 1918 what proportion of officers had attended public school or university, P.R.O., LAB 2/1518/DRA 203/3. Individual service records which may have survived are not available to researchers: see Doron, Lamm, ‘British soldiers of the first world war: creation of a representative sample’, Historical Social Research, XIII, 4 (1988), 5598.

41 D'Aeth's classes A, B and C comprised manual workers; D the lower-middle class of ‘smaller shopkeeper and clerk’; E and F the middle and upper-middle classes; and G ‘the Rich’: D'Aeth, F. G., ‘Present tendencies of class differentiation’, The Sociological Review, III (10 1910), 270–1. For the significance of D'Aeth's model see Mark, Abrams, ‘Some measurements of social stratification in Britain’ in Jackson, J. A. (ed.), Social stratification (Cambridge, 1968), pp. 133–4; Waites, , Class society, pp. 77–8.

42 For a detailed breakdown of the groups see P.R.O., Board of Education (ED)47/4/013182/19. For the output of schools with OTCs during the latter part of the war see P.R.O., LAB 2/1518/DRA 203/3. For the sample used by the ministry oflabour to analyse those officers who sought civil liabilities assistance see P.R.O., LAB/2/1565CL195896/1917.

43 Spiers, , Army and society, pp. 711, esp. table 1.3, p. 8.

44 Interestingly enough, these proportions bear a very close resemblance to those derived from a classification of fathers' occupations of boys attending secondary schools on the grant list in England and Wales in 1913. See table 8.2 in Waites, , Class society, p. 269.

45 Otley, C. B., ‘The social origins of British army officers’, Sociological Review, XVIII (07 1970), 224–6.

46 Masterman, C. F. G., The condition of England (London, 1909), pp. 6485. See also A temporary gentleman in France, foreword by Capt. Dawson, A. J. (London, 1916), p. 181; Campbell, R. W., The mixed division (T.) (Toronto, n.d. [1916]), p. 179; Mottram, , Twentieth century, p. 72; and Carrington, Soldier, p. 161.

47 The exact origin of the phrase ‘temporary gentleman’ is obscure. It was defined in Brophy, John and Partridge, Eric, Songs and slang of the British soldier, 1914–1918, 3rd edn (London, 1931), p. 366, as ‘a civilian who became an officer, especially in the New Army’. Partridge added in a later work that it was a regular army pejorative colloquialism which was occasionally abbreviated as t.g. (or T.G.): ‘The term caused much justifiable resentment’, Partridge, , A dictionary of slang and unconventional English, 7th edn (New York, 1970), pp. 870–1.

48 Mottram, , Twentieth century, pp. 40–1.

49 Graves, , Goodbye to all that, p. 108. See also Harries-Jenkins, , Army in Victorian society, p. 97; Spiers, , Army and society, p. 25; Simpson, , ‘The officers’, pp. 67–8.

50 ‘An open letter’ in Nancy, Mitford (ed.), Noblesse oblige (London, 1956), p. 67.

51 Simpson, , ‘The officers’, p. 75. See also Ludovici, Anthony M., ‘Return of the veteran’. The Nineteenth Century and After, XCI (02 1922), 351; Sassoon, Siegfried, The complete memoirs of George Sherston (London, 1937), pp. 236–7; Wheatley, , Officer and temporary gentleman, p. 102.

52 Titles like A temporary gentleman in France and Officer and temporary gentleman (see above) turned back the original slur in this way. See also Carrington, , Soldier, pp. 160–1; Priestley, J. B., Margin released (London, 1962), p. 135; Lt. Col. Hutchison, Graham Seton, Footslogger (London, 1931), p. 174.

53 See Spiers, , Army and society, p. 167; Hugh, Cunningham, The Volunteer Force (London, 1975), pp. 5267; Peter, Dennis, The Territorial Army 1906–1940 (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1987), p. 25. Cunningham notes that in Scotland such officers were known as ‘grocer colonels’ (p. 61). Some might wish to trace this pattern back still further, to the attacks on the eighteenth-century militia officers who were not ‘gentlemen’. See Western, J. R., The English militia in the eighteenth century (London, 1965), pp. 306–32.

54 Some regular officers were still concerned about the lack of ‘sahibs’ and ‘gentlemen’ in their commands during this period. See respectively Crozier, F. P., A brass hat in no man's land (London, 1930), pp. 220–2 and Hanbury-Sparrow, A. A., The land-locked lake (London, n.d. [1932]), pp. 293–4. Hanbury-Sparrow wrote that by late 1917 ‘the supply of gentlemen was on the verge of exhaustion’ (p. 293). Cf. Simpson, , ‘The officers’, pp. 7685.

55 Harold, Owen and John, Bell (eds.), Wilfred Owen, collected letters (London, 1967), pp. 539, 563. 579.

56 Ernest, Raymond, The jesting army (London, 1930), forming book II of Once in England (London, 1932), p. 474.

57 Mitchison, , All change here (London, 1975), p. 147. In an embarrassed footnote, she added: ‘Temporary Gentlemen – who remembers that bit of class-slang?’. Cf. Wilfrid, Ewart, Scots Guard (London, 1934), p. 147.

