Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League To The Rescue Of Blind Veterans And Widows

By EX-WOI Bright Segbefia:

Some people have wondered why Britain, our colonial master, should not have any obligations towards the surviving pre-independence veterans for their sacrifices during the 1st & 2nd World Wars. The argument has been that in view of their sterling role in these wars, the wellbeing of these veterans and their wives should concern Britain.

However, in the discharge book of some of these veterans, it is stated that they had been paid all their entitlements totaling $25.10 with a statement: ‘No further money owing to this man.’ This amount covered Leave Pay, Leave Ration Allowance, War gratuity, and Overseas Allowance.

The Royal Commonwealth Ex-Service League (RCEL) has, nonetheless, instituted a fund to cushion the surviving veterans, who are either partially or completely blind. RCEL also have for the widows an annual grant, 50% of what the men receive yearly. It is only the first widow who qualifies. But where the late veteran had more than one wife, it is still the first one whose name should be presented to VAG for the grant, even if the marriage was in line with the veteran’s religion.

Capt Gill presents RCEL grant to a blind veteran, Bordoh, as his daughter and a military officer hold his had to receive the money,So far, it is only one veteran, Pte Bordoh, who has benefitted from the fund twice with a total sum of $700, subject to renewal through VAG. On the occasion of the 71st anniversary of the Myohaung Battle at the Second Battalion of Infantry in Takoradi, the Controller of Welfare of RCEL, Capt Lance Gill, who had arrived in the country the previous day from Cameroun through Nigeria, presented the Cedi equivalent of the money, received earlier by VAG, to Pte Bordoh.

VAG, therefore, asked its Regional Officers to get down to the District Officers to locate for such members. Even after the name is submitted to the VAG Headquarters, the Acting Public Relations Officer (A/PRO) follows it up to ascertain the claim of the said veteran as having partaken in the war in Burma. This is because sometimes, the claim turned out to be incorrect, as the claimants were deployed in Africa as part of allied forces. Though technically they are War veterans, the qualification is that one must have been to Burma.

Ex Pte Nayrko sitting in his roomOn 4 February, 2016, The Veteran, interviewed 92-year-old GC 58131, Pte Gideon Kwame Nyarko, at his house at Agona Duakwa, near Swedru in Agona East of the Central Region. In the presence of his second child, Agnes Nyarko and Gomoa West District VAG Chairman, Ex WOI James Oscar Sakyi, Pte Nyarko spoke of his pre-military, military, war, and post-military life. He joined the military in Kumasi in 1943.

After demobilisation, he worked as a driver in a timber company in Sunyani. Completely blind since 1985 and room-bound, he lost his wife, Esi Anowah, over a decade ago. None of their eight children (four dead) had gone past erstwhile Middle School.

He said he had nothing to show of the military service. He, nonetheless, commended former President Jerry John Rawlings for making it possible for them to be in receipt of pension. His daughter said though she would have been happier if her father had acquired some property from the military, she was happy for the pension being received, as it offered them a big relief.

From right- Ex Pte Nyarko, his daughter Agnes, Gomoa West District Chairman Ex WOI Sakyi, and APRO Ex WOI segbefiaPte Nyarko, who lives in a family house put up by his late father for his nine children, appealed for an increase in their pension, describing it as inadequate. It came to light that Pte Nyarko was not registered with VAG, but Ghana Government Pensioners’ Association (GGPA). His daughter attends meeting on his behalf.

Ex WOI Sakyi could not understand why some veterans were still out of the fold of VAG despite the extensive publicity. He said he chanced upon Ex Pte Nyarko on his rounds in the area which comes under him administratively because the number of Ex Service men there was not enough to form a district. He lamented that recently an Ex Service man died in the area but, VAG could not provide the necessary assistance because he was not a member. He appealed to those veterans still under GGPA to join VAG.

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