HC Deb 19 July 1915 vol 73 cc1170-1

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he is aware that men who volunteered and joined the Royal Army Medical Corps are being subjected to pressure to transfer to fighting regiments; that in some cases the men are paraded and asked to fall out as evidence of their willingness to transfer; and that men who did not fall out have been transferred; and will he say if the members of the Royal Army Medical Corps will in future be left free to remain in the corps for which they volunteered, especially as there are among this corps many members of the Society of Friends, who have conscientious objections to joining the combatant regiments?

82. Major HUNT

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether it is intended to continue the practice of compelling men enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps, a non-combatant branch of the Army, to transfer to Infantry or other combatant branches of the Army; and whether the reason for this compulsion is or was that sufficient combatant soldiers could not be obtained under our voluntary system?


I have already explained, in reply to the hon. Member for West Bradford, that men who have conscientious objections to taking life will be specially dealt with. As regards others, I would point out that Parliament has deliberately conferred on the Army Council certain powers, and, as I have also stated, I cannot give any pledge that these powers will not be used, though I can certainly assure my hon. Friend that they will be used with discrimination.


Are we to conclude that if these young men, who have, against their will, been transferred from the Royal Army Medical Corps to a fighting regiment, make a petition, they will be permitted to return to their old regiment?


I think my hon. Friend is rather jumping to conclusions—[Mr. SNOWDEN: "I am not!"]—when making that suggestion. What I have said was that the cases of men so transferred will be considered. I cannot, of course, give a pledge that in all cases they will be reinstated in their original corps, but I hope the great bulk of them may be.

Colonel WHITE

With regard to these men, members of the Society of Friends, who have conscientious objections to taking life, will he consider attaching them to regiments as regimental stretcher-bearers, thereby relieving men trained to the use of arms for other duties, and thus prevent any stigma being placed upon them?


I am obliged to the hon. and gallant Member for the suggestion.


asked whether, in consequence of the War, a large number of Royal Army Medical Corps lieutenant-colonels have been promoted to colonels and similarly a large number of majors have been made lieutenant-colonels; whether all lieutenants have been made captains; and why no captians have also received accelerated promotion?


A number of captains have received accelerated promotion and further promotions will be made when the necessity arises. The names of several have been recently submitted for gazette.