HC Deb 10 August 1916 vol 85 cc1236-7
91. Mr. R. McNEILL

asked the Secretary of State for War if it has been decided to disband the Dover Anti-Aircraft Corps and to replace it by a corps drawn from London electrical engineers; whether the Dover Anti-Aircraft Corps has been serving for twenty months, during which it has been repeatedly congratulated on its efficiency and never censured; whether he is aware that the intimate local knowledge possessed by the men is of great value in enabling them to distinguish the sound of hostile aircraft from similar local noises, and that an incentive to zealous service is afforded by the fact that as a local corps the men are charged with the protection of their own homes; whether on the only three occasions when Zeppelins have approached Dover the corps detected the enemy and illumined the aircraft so as to give full opportunity for the anti-aircraft gunners, who were thus enabled on one of the three occasions to damage the invader; whether the intended change will involve considerable increased expenditure; and if he will say why, under these circumstances, the change is to be made?


The disappearance of this corps, which was composed partly of naval active-service ratings and partly of local men who were able to give only part-time service, has resulted automatically from the introduction of the Military Service Act, and from the transfer of the anti-aircraft defences from the Navy to the Army. The result is that the naval active-service ratings have been handed back to the Admiralty, by whom they were required; the members of the corps eligible for general service have been enlisted for general service, and those eligible for Home service only have been enlisted in the London Electrical Engineers and will be employed as far as possible at Dover. The good work done by this corps in the past is fully recognised.


Does my hon. Friend realise that there is very great local dissatisfaction?


I am very sorry to hear it, but I am afraid under the circumstances which I have narrated in my answer the proceedings were inevitable.