HC Deb 15 March 1916 vol 80 cc2061-3

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a number of married men in Bristol and the neighbourhood, Derby recruits, having received notice to present themselves at the recruiting office at which they attested for examination by the military doctor, settled up their affairs, abandoned their situations, and in some cases broke up their homes, only to find that at their military medical examination they are unfit and are either rejected or informed that they may return to civilian life until required; is he aware that these men are neither in the Army nor finally refused for the Army; and can the War Office take some means to prevent the suffering, loss, and uncertainty its present methods are causing?


I was not aware of the circumstances mentioned by my hon. Friend. The action taken by the men in question certainly does credit to them, though I cannot help thinking that they may have been somewhat premature if they gave up their situation when they knew that the question of their medical fitness for service had yet to be determined. In order to prevent any such uncertainty medical boards have been set up at the headquarters of each recruiting area, before which men may appear before they are called up, and from which they may obtain an opinion as to their physical fitness and consequent likelihood of being called up.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these medical boards are refusing to examine men who present themselves?


No, Sir, instructions have been issued that they are to examine.


Could the right hon. Gentleman see his way to pay the travelling expenses of these men who are called up to be examined?


I will look into the matter.

Commander BELLAIRS

Could some sort of warning be given to these men that they may be rejected, because I know of several cases in which men have thrown up their employment, and then subsequently they have been held over for Home service only?


I should have thought the Regulations were sufficient. I do not know really what else I can do.


asked the Under-Secretary for War whether he will inquire into the circumstances attending the death of Private Leonard Wainwright, of the 3rd Cheshires; whether he was passed by the Medical Board at Chester for home service only and on the understanding that he would have to undergo hospital treatment; whether he is aware that on reaching Birkenhead he was put into immediate training, taking part in hard drilling and route marches; that his health immediately broke under the strain so that he died in a fortnight; that the military medical surgeon who saw Private Wainwright on the day he died expressed regret that he had been passed for the Army in his state of health; and, in view of the recruitment of unfit persons, will he say what steps are being taken to prevent the repetition of similar occurrences?


I have already caused inquiry to be made into these circumstances, which had been brought to my notice irrespectively of my hon. Friend's question. I am taking steps to accelerate the arrival of the report.


asked the Under-Secretary for War whether he is aware that out of 1,200 men from the borough of Mossley who presented then selves for attestation during the week ended 11th December, 1915, 200 were rejected as unfit, and that the oath was not administered to them; that neither the recruiting officer nor the examining doctors were supplied with rejection certificates; that these rejected men are now being called up for military service, although the forms of attested and rejected were sent to the military authorities at Ashton-under-Lyne, and are unable to produce rejection certificates that were never supplied to them; that Lieutenant-Colonel Cheetham, at the Ashton-under-Lyne Barracks, on being written to on the subject, has replied that the rejected men must bring the certificates with them which they have not been able to obtain; that the local recruiting officer was not supplied with money to pay the 2s. 9d. to which the men sworn in were entitled; that some of the rejected men have had to pay the local doctor who examined them a fee of 2s., which they much resent; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?


I am not aware of the circumstances mentioned by my hon. Friend. I am having inquiries made into the matter.