A report from the Oldham Standard, 25 Nov 1916; 21 Dec 1916. Blog post from Oldham Local Studies and Archives.
Ex-Soldier’s Arrears: Blown Out of Shell Crater
In December 1916 John Lawless appeared before the Oldham Police Court charged with being £93 in arrears under a separation order granted to his wife Hannah. The order made on John Lawless was for the payment of 15s a week which had been granted to his wife in April 1911.
Lawless looked ill, and did not seem to have much life about him, all the time resting against the rails and with his hands to his face most of the time. Apparently deaf, the questions put to him had to be loudly reiterated by a police officer.
John Lawless had married Hannah Frost at St Mark’s Heyside in 1906. They had three children, Elsie May born in 1907, William Addison born in 1909 but who died in 1910 and Olive Beatrice born in 1911.
The Chief Constable stated that the man had been in the army, and had got a pension and was keeping another woman. This woman was a weaver earning 18s a week. She also had a boy, a half-timer earning 7s a week.
When asked if he would pay 10s a week the prisoner replied that he would try to pay 5s a week. The man’s wife who worked as weaver said that 5s was nothing. Eventually John Lawless reluctantly undertook to pay 10s a week, being told that the alternative would be three months imprisonment.
During the trial it turned out that John Lawless had joined the army in another name so that efforts to trace him sooner had failed. He was later discharged unfit as a consequence of an experience in a shell crater out of which he was blown, and was in receipt of a pension of 25s.
Oldham Standard, 25 Nov 1916; 21 Dec 1916