HC Deb 21 October 1915 vol 74 cc1983-6

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that during the Zeppelin attack on 13th October many motor cars with powerful lamps were observed in the main streets on the line of attack; and whether he will give strict orders to the police, and see that they are enforced under heavy penalties, against the use of such lamps on any vehicle, no matter who the occupant may be?


No headlights are permitted (save in the case of certain military and naval cars on urgent duty) and other motor lights must be of small power, which in practice means they must not throw a beam of more than thirty yards. These regulations are enforced with all possible strictness, and their general observance by the public is of great importance.

28. Mr. BRYCE

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that the brilliantly lighted trains on the Inner Circle have no blinds, that these trains travel in the open air for some distance at various places in the south-west and west of London so as to be visible from above; and whether he will take steps to ensure that the trains are darkened during transit in the open?


The regulation of the lighting and running of trains in the Metropolitan area, in view of Zeppelin attack, is carried out under the advice of the Admiralty, and is based on actual observation made from time to time from the air. The trains referred to are being so dealt with.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether it has been found possible to take advantage of the presence at home of trained Artillery officers who have returned from the front wounded or otherwise invalided, but capable of rendering effective service in connection with the anti-aircraft defence of London, or whether the working of the defensive guns is entrusted only to the corps of anti-aircraft gunners, many of whom cannot have the same experience in the use of artillery?

The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Balfour)

My hon. Friend's suggestion will receive consideration.

33. Mr. BRYCE

asked whether, in the event of the passage within range of hostile aircraft over an area or place where they can be more easily reached by military than by naval gunfire, or where no naval gunfire is available, the military authorities have permission to fire?


The answer is in the affirmative.

34. Mr. BRYCE

asked how many of our aeroplanes were aloft at the time when the Zeppelins first appeared over London on the evening of Wednesday, 13th October; and, if only three aeroplanes were aloft at some time during the attack, whether the authorities consider that three aeroplanes are an adequate defence against as many or more Zeppelins?


The degree to which it is desirable to use aeroplanes for night defences against Zeppelins is a very difficult one, and it cannot be properly dealt with in answer to a question. But under no circumstances do the authorities consider that an adequate defence against night attacks by Zeppelins can be provided by aeroplanes. As regards the action of aeroplanes on Wednesday, the 13th, the weather conditions in London rendered it impossible for any large number to go up.


Can the right hon. Gentleman state for how many hours the Zeppelins were over London and district?


No, Sir, I am afraid not, but I can easily answer that if the hon. Member will give notice. They were not over London for any considerable length of time.


Was it not the case that they were over London between nine and ten o'clock and came back about twelve o'clock at night?


I should like notice of that question. There was one over a certain district late at night, but whether it was one of the Zeppelins that went over London earlier in the evening I am not quite sure. If the hon. Gentleman is interested in the question I can give him all the information at the disposal of the Admiralty.


Is there any truth in the report that six Zeppelins were flying over Harwich at two o'clock the same day?


I think that is an invention.


As to the state of the weather, is it not in the recollection of the right hon. Gentleman that on Wednesday, the 13th, the sky was perfectly clear?


I do not think so. There were no clouds high overhead, but it was not clear down close to the ground.

36. Mr. BRYCE

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether Admiral Sir Percy Scott still employs in the service of the defence of London against air attacks volunteers with intermittent attendance, of whom that service was until lately mainly composed; if so, what rates of pay do they receive; or whether the service is now manned by men properly trained in the use of guns and searchlights?


There has been no change in the personnel. The guns' crews work for twenty-four hours every other day, and are paid 4s. 2d. per day, finding their own food and lodging. The searchlight crews work from dark to daylight every other night, two crews dividing the night, and are paid 2s. 1d. per day, finding their own food and lodging. The officers go through a short course at a gunnery school, and men from the guns are now being sent to Chatham Gunnery School to be trained. Arrangements are also being made for men to be sent for training to the British Army in France. Experienced naval ratings are attached to the gun and searchlight stations.


When is it considered probable that those gunners will be able to hit a Zeppelin?


asked whether, in the case of recent Zeppelin raids, warnings of the coming raid were sent to the staffs in Government offices and munition works, as well as to certain persons in their private residences; and whether, in view of the possible saving of life, similar warning will, in the event of future raids, be given to the people of London generally?


The question of how far and in what quarters preliminary warning should be given of Zeppelin attack is one which has been carefully considered by the Home Office in consultation with the Admiralty, and it would not be possible to explain the scheme fully in answer to a question.


If my hon. Friend raises this question on the Adjournment to-night, will the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to make a full statement?


If that is desired, I will do so.

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