58 Stuart, Cloete, A Victorian son, an autobiography (London, 1972), pp. 266–7. Cf. Wyndham, Lewis, Blasting and bombardiering (London, 1937), pp. 97–8, 120; Paul, Nash, Outline, an autobiography and other writings (London, 1949), pp. 207–8.

59 Read, , Contrary experience, p. 217.

60 Ex-Private X [pseud. Alfred Burrage], War is war (London, 1930), pp. 216–17. On the resentment created by ‘young upstarts’ (notably a grocer's assistant) from one village ‘coming out as officers, giving themselves airs and strutting about in public places in order to make their late comrades endure them’, see the fascinating collection of letters published under the title Green envelopes (London, 1929), p. 23.

61 Williams, , Raising and training, p. 101.

62 Cf. ‘Ultimus’ Magazine [‘D’ Company, 14th Officer Cadet Battalion, Catterick, Yorks], July 1918 to Jan. 1919. See also The Barncroft Magazine, The Blunderbus, The Gunner Cadet, The ‘O.P.’ The White Band and Wind-Up.

63 Campbell, R. W., John Brown (London, 1919), pp. 23, 32, 194, 244, 257. Campbell dedicated the book to the officers of the 51st and 52nd Divisions, ‘many of whom I had the great honour and pleasure to instruct in the rudiments of war’.

64 Turner, P. W. and Haigh, R. H., Not for glory (London, 1969), p. 80; Priestley, , Margin released, pp. 122–3. See also Harbottle, George, Civilian soldier 1914–1919 (Newcastle, n.d.), pp. 77–8.

65 Pound, , Lost generation, p. 85.

66 ‘The problem of the ex-ranker, by one of them’, The Ex-Service Man, 6 11 1918.

67 ‘This was wealth’ commented Charles Carrington of the £300 per annum he received in France: Carrington, Soldier, p. 76. Cf. Simpson, , ‘The Officers’, p. 77 and John, Ellis, Eye deep in hell (London, 1976), p. 147.

68 The Times, 23, 28 Dec. 1916, 11 Jan., 17 Feb., 5 Mar. 1917, 14 Jan. 1918; Constance Hope, , ‘Justice to officers' wives’, National Review, LXVIII (02 1917), 763–9; The Spectator, 16 June 1917; Army and Navy Gazette, 1 May, 26 June, 14 Aug., 20 Nov. 1915, 2 Sept., 9 Dec. 1916, 10 Mar. 1917; Parliamentary debates (Commons), 5th series, vol. XC, 19 Feb. 1917, C. 1004–5; vol. XCIII, 22 May 1917, C. 2107–8; vol. XCVIII, 18 Oct. 1917, C. 248; 8 Nov. 1917, C. 2340; vol. XCIX, 12 Nov. 1917, C. 33; 28 Nov. 1917, C. 2006; 17 Dec. 1917, C. 1625; vol. CI, 14 Jan. 1918, C. 21–2.

69 The Times, 14 Jan. 1918; P.R.O., CAB 27/21, Committee on Soldiers' and Sailors' Pay; P.R.O., Ministry of Pensions (PIN) 15/18 and PIN 15/912; P.R.O., LAB 2/1565/CL 195896/1917; Cmd. 39, Interim report of the advisory committee, military service (civil liabilities) grants to May 1918, (Parl. Papers, 1919, X).

70 P.R.O., LAB 2/1517/DRA 179/3. Keith Simpson suggests that such refusals by NCOs to accept commissions were based largely on the desire to stay with their unit, their lack of confidence about becoming a junior officer, and the calculation of a lower life expectancy: ‘The officers’, p. 83. Most contemporary references to this problem, however, stress the financial consideration as uppermost: for example, the unmarried Gilbert Hall found that becoming an officer had initially ‘involved him in a considerable financial sacrifice’, though in due course he managed to live comfortably on his pay. Turner, and Haigh, , Not for glory, pp. 82–3. See also The Times, 9 May 1918; Army and Navy Gazette, 1 May, 26June 1915, 2Sept. 1916, 10 Mar. 1917; Parliamentary debates (Commons), 5th series, vol. XC, 19 Feb. 1917, C. 1004–5; PRO., CAB 27/21, Committee on Soldiers' and Sailors' Pay.

71 See letters headed ‘The future of ex-officers’ in The Times, 21, 24 Apr. 1917.

72 ‘Second interim report of the resettlement of officers' committee’ (W.O. Paper 122/73) in P.R.O., LAB 2/1517/DRA 152/3. The report was submitted in early 1918, after the war cabinet had given its approval in principle to its major proposals on 15 November 1917. See P.R.O., CAB 23/4/WC 274.

73 Draft memo on appointments department in P.R.O., LAB 2/1499/AD 262/1923; LAB 2/I5I7/DRA 135; LAB 2/1565/Civil Liabilities file marked ‘Spare Copies’; McCall's ‘Personal note from Controller to staff’, Nov. 1918 in P.R.O., LAB 2/1517/DRA/135; note on ‘Education and training of officers after demobilisation’ by E. K. Chambers, board of education, for the officers' resettlement committee [1917] in P.R.O., LAB 2/1514/DRA 100/9 Part i. For other examples of McCall's views see P.R.O., LAB 2/1514 DRA 100 and DRA 100/9 part i. LAB 2/1515/DRA 116/10; and his articles on ‘The training and employment of ex-officers’ in The Ex-Service Man, 20 Nov. 1918, 9 Jan. 1919.

