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‘A Sheffield Hero’: The local impact of war disability  in the case of Sergeant Arnold Loosemore, VC

The Men, Women and Care Project Team, University of Leeds

Jessica Meyer is University Academic Fellow in Legacies of War at the University of Leeds.  She has published extensively on the histories masculinity, disability, and popular fiction in the era of the First World War in Britain. She is currently completing a monograph on military medical caregiving during the First World War for OUP, and leads the European Research Council-funded Men, Women and Care project, which explores the provision of care to disabled ex-servicemen by the State, charities and the family after the war.

On 20th May 1919, Sergeant Arnold Loosemore, a former machine gunner in the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) regiment, was presented with the Distinguished Conduct Medal by King George V in the Sanctuary of the Victoria Hall in Sheffield.  Loosemore already the held the Victoria Cross and, just over a year later, would march with fellow holders 1.3 miles from Wellington Barracks to Buckingham Palace to attend a garden party in their honour.  On both occasions, Loosemore was on crutches, having lost his left leg and seriously wounded his right in action at Viller-en-Cauchies in October 1918.

Loosemore spent eighteen months in various hospitals, after which he returned to his home town of Sheffield, where he married and had a son, before dying of war-attributable TB in 1924.  Throughout these four years, he was a highly visible presence in his local community, culminating in a military funeral where thousands lined the route of the cortege.  

This paper will use the case study of Arnold Loosemore’s final years to re-examine arguments about the impact of war disability on post-war British society.  In particular, it will examine the local and domestic communities to which disabled ex-servicemen returned.  Using pensions records and family papers, this paper will locate Loosemore in both Ecclesall and the home he shared with his wife Amy to argue that only by understanding the local and domestic impact of war disability can we fully understand the social and political legacy of war disability in Britain."