§ 25. Captain ORMSBY-GORE
asked the Secretary of State for War whether a number, about twenty, of officers wounded or sick from Mesopotamia were invalided home to England on leave on medical certificate for limited periods of three or four months, leaving Bombay on a hospital ship on 7th July, 1916, were landed at Suez on 18th July, and were there informed that there would be no hospital ship to take them on from Egypt until 20th August, if then; whether these officers were kept at Alexandria in hospital until 2nd August, when they were informed that if they liked they could go by ordinary transport thence to Marseilles, and, on embarking on this transport, were compelled to sign a declaration certifying that, if a passage to England by transport was granted to them, they would pay all expenses incurred en route, including, if landed at Marseilles, the fare through France, that they were travelling by transport at their own request and risk, that they would not in future prefer any claim whatsoever for the payment of any expenses incurred during the journey to England, and that they were aware that they were allowed to stay in Egypt and await passage to England by hospital ship, but that if they did so they must stay in hospital or convalescent home and adhere to the rules of that institution; whether the transport on which they travelled on these conditions also carried officers not sick or wounded, on ordinary leave from Egypt, who were given free warrants across France and were forced to pay no expenses; why this differentiation is made against officers invalided from the Mesopotamian front; and whether, seeing that the period of leave dated from leaving Bombay and no proper arangements were made for transportation for these sick and wounded officers beyond Suez, he will see that their leave is extended for the time they were detained in Egypt?
§ Mr. FORSTER
The statements made in the first three parts of the question are, I am informed, substantially correct, 1846 so far as the information in the possession of the War Office goes. As regards the fourth and fifth parts of the question, I cannot at present say precisely why the authorities in Egypt made these officers sign the declaration referred to, but I may inform my hon. and gallant Friend that the question of reimbursing the travelling expenses and also extending leave will be sympathetically considered. I may add that it is impossible to provide for hospital ships in Egypt to meet the Indian hospital ships, and that patients from India have to be transferred to hospitals in Egypt until they can come on. There has been a shortage of hospital ships in the Mediterranean lately owing to the heavy requirements arising from the operations in France, but this has now been remedied.
§ Captain ORMSBY-GORE
Are the arrangements for evacuating sick and wounded officers from Mesopotamia who are invalided home made by the Indian Army or by the War Office here? It seems that there is some confusion between the two.