|4568 Pte. W. Cawthorne, 18th Hussars.
Queen’s South Africa Medal clasps Talana, Defence of Ladysmith.
Wounded in action Ladysmith 20 November 1899
With a CD-ROM containing 133 pages of pension
invalidity papers. Walter Gerald Cawthorne
enlisted as number 3147 in 1st Dragoons 28
February 1889 aged 20 years 10 months.
Discharged by purchase (£18) at Colchester 15
January 1891. Conduct good. Re-enlisted as
number 3685 in 17th Lancers at London 24 June
1892 aged 21 years 2 months, transferring with
number 4568 to 18th Hussars 20 November
1895. Born Rainham, Norfolk. Occupation
Between 1889 and 1900 had 21 entries in the
defaulter book for various offences including
three charges of desertion resulting in courts
martial. Charged with desertion after absenting
himself from 22 August 1892 until apprehended
by the civil power 5 October 1892 and with
losing by neglect many items of kit. Convicted of
absence without leave but not desertion at
Hounslow 15 October 1892 and imprisoned for
28 days with hard labour with pay stoppages to
cover loss of kit.
Charged with desertion immediately after release 11 November 1892 until apprehended 8
March 1893 and being deficient of two items of clothing. Convicted of desertion at
Hounslow 18 March 1893 and imprisoned for 112 days with hard labour with pay stoppages
for loss of clothing. Convicted of desertion at Hounslow 18 March 1893 and imprisoned for
112 days with hard labour with pay stoppages for loss of clothing.
Charged with desertion at Leeds 18 March 1895 until apprehended at Hull 1 May 1896 and
being deficient of various items of equipment. Convicted of desertion at York 14 May 1896
and imprisoned for 6 months with hard labour with pay stoppages to cover loss of equipment.
Hit by a bursting shell 20 November 1899 and wounded in lumbar region, left thigh, right
cheek, left wrist and left fingers and thumb.
Admitted to 24th Brigade Field Hospital and transferred to Intombi Camp Hospital 1
December and to other hospitals from 10 December. Discharged medically unfit for further
service at Canterbury 18 December 1900. Conduct latterly good. A medical report in
November 1901 stated that his wounds had healed but he had partial paralysis of both legs,
paralysis of the bladder and suffered from fits. He also had a weakness in his back and pain
on movement. His disability was assessed as total.
Convicted at Bow Street Magistrates Court of assault in February 1902 and sentenced to
21 days imprisonment with hard labour. A medical report in August 1920 additionally stated
that he was totally blind in the right eye. His degree of disability was assessed at 80%. A
further medical report in December 1920 specified that his 80% disability was made up of
40% for his eye problems and 40% for the effects of his wounds. A medical report in
November 1921 confirmed his disability at 80% but stated that 50% was due to his eye
problems and 30% due to his wounds. Despite stating that he suffered from swollen ankles,
giddiness, incontinence and that he was unable to straighten his back, a further medical
report in May 1923 reduced his degree of disability for the effects of his wounds to
1%-5% but confirmed a 60% disability for his eye condition.
The Ministry of Pensions challenged his eligibility for a pension award for his eye condition
as there was no evidence that this was caused by wounds or injury on service. An eye
specialist stated that his defective vision was not caused wholly and directly due to his
wounds but that his right eye cataract probably began as a result. This assessment was at
first accepted by the pension authorities but then rejected very soon afterwards.
Fortunately for Cawthorne his pension overpayment of £194/7/9d between April 1919 and
July 1923 was written off as he was completely unaware of his ineligibility. Served as
Hospital Orderly at No. 8 (Baltic & Corn Exchange) Red Cross Hospital in Calais 9 January
to 10 December 1918. Died of uraemia and chronic nephritis at Southend Municipal Hospital
22 November 1946 aged 79.