Armed Forces Covenant

Part of Bombardier – in the House of Commons at 1:21 pm on 22nd November 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee 1:21 pm, 22nd November 2018

My excellent friend, for that is what he is—he is another pillar of strength to me on the Defence Committee—will be glad to know that among the examples I intend to quote are several widows who lost a husband serving in the Ulster Defence Regiment and who are in precisely that anomalous position.

This is what happened in the case of Linda, whose husband John was murdered by the IRA in May 1973:

“He died instantly as a boobytrap bomb exploded underneath him. We were stationed in Germany at the time of John’s deployment. Within two days of his death my three month old son and I were put on a flight back to England, leaving behind our life, home and friends to face an uncertain future. With my mum’s help and support I was eventually able to move into a small home of my own and begin to rebuild my life. This is where I received my first ‘inspection’.

In the early 70s War Widows were visited by inspectors to ensure they were not living with another man whilst in receipt of their compensation pension. I felt degraded by this. Life was lonely as a young women with a baby and over time I missed the family life I so tragically had taken from me. I missed my son having a father, I missed the closeness and friendship of a husband.

After years alone I was blessed with a second chance of happiness but felt saddened that my pension would be withdrawn on remarriage as this was a tangible link to John and our previous life together. I also felt this action demeaned John’s sacrifice and that somehow I was no longer a War Widow. However, I had a choice to make and I chose to be part of a loving family again with the security and warmth that it would bring my son and I.

When going through the process of having my pension revoked I spoke to many officials and was insulted when one of them told me ‘not to worry, another man will now look after you.’
Once more I felt let down as I would have to start my new relationship not as an equal but financially dependent on my new husband.

As was stated in 2015 this was a choice that should not have been forced on War Widows. I was personally heartbroken when I was told that pension changes in 2015 had left me behind. The utter disbelief that the government didn’t really mean ALL War Widows would now have their pensions for life was unbearable. These changes made me feel like a second class War Widow and I have now been made to relive the pain and grief of 1973 every day. I cannot and will not accept that John’s sacrifice is less worthy than others.”