When service personnel left the armed forces after the end of the Second World War they were paid a cash lump sum based on their time in service to the crown. This was made up of two parts, a ‘Post War Credit’ and a ‘War Gratuity’ and the sums involved could be quite substantial. This document came as part of a wider grouping of paperwork to a private in the Royal Army Service Corps and details what he is entitled to receive:From this document we can see he has received £32 of War Gratuity and £41 1s of post war credit giving him a total of £71 1s on demob. The Times on February 7th 1945 had explained what War Gratuities a soldier could expect:
War Gratuity on the scale set out below will be granted to officers and men who have had at least six months’ approved war service and who are released or honourably discharged from the forces. The gratuity will be assessed on the total period or periods of war service in the forces, on full service pay, from September 3, 1939, up to the date of release form a dispersal centre (or from a unit, &c., for those who do not pass through dispersal centres.
Periods of unmobilised service in the reserves and other periods without service pay, and service which has been forfeited and not restored, will not count.
The basic rate of gratuity for ratings and other ranks will be 10s., and for the lowest rank of officer 25s., for each complete month of service as above. Officers and men who have held paid rank above the lowest will qualify for higher rates of gratuity, based upon the substantive or war substantive rank held at the day of release, or, if more favourable, upon the highest paid rank held during the war for a period or periods amounting to not less than six months in all. Where service has been given both in the ranks and as an officer, the gratuity will be calculated separately for each period of service.
The Post War Credit was slightly different as The Times on February 11th 1942 reported:
Sixpence a day is to be set aside as a post-war credit and the sum due under this arrangement will be paid over when the person concerned leaves the service without prejudice to any war gratuity which may be granted when hostilities end.
Then followed lots of form filling, a medical (still A1!), a kit inspection and I was bundled off back to Catterick Camp, arriving a few days before Christmas and prepared to go AWOL if my demob. was not cleared in time for Christmas at home. It was – just, and after collecting my demob. outfit from a depot in York I left the Army with 4 weeks’ leave pay and a demob. gratuity of around £100, which I shortly blew on an Army surplus Royal Enfield 350cc DR’s motorbike and a well-tailored bespoke suit.
The spending habits of this man are typical, many were to regret later in life not buying a house with the sum of money as many could easily have afforded one, but as my Grandfather told us ‘men like us didn’t own houses in those days’ so it never crossed his mind.