74 See reports of district directors and McCall's covering memo of 28 Aug. 1918 in P.R.O., LAB 2/1515/DRA 116/10.

75 P.R.O., LAB 2/1515/DRA 116/9. See also LAB 2/1515/DRA/16/16 and LAB 2/1518/DRA 203/3.

76 The non-compassionate nature of the Training Grants Scheme was underlined repeatedly, for example before the select committee on pensions: see HC 247, S.C. on pensions (Parl. Papers, 1919, VI), minutes of evidence 4 Nov. 1919, p. 438. The quotation here comes from Cmd. 2481, Report of the ministry of labour for the years 1923 and 1924 (Parl. Papers, 1924–25, XIV), p. 209. The appointments department document of Feb. 1919 is in P.R.O., LAB 2/1502/DRAY 87.

77 The Ex-Service Man, 18 Dec. 1918, article on the ‘Ex-ranker problem’; Ranold Frost, ‘Ex-officers and the future’, The Athenaeum, no. 4635 (Nov. 1918), pp. 467–8. See also Moseley, , ‘The problem of the ex-officer’, p. 293; Artists' Rifles Journal, II (Nov. 1918), 139; Report of first annual meeting of the Ex-Officers' Employment Bureau cited in the Morning Post, 3 June 1919; Sir Douglas Haig's letter to the war office of 26 Nov. 1918 in P.R.O., CAB 24/71/GT 6431.

78 ‘Resettlement of officers’, copy in P.R.O., RECO 1/88. To drive the point home, a number of examples were provided of the disparities between officers' salaries and those of the pre-war university graduate in various professions. The pamphlet was on sale in almost every bookstall, and was often cited in discussions of ex-officer questions (see, for example, P.R.O., ED 47/10 and HC 247, S.C. on pensions, (Parl. Papers, 1919, VI), minutes of evidence for Brigadier A. Asquith, 4 Nov. 1919).

79 The following discussion is based on P.R.O., CAB 23/9/WC 514; CAB 24/73/GT 6612; CAB 33/19 and 20; LAB 2/1517/DRA 150; and LAB 2/1518/DRA 203/19. For background to the Training Grants Scheme and Civil Liabilities, see Cmd. 2481, pp. 208–24; P.R.O., LAB 2/1566/C.L. 12591/1920.

80 The use by the ministries responsible of terms such as ‘men of like standing’ and ‘men of similar educational qualifications’ to describe eligible rankers, touched off a parliamentary debate on this very question. See Parliamentary debates (Commons), 5th series, vol. CXII, 27 f. 1919, C. 2035–42.

81 P.R.O., PIN 15/918/G/GEN/2002; Parliamentary debates (Commons), 5th series, vol. CXII, 14 Feb. 1919, C. 453–60.

82 P.R.O., LAB 2/1517/DRA 179/3, esP. R. A.Johnson's minute of 1 Aug. 1919. The Ex-Officers' National Union campaigned unsuccessfully for officers to be given half-pay until they found employment. See The Ex-Serince Man, 16 Aug., 1 Nov. 1919; Army and Navy Gazette, 2 Aug. 1919.

83 P.R.O., LAB 2/1502/DRAY 72; LAB 2/1518/DRA 203/35; ED 47/4; ED 47/16. For the appointments department memo of 14 April 1920 and the concerns about trainees, see P.R.O., LAB 2/1512/AD 3147/1920. See also the The Times, 14 Nov. 1919, 10 Apr., 23 Apr., 5 Aug. 1920; The Ex-Service Man, 15 Nov., 16 Dec. 1919, 3 Apr. 1920; Army and Navy Gazette, 29 Nov. 1919; Owen, , Journey from obscurity, p. 234. I shall be treating the subject of ex-officers' educational training at greater length elsewhere.

84 P.R.O., LAB 2/1499/AD262/1923. For comments of the appointments department's director for the London district (DD 10) on the profile of candidates on his register, see P.R.O., LAB 2/1508/AD 233/4/1902 and LAB 2/1511/AD 2885/1920. See also The Times, 5 Nov. 1919; DSS Bulletin, 5 Feb. 1920; Winter, D., Death's men, pp. 241–3.

85 P.R.O., LAB 2/1499/AD262/1923.

86 A. H. Chovil to H. J. Wilson, 10 Feb. 1923 in P.R.O., LAB 2/1513/AD 108/1923. Cf. Cmd. 2481, Report of the ministry of labour, (Parl. Papers, 1924–25, XIV), p. 213; The Artists' Rifles Journal, III (March 1920); The Ex-Service Man, 3 Apr. 1920; British Legion Journal, II (Sept. 1922).

* I wish to thank McGill University and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for their support of the research for this article.

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The Historical Journal
  • ISSN: 0018-246X
  • EISSN: 1469-5103
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