Seaman awarded war pension after 24 years

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

A MERCHANT seaman who developed an anxiety disorder after the ships on which he was serving came under bomb and torpedo attack in the Second World War yesterday won his legal battle against a 24-year-old decision not to allow him a war pension.

Marcel Brahan, 66, of Abridge, Essex, joined the merchant navy in 1941. He was in 'A1' condition, although he had been treated for the nervous condition St Vitus' dance, said Mr Justice Drake at the High Court in London.

In 1942 he was serving on the Viceroy of India when it was torpedoed. By the end of the war, Mr Brahan had served on five other ships on the Malta convoys and had come under bomb attack at Bari and Taranto. He was discharged from the navy in 1946 as unfit for service on account of psychoneurosis.

Mr Brahan, who already receives a pension for hearing loss suffered while under fire, said that his war-time experiences caused his nervous condition and so entitled him to a pension under the 1964 Mercantile Marine Scheme.

His claim was rejected by the Ministry of Social Security in 1967 on the grounds that his disability was not directly attributable to a war injury within the scheme. An appeal was also unsuccessful.

But Mr Justice Drake ruled that Mr Brahan's experiences did cause his condition and qualified him for a pension.

The judge said the pensions tribunal had used the wrong legal approach by adhering to the medical opinion that psychoneurosis arose from a personality disorder which, if it pre-dated service in the forces, could not qualify a victim of war trauma for a pension.