HC Deb 07 March 1916 vol 80 cc1347-8
17. Mr. KING

asked in what respect the officers and men selected by the War Office to man gun and searchlight stations in and around London are better qualified than the Anti-Aircraft Corps who, in addition to nearly eighteen months' training, have had actual experience of Zeppelin raids; and whether officers of the Anti-Aircraft Corps have recently been instructing the military officers in range-finding and other work connected with anti-aircraft gunnery?


I do not accept my hon. Friend's opinion on the technical point raised in the first part of his question. I have never stated that the first category mentioned are better qualified than the second category mentioned. That is my hon. Friend's opinion. As regards the last part of the question, I can assure him that the officers of the two Services are working in the closest co-operation.

18. Mr. KING

asked whether naval ratings are to be retained at searchlight stations in and around London until the soldiers selected to man these stations be come proficient in the use and care of searchlights; and whether searchlights have been damaged owing to the inexperience of the men in charge during the period which has elapsed since the present military personnel were introduced to replace the Anti-Aircraft Corps?


May I suggest to my hon. Friend that military interest would be better served if points such as this were not made the subject of questions. As a matter of fact nothing is known of any such incident as that mentioned. Every endeavour is being made to make the personnel efficient, both by recruiting from suitable sources and by training after enlistment.

Mr. FERENS (by Private Notice)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he is aware that at midnight on Sunday a Zeppelin visited an important city on the East Coast, dropped over twenty bombs, killed seventeen people and wounded fifty; and will he say what steps he. proposes to take for the protection of the people against such raids?


My right hon. Friend only put his question into my hands as I came into the House, and therefore I have not been able to consult my Department as to any future steps which may be taken in this direction, and I am not at all certain that it would be desirable to convey such steps to the public, even if I had been able to consult my Department. I can only say on behalf of the Government that we sympathise very deeply and warmly with the relatives of those who have been killed and injured. I hope that the figures given by my right hon. Friend to the House are in excess of the fact.




The information which reaches me is not the same as that my right hon. Friend has conveyed, but I would only express on behalf of the Government our sympathy.


Would not the best defence be to lay one or two German towns in ruins?


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is a position to inform the House whether the arrangements for transferring this matter to the War Office have yet been entirely completed?