I keep receiving all manner of reports of cruelty to wives and families, they are all different, and obviously tailored for the most benefit to the airman. Unfortunately so often the victim is so frightened even when she has lost her children that she is more than reluctant to make contact with me, in case her children are harmed.
A senior non-commissioned officer nearly at retirement age was nearing the conclusion of divorce proceedings, when the new Law on pensions was broadcast. He then finished with his younger mistress, stopped the divorce and returned to his wife, to whom he was very blunt, stating that the alternative would have been too expensive, he had too much to lose.
While in conversation with a civilian woman, she told me about a young friend who married a RAF man, and was posted abroad with two infants. Her life became so restricted with no support; her husband spent all his free time drinking in the Mess, that she could not bear to continue. She decided to return to England, but not to her parents, guessing that she would be too easy to find, but to her welcoming friend. However, her sanctuary was short-lived because the Military Police tracked her to the house and ordered her to return to her husband with her children.
Recently a group of airman's wives were reported on television to be in danger of being homeless and destitute, the local authorities do not have any accommodation for the families, and they are in such desperation that one Mother tried to commit suicide. Whether she succeeded was unclear but it is not uncommon. After the years of abuse by their husbands, and the military, they are in a situation that has become too much to bear, for women who have given everything, they end up with nothing.
Two professional women with whom I have come into contact are amazed that military wives are so compliant, and protest that they would not be treated that way, " they would not stand for it". They are very lucky that they are so much younger and therefore the recipients of all the progress that their foremothers have won for them. They have so little imagination as to dismiss the very real facts of first and foremost the `Pill` that gave women control over their fertility, plus the Abortion Act and divorce law modernisation. Not having any children themselves, they cannot visualise putting another persons interests before their own, that fact alone makes Mothers extremely vulnerable, especially to military officers, who take the utmost advantage with impunity. In fact the apathy and lack of respect of young women towards their elders and betters could, if taken far enough, backfire on all women. Plus not only halt liberation but regress the progress, that has been so expensively won, in terms of years of suffering, that is still having repercussions.
If the young civilian women of today, the `Me` generation were suffering the same discrimination as their foremothers, they would never have joined the Liberation Movement because they are far too selfish. They have been given so much that they never try to help other women, and believe that only clones of themselves have rights. Military wives have made a huge contribution to the defence of this country, without them the military would fall apart, because the wives run the stations, and there would be no upkeep of morale. We are the people who give the military the respectability of the decency of stable family, albeit under almost impossible conditions, to civilise their brutalised partners.
Naturally I am fully aware that the British military are considered to be the finest fighting force in the world, especially by themselves, and the British media who never fail to push favourable propaganda to the limit when any criticism should find the military at fault. The reality is that it is akin to a very successful secret sect, all the more dangerous because it is better protected by the rest of the Establishment. The often quoted adage; `Secrecy opens the door to Malpractice` has never been more fitting than when applied to the military Sect.
This is the Ministry of Defecnce's reply on the subject of pensions for military divorcees:
Ministry of Defence
Adastral House Theobolds Road London WC1X 8RU
Telephone (Direct Dialling) 01-430
(Switchboard) 01-430 5555
Mrs E North
Date 9 February 1988
Dear Mrs North
Thank you for your letter of 25 January, addressed to the Minister of State for the Armed Forces which has been passed to me for reply.
I regret that there is no provision in the Armed Forces Pension Scheme for any compensation to a divorced wife of a Royal Air Force Officer; any award of pension would on his death be to an eligible legal widow.
In cases of divorce it is usual however for the loss of these pension rights to be taken into account in the financial settlement which follows. Any complaint you may have in this area therefore is one for your solicitor to resolve.
Turning to your other points, it has always been accepted that wives play an important part in their husband`s career and service in the Armed Forces. This is a normal feature of service life and, to a large extent, consists of the mutual support one would expect between families having common interests and living in a closely inter-dependent environment. Service wives are not, however, as a result of this, employees either of the Royal Air Force or the Ministry of Defence and there are no arrangements to make payment for their contribution.
I am unable to comment on the services provided by the RAF Benevolent Fund as this is a voluntary organisation and any awards made are confidential to the recipients. They do of course assist all RAF personnel and their families in cases of need wherever possible and I am sure your work on their behalf was appreciated.
I am sorry that this will be a disappointing reply.
There was no printed name to end the letter, only an illegible scrawl of a signature naturally in this corrupt and exploitative system which fully expects wives to comply. It has the best and possibly only way to make a female into a slave, by threatening to take her children, so that she never communicates or sees her children again.
To state that the solicitor will resolve any complaint the wife may have in respect of the financial settlement is dishonesty in the highest degree, when they know full well that in the prearranged set up the solicitor is acting for the MOD and the officer husband.
With regard to the payments made to recipients from the RAF Benevolent Fund, SSAFA, which is the Soldiers Sailors and Air Force Association, plus all the other funds from various service charities too numerous to mention, of course they are confidential. To protect the main beneficiaries, the senior officers, who relish their bonanza while they are serving, and seem to believe it is their right to have another supplement to their pension, mainly earned by their wives, when they retire.
Even the Poppy Appeal is another great opportunity, supposedly for injured `other rank` personnel to run the special homes and provide work for the disabled. In reality it is another `Scam` for some senior officers to have a house and job provided to supplement their pension, while supervising the running of the centre. The wives of the officers are once again burdened with most of the work and responsibility as usual, while the retired officer is very practised in skiving, but takes all the credit.
Eventually, as so often happens, the officer is nominated for a gong at Buckingham Palace, he gets the medal, while his wife is left with only a hat and the permanent smile. Little wonder that the `D` notice and threats of a jail sentence silence journalists and the rest of the media, there is so much to lose by disclosure.
This is the letter from the producer at the BBC that shows how officers' wives are anxious not to be named.
BBC COMMUNITY PROGRAMME UNIT.
39 Wales Farm Road, London W3 6UP Telephone 01 743 8000 Ext 3500 Telex 265 781.
29 September 1989.
I wanted to write to you to say how sorry I was to have to tell you that we can`t do the programme at the moment and express my commitment to your idea of making this programme about RAF wives.
It is Tony's belief that it would be better for this programme to be transmitted after the 6 part series on army wives which goes out in December. I don't necessarily agree with him but I would like your programme to be received in the best possible juncture, time-wise. It may well be a better slot if it did come after this series.
We are currently waiting to see the video cassettes of the army wives programmes before they go out so we will know at the earliest possible time what exactly is in these programmes.
I saw Tony today and stressed one of the main differences between army and RAF wives- ie the idea in the Army of the whole regiment moving together unlike the RAF situation in which women find themselves - the tremendous isolation and lack of contact for help and support. He did understand this and I know he is keen for your idea to go ahead
Again I am really sorry we had to disappoint you at this stage as I do understand your investment in getting this `stuff` on the air.
I wanted to tell you that at least 50 women rang, in rank and officer`s wives. The officers wives almost unanimously asked to remain anonymous - understandable of course. The women who are prepared to take part are prepared to do so because their husbands are P.V. Ring. We`ve also had at least 10 letters - some of which were really strong.
I am still hopeful that we will get this programme on the air. The response we`ve had is the proof that we have a strong programme which should open people`s eyes.
If you want to contact me at work please don`t hesitate.