This is an entry in a year-long project to post-blog the demobilisation experience for British servicemen at the end of the Second World War. See here for an introduction to the project and here for a brief overview of the demobilisation process.
Picture Post features a series of letters on the problems of the demobilized older ex-officer. "Excluding war service, I have 21 years normal business experience," writes one:
[Since I was demobbed] all I have achieved has been the offer of a minor clerical job at five pounds per week, less deductions. At that figure I began my business career some 26 years ago. I have written some 50-odd letters during the past ten weeks, in answer to advertisements, and have had but three replies.
So what? Go overseas? Migrate? Certainly - provided I can take my wife and son with me, and provided there is permanent employment there when I arrive, for at my apparently dead-beat age (a mere 42) any other sort of overseas employment is plainly futile. Rejoin the services? Yes - if a permanent commission was offered it would be worthwhile but the age-limit prevents that. Well - what about domestic service? Even that has been considered as in certain cases it offers a home of one's own, but neither my wife nor myself has references covering 'ability at domestic service.'
This, then, is one picture of many hundreds of the 'too old at forty' brigade, somewhat disgusted, and daily growing just a little more frustrated and bitter.
But another reader introduces a note of dissent:
In the Army an officer can very often get by on what his underlings know - not that the average officer is required to know a lot when you get down to brass tacks. No wonder, then, that many ex-officer are finding civilian life hard to face. May I suggest that these gentlemen swallow their pride and come down to earth a bit ... personally I am not the least perturbed at the prospect of my long-awaited release. I know that whatever happens I cannot sink any lower than I have these four years. I know that I shall have my self-respect and that no-one is going to look at me or speak to me in the way I have bene looked at and spoken to by innumerable officers in those four years, without getting a punch on the nose